Acting as the EB5 program application, Form I-526 is the first petition investors will file in the EB-5 investment process. After submitting a petition to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an investor must wait for approval to apply for a conditional green card. Once an investor obtains their conditional green card, they can live and work in the United States. However, I-526 petition processing is historically lengthy, taking months or even years for adjudication. Although an EB5 investor with a pending I-526 petition is not prohibited from applying for a B-1 or B-2 visa, the burden to prove nonimmigrant intent is greater.
Filing the I-526 petition sets the applicant on a path that leads to U.S. permanent resident status. In other words, a pending I-526 petition signifies an intent to immigrate to the United States. This presents an issue when an EB5 investor wants to apply for a visitor visa, because the B-1 and B-2 carry single intent — the applicant must demonstrate an intent to leave the United States upon visa expiration. Fortunately, it is still possible for an EB5 investor to successfully obtain a visitor visa by demonstrating strong ties to their home country.
When applying for a visitor visa, the applicant must disclose their pending I-526 petition on the application form. This ensures that if the application is denied, such denial will not affect the investor’s EB5 case. Application approval relies on whether or not the investor can demonstrate strong ties to their home country during their visa interview. Ties are what bind a foreign national to their home country, such as a job, home, or family. The types of acceptable proof will vary between applicants depending on their backgrounds. Some examples of evidence that demonstrates strong ties includes: statement from employer specifying the applicant’s job duties, length of employment, and salary; statements showing revenue (if the applicant runs a business); property deeds; student ID, and so on.