When a prospective EB5 investor applies for an EB5 green card, they must first be admissible to the U.S. In general, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will only approve an EB5 applicant if none of the grounds of inadmissibility apply. Prospective EB5 applicants who are concerned about past criminal convictions should consult an experienced immigration attorney before pursuing an EB5 visa.
The Immigration and Nationality Act contains several inadmissibility grounds for those who commit certain criminal offenses. In general, an individual is inadmissible if they have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) or a violation of laws related to a controlled substance. Additionally, multiple lesser charges can also be grounds for inadmissibility if the combined sentences of confinement were at least five years.
Any noncitizen who committed a serious offense while in the United States, asserted immunity from prosecution, and departed the United States without ever submitting to the court is inadmissible. Convictions of controlled substance abuse or trafficking, prostitution, human trafficking, and money laundering are also grounds for inadmissibility. Government officials who have committed particularly serious violations of religious freedom are inadmissible for life.
How long each ground attaches to an individual varies depending on the type of offense. Some attach for life while others only attach for a certain amount of time. However, EB5 applicants can obtain waivers for certain offenses. The Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes waivers for the following inadmissibility grounds: single possession for personal use of 30 grams or less of marijuana; multiple criminal convictions; prostitution-related offenses; departure on diplomatic immunity after having engaged in criminal activity. In case of any other inadmissibility for criminal activity, the individual must establish that the activities occurred at least 15 years prior to their application for admission. Moreover, immigration officials must consider the individual to be rehabilitated and their admission to not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the United States. Convictions or admissions of murder or torture, or conspiracy to commit either act, permanently bans a noncitizen from U.S. admission or applying for an EB5 visa.