The EB-5 investor visa program, which is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), offers foreign entrepreneurs the opportunity to obtain lawful permanent residence and citizenship in the United States.
The program has simultaneous objectives of immigration to the United States through eligible investment in a commercial enterprise and the creation of jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful residents.
Qualifying for an EB-5 Visa
To qualify, a foreign investor must meet three basic requirements:
1. Invest in a New Business or Commercial Enterprise
Foreign investors must make an investment into a new business or commercial enterprise, or invest through an EB-5 Regional Center. A regional center is a business organization that has been approved by the U.S. government to administer EB-5 investment funds.
EB-5 Regional Centers pool EB-5 funds and lend them to qualifying business enterprises or development projects. Currently, there are more than 800 Regional Centers across the nation and 90-95% of EB-5 applications are filed by foreign investors who invest through Regional Centers.
EB-5 Regional Centers are vital to the performance of the EB-5 program and to date, have raised over $15 billion dollars for the US economy and created hundreds of thousands of jobs for US citizens and lawful residents.
2. Invest a Minimum of $500,000 (if qualifications are met) or $1,000,000
Currently, the minimum investment required is $1,000,000 US, unless the business receiving the investment is situated in a targeted employment area (TEA), such as a rural area or an area of high unemployment, in which case a lower investment of $500,000 US will be required. This minimum investment amount is very likely to increase in the near future. Current proposed legislation is being reviewed and discussed by Congress, with no specific date of resolution or exact amount of increase set yet. It is suggested (without any guarantee being made or implied) that individuals and families considering the EB-5 program make their qualifying investments immediately and file their I-526 petitions so that a filing receipt from USCIS is obtained before any new law comes into force.
In addition, the investor must prove that their funds were obtained from a lawful source. The funds can come from the investor’s own pockets, a loan that is not secured by the EB-5 investment, or a gift from someone (such as a relative or friend), as long as the funds emanate from a lawful source and can be traced.
3. Create At Least 10 Full-time U.S. Jobs
Within two years, i.e. the period for which the investor is granted conditional permanent residency, the invested funds must have helped to create a minimum of 10 qualifying full-time U.S. jobs (per EB-5 investor).
What is the Timeline For the EB-5 Process?
The process for obtaining an EB-5 investor visa is best handled by a qualified EB-5 attorney who can guide you through the various stages of the EB-5 process, which are as follows:
- You prepare an I-526 application with the help a qualified EB-5 attorney, along with documentation to verify that your investment funds come from a lawful source.
- After due diligence has been performed on the prospective EB-5 business or project (preferably with the help of an experienced EB-5 attorney), the funds are invested and your EB-5 attorney submits your I-526 petition to the USCIS for review and adjudication. Approval of the I-526 petition can take anywhere from one to over two years.
- Once your I-526 is approved, you will receive conditional permanent residency for two years. Conditional permanent residency status grants the same rights as unconditional permanent residency.
- Approximately 24 months after receiving the conditional permanent residency, and with the help of your EB-5 attorney, you will file form I-829 to remove the conditions on your permanent residency. This will require you to prove that the investment remains in place and that it has created at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
- Once your I-829 has been approved, you, your spouse and children (under 21) will be granted unconditional permanent residency. The average time from filing the I-526 application for a conditional permanent residency until receiving permanent residency in the United States is approximately 4 years (longer for investors from certain countries such as China).
- Two and a half years after receiving your permanent residency (approximately 5 years after receiving the conditional permanent residency) you may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The Benefits of the EB-5 Investor Visa Program
The EB-5 Visa offers the following benefits to foreign entrepreneurs:
1. Permanent residence in the U.S. for the applicant, their spouse, and children under the age of 21
2. A direct route to full U.S. citizenship
3. The ability to manage an existing business or seek employment in the U.S.
4. The freedom to live and work anywhere in the U.S.
5. No business experience, minimum education or language qualification is required
6. The investor and his/her family may attend U.S. colleges or universities at the same rates as for U.S. citizens (depending on where the investor and his/her family members decide to live)
7. No English language requirement
Contact a Skilled EB-5 Attorney
Obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa will require the assistance of a qualified and experienced EB-5 attorney who can assist you in the preparation of the required documents and help you navigate the process successfully. For more information regarding the requirements for obtaining an EB-5 visa and how you can get started, contact the knowledgeable EB-5 attorneys at David Hirson & Partners, LLP.
The content of this blog and this post is not legal advice. Each case should be considered by the reader’s own professional advisor or licensed attorney. No attorney-client relationship is established by this blog.