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Updated June 2023
The United States is widely regarded as having some of the best cities in the world to live and work in. To further encourage foreign investment and create jobs in the US, the country offers a foreign investment program that enables foreign investors to seek permanent residency there.
We have gathered all the relevant information necessary to acquire an EB-5 visa below.
Table of Contents
What is EB-5 visa?
The EB-5 visa is a US immigration program that offers foreign nationals an opportunity to obtain a green card, or lawful permanent residence, by investing in a new commercial enterprise in the country. Established by Congress in 1990, the program aims to promote economic growth and job creation in the US by attracting foreign capital investment. Under the program, foreign investors can obtain permanent residency for themselves, their spouse, and their unmarried children under 21 years old by meeting certain investment and job creation requirements.
The EB-5 visa program provides several benefits to eligible investors. These include:
- the opportunity to obtain permanent residency in the United States
- the right to travel freely between countries
- access to some of the best educational and healthcare systems in the world
- a long-term pathway toward U.S. citizenship, if desired
Other than that, the EB-5 visa allows holders to bring family members to the United States. If approved, holders may bring their spouse and children under the age of 21 and join them in the US. The applicant’s spouse is eligible for both conditional and permanent residency, provided they were married before entering the US as a resident or before changing their status from a conditional resident to a permanent resident after two years. Children under the age of 21 are also eligible for conditional or permanent residency.
Additionally, the EB-5 visa is advantageous for international students seeking to study in the US. It offers lower tuition rates through in-state eligibility, access to US resident scholarships and financial aid, unrestricted job opportunities during education, and eliminates the need for sponsorship. Planning ahead is crucial, and for those already on F-1 or H1-B visas, the concurrent filing option allows immediate living and working in the US while waiting for the green card. Overall, the EB-5 visa provides cost savings, financial support, job flexibility, and peace of mind for post-graduation prospects.
Investment amount and eligibility
As per the USCIS, to be eligible for an EB-5 visa, applicants must invest a minimum of USD 1,050,000 in a US business. However, if the investment is located in a targeted employment area (TEA), which is an economically distressed area, applicants may qualify for a reduced investment amount of USD 800,000.
Applicants must fulfill the requirements below to be eligible for the EB-5 visa program.
- The applicant must invest a minimum of USD 1,050,000 in a commercial enterprise located in the United States. The investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
- The applicant must provide evidence of the lawful source of their investment funds, which must come from a legitimate business, salary, gift, inheritance, sale of property, or other lawful means.
- The applicant must provide a comprehensive business plan outlining the investment project’s nature, scope, and potential job creation.
- The applicant must be actively involved in managing the investment project or play a policy-making role.
- The applicant must undergo a background check and provide evidence of no criminal record.
- The applicant and their family members must undergo a medical exam to ensure they are not medically inadmissible to the United States.
- The applicant must demonstrate sufficient English proficiency to communicate in an English-speaking environment.
Meeting these requirements does not guarantee approval for the EB-5 visa. The applicant must also undergo a rigorous review process by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to determine their eligibility.
Upon obtaining a Green Card through EB-5 investment, you will be granted conditional residency, valid for two years and allowing you to live, work, and study in the United States. It’s important to note that you may lose your resident status if you leave the country for over a year. After two years of conditional residency, you can apply for unconditional or permanent residency, which provides a 10-year Green Card that can be renewed indefinitely.
The processing time for an EB-5 visa can be lengthy, and applicants should plan accordingly. The entire process may take anywhere from 2.5 years to over 5 years, depending on a variety of factors, such as the complexity of the application, the backlog of pending applications at the USCIS, and the overall demand for EB-5 visas.
Applying for an EB-5 visa involves paying specific fees. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charges a fee of USD 3,675 to file Form I-526, which is the first step in the EB-5 visa application process. In addition to this, applicants may also need to cover other expenses such as legal fees, administrative costs, and other associated charges.
It’s important to note that the cost of the EB-5 visa can vary depending on the investment project and the applicant’s individual circumstances. It’s always advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or financial advisor to fully understand the costs and requirements associated with the EB-5 visa program.
Applying for EB-5 visa
The process of obtaining an EB-5 visa involves multiple steps that must be completed in order to obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. Here is a general overview of the EB-5 visa application process:
Step 1 – Investment: The initial step in the EB-5 visa application process is to make an investment in a new commercial enterprise in the US. The investment must meet the minimum amount of USD 1.8 million or USD 800,000 in a targeted employment area.
Step 2 – File Form I-526: After investing, you must submit Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form verifies that you have invested the required amount and that your investment will generate at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
Step 3 – Wait for Form I-526 Approval: Once Form I-526 is submitted, it must be reviewed and approved by USCIS. The processing time can vary.
Step 4 – Apply for Immigrant Visa or Adjustment of Status: Upon approval of Form I-526, an applicant must submit additional forms and documentation to USCIS or the Department of State. The applicant must apply for an immigrant visa outside of the US. If already in the US with valid non-immigrant status, the applicant must apply for an adjustment of status.
Step 5 – Conditional Permanent Residence: If the immigrant visa or adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant will be granted conditional permanent residence, also known as a green card, for a two-year period.
Step 6 – File Form I-829: Within 90 days before the two-year anniversary of obtaining conditional permanent residence, the applicant must file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) with USCIS. This form is used to demonstrate that the requirements of the EB-5 program have been fulfilled and to request the removal of conditions on the permanent residence.
Step 7 – Receive Permanent Residence: If Form I-829 is approved, the conditions on the permanent residence will be removed, and the applicant will become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
Please note that this is a general overview of the EB-5 visa application process and that individual circumstances may vary.