This is our dedicated EB-5 investor visa page. Below you will find information about the EB-5 visa USA application process, requirements, processing times, and EB-5 visa program in general. As an experienced EB-5 investor visa lawyer I will listen to your short and long-term goals, advise you on the best immigration strategy for your specific needs and help you throughout your EB-5 visa USA application process.
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The EB-5 visa program is the best solution for investors with significant financial resources who wish to obtain a green card through investment. The EB-5 visa USA program presents two investment options for the investor visa applicant: Regional Center or Direct Investment. You may learn more about these two different EB-5 visa programs in the requirements section below.
The biggest advantage of the EB-5 investor visa program is that it leads to a green card which allows the successful EB-5 investor visa applicant to permanently live and work in the United States. The program allows the spouse and unmarried children under 21 of an EB-5 investor visa holder to apply for a green card and move to the United States with the main EB-5 investor visa applicant.
The EB-5 visa program has requirements which the EB-5 investor visa applicant must meet in order to successfully obtain an investor green card.
The first EB-5 visa requirement is that the applicant must make a specific minimum capital investment to qualify for the EB-5 visa USA program. The capital investment can include cash, cash equivalents, inventory, or tangible property. As of November 21, 2019, the EB-5 minimum investment amounts are $900,000 for a project located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,800,000 for a project located outside a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). These minimum investment amounts apply equally to Regional Center and Direct Investment EB-5 visa USA programs.
You may be wondering, “Wasn’t the minimum investment amount for an EB-5 visa $500,000?” Yes, in fact, it was. However, on November 21, 2019, there was an EB-5 visa program change which changed the EB-5 visa requirements and increased the minimum EB-5 investment amount to $900,000 or $1,800,000 depending on whether the investment project is located in a TEA.
The EB-5 visa requirements also state that the funds invested in the investor visa project must be at risk.
The second EB-5 visa requirement is that the investment must create a minimum amount of US jobs. To qualify for the EB-5 investor visa program, the investor visa applicant is required to create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. The EB-5 visa program requirements state that the jobs under the EB-5 investor visa category must be created either before the applicant files the I-526 petition or the applicant must explain how investment will create the 10 jobs during the EB-5 visa investor’s 2-year conditional permanent residence period. The jobs created under the EB-5 investor visa category must be maintained throughout the EB-5 visa USA investor’s 2-year conditional permanent residence period until she files the I-829 petition to remove conditions.
The jobs created under the EB-5 visa program are categorized as direct, indirect or induced. A direct job means that the created job is an actual position for qualified US workers. A qualified US worker is generally an individual who is a US citizen or a permanent resident. Individuals who do not qualify as a qualified worker include the EB-5 visa USA investor herself, the EB-5 visa USA applicant’s family (including spouse and children), and foreign nationals in a non-immigrant visa status. The jobs under the EB-5 visa program must be created in the business in which the EB-5 investor has made an investment. The EB-5 visa program requirements also state that the positions must be full-time (at least 35 hours per week). Direct jobs can be used to meet the EB-5 visa requirements regardless of whether the investor chooses the Regional Center or the Direct Investment option.
Indirect and induced jobs, on the other hand, may only be counted to meet the job creation EB-5 visa requirement if the investor chooses the Regional Center option. Indirect jobs that may be counted under the EB-5 visa program include jobs created in businesses affiliated or associated with an EB-5 Regional Center, such as businesses supplying goods or services to the EB-5 Regional Center. Induced jobs that may be counted under the program include jobs created in the community where the Regional Center is located. These induced jobs may be counted if the jobs are created in the community due to the extra spending by workers associated with the EB-5 Regional Center.
The third EB-5 visa requirement is that the funds invested by the EB-5 investor must come from a lawful source. This means that the EB-5 investor visa applicant must demonstrate the lawful source of all funds used for the investment. The investor must trace the source of funds from the time they were earned to their investment into the EB-5 visa USA project.
The fourth EB-5 visa requirement is that the investment be made in a qualifying investment, as described in 8 C.F.R. § 204.6. The program requires that your investment be made in a “new” commercial enterprise. New Commercial Enterprise means a for-profit activity, created after November 29, 1990 and for the purpose of conducting an ongoing lawful business, including partnership, joint venture, sole proprietorship, business trust, holding company, corporation, or other entity that is publicly or privately owned.
The EB-5 visa program presents EB-5 visa USA investors with two options: Regional Center or Direct Investment.
The EB-5 investor visa rules permit an EB-5 visa USA investor may choose an EB-5 Regional Center as her EB-5 investor visa investment vehicle. A Regional Center is a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorized organization which sponsors capital investment projects for EB-5 visa USA investors to invest in. Regional Centers are public or privately owned entities that help increase the domestic capital, create job opportunities, and improve local and regional productivity and economic growth.
Regional Centers are appealing as an investment vehicle to EB-5 investor visa applicants because they make it easier to satisfy the job creation EB-5 visa requirement and do not require the investor’s active involvement in the management of the investment project. The EB-5 Regional Center should have a detailed plan on how the project will satisfy all visa requirements. EB-5 Regional Centers can use indirect and induced jobs to meet the job creation requirement. When choosing the EB-5 Regional Center option, the EB-5 visa USA applicant is still required to make the minimum capital investment and to prove the lawful source of invested funds.
> Who should choose the EB-5 Regional Center as their EB-5 visa investment vehicle?
The EB-5 Regional Center option is perfect for EB-5 visa USA investors who are more interested in obtaining permanent residence in the United States than actually starting and running a business in the United States.
The EB-5 investor visa applicant may choose to start her own business as her EB-5 visa USA investment vehicle. When choosing the direct investment option, the investor must form a US business in accordance with the EB-5 visa program regulations. The investor must then make the minimum capital investment into the business. Per the EB-5 visa program requirements, the investor’s business must create at least 10 full-time jobs. Only direct jobs may be counted to satisfy the job creation EB-5 visa requirement when choosing the direct investment option. The EB-5 investor visa applicant may choose any business to invest in. The key is that all requirements be met by the investment. We have seen investors choose restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, franchises, or small manufacturing companies, among others, to qualify for an EB-5 investor visa.
There are two key differences between the Direct Investment and Regional Center options. First, when choosing the Direct Investment option, the investor should expect to have a much more hands-on approach in the EB-5 visa USA project. The EB-5 investor visa applicant should expect to be highly involved in the management of the enterprise. Second, the Direct Investment option requires that the EB-5 visa project create 10 direct jobs. Indirect and induced jobs will not count in meeting the job creation EB-5 visa requirement.
> Who should choose the EB-5 Direct Investment as their EB-5 visa investment vehicle?
The Direct Investment option is perfect for EB-5 visa USA investors who wish to start, operate, and actively manage a business in the United States and use this business to qualify for an EB-5 investor visa.
The EB-5 visa USA application process has four steps which the EB-5 investor visa applicant needs to go through in order to obtain an EB-5 investor visa.
First, the EB-5 investor visa applicant must choose her EB-5 visa USA project. The investor may choose either the Direct Investment or Regional Center option as her investor visa investment vehicle. You can find more information about these options in the section above.
Second, the EB-5 investor must make the necessary capital investment. The EB-5 visa USA investor must invest either $900,000 or $1,800,000 in the chosen project. You can find more information about the EB-5 visa requirements including minimum investment amounts in the above sections.
Once the necessary EB-5 investment is made, the investor visa applicant must file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, with USCIS. In this petition, the EB-5 visa USA applicant must demonstrate how she has satisfied the requirements for initial approval. The I-526 petition processing time with USCIS usually takes around 20 months. Once a decision is made, USCIS will inform the investor if her petition is approved or denied. Most EB-5 Regional Centers will refund the investor’s capital investment if the I-526 petition is denied. However, such refund arrangements are governed by the agreement between the EB-5 investor and the Regional Center as the EB-5 visa program rules do not require refunds to be made since the invested funds must be at risk.
Third, once the I-526 petition is approved, the EB-5 investor visa applicant must apply to become a conditional permanent resident, also known as conditional green card holder. To obtain the conditional green card, the EB-5 visa USA applicant must either file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, with USCIS, if the applicant is in the United States, or Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application, with a US consulate or embassy, if the applicant is outside the United States. Once the application is approved, the EB-5 investor will receive a conditional 2-year green card.
> EB-5 visa application process: Submitting Form I-485
If the EB-5 investor visa applicant already has an I-526 petition approved and is lawfully living in the United States, then the EB-5 visa USA applicant may file Form I-485 to adjust status to conditional permanent resident in the United States.
The processing time for a Form I-485 adjustment of status application takes between 6 to 12 months, largely depending on where in the United States the EB-5 visa USA applicant resides. Once the I-485 adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant officially becomes a conditional green card holder. This conditional permanent residence status is valid for 2 years.
> EB-5 visa application process: Submitting Form DS-260
If the EB-5 investor visa applicant has an I-526 petition but lives outside the United States, then the EB-5 visa USA applicant may file Form DS-260 to obtain an immigrant visa to enter the United States as conditional permanent resident. Form DS-260 is processed at a US Consulate or Embassy in the EB-5 investor visa applicant’s country of origin. The EB-5 visa program application process lays out two steps for obtaining a Form DS-260 approval. The first step is for the EB-5 investor visa applicant to submit Form DS-260 along with all the necessary documents. The second step is attending the interview at the US Consulate or Embassy which the EB-5 investor visa applicant designated in her application.
Once Form DS-260 is approved, the EB-5 investor visa applicant obtains an immigrant visa, which the applicant can use to enter the United States as a conditional permanent resident. The EB-5 visa USA applicant’s spouse and children under 21 can also obtain conditional permanent resident status in the United States.
The last step of the EB-5 visa application process is for the applicant to remove conditions on her permanent resident status. This is done by filling Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, with USCIS. Once the I-829 petition is approved, the EB-5 investor visa applicant has met all the EB-5 visa program requirements.
The EB-5 visa USA applicant should generally present the following documents during the I-829 process:
The EB-5 visa program requires that the I-829 petition be submitted 90 days prior to the 2nd year anniversary of the date that the EB-5 investor visa applicant first received her conditional resident status. If the EB-5 visa USA applicant fails to submit the I-829 petition in the required timeframe, USCIS will terminate the EB-5 investor visa applicant’s conditional resident status.
USCIS usually takes up to 21 months to process the I-829 petition and to issue a permanent green card.
When USCIS approves the I-829 petition, the EB-5 immigrant visa holder and her spouse and unmarried children under 21 obtain permanent green cards issued for a 10-year period with the option to renew them indefinitely. This means that the EB-5 investor visa holder and her spouse and unmarried children under 21 can permanently live and work in the US.
The processing times for each step of the EB-5 application process vary. Please see below summary of general processing times for each EB-5 investor visa USA step. We suggest you visit USCIS’s processing times website for the most uptodate processing time information.
The most common question EB-5 investor visa applicants ask about the EB-5 visa program is, “Is EB-5 visa program safe” and in particular “Are EB-5 visa USA Regional Centers safe?” As with any investment, the EB-5 visa program has some risks. This is why we advise every investor to conduct proper due diligence and work with qualified professionals through each phase of the process. Below are some points to consider before starting your EB-5 visa USA application process:
Finding the right Regional Center project for your needs can be time consuming. This is why we recommend you work with qualified professionals throughout every step of the process. As your EB-5 visa lawyer, I will advise you throughout the entire EB-5 visa application process and refer you to qualified professionals as needed.
One of the major advantages of the EB-5 visa program is the chance to start your own business in the United States. The EB-5 visa program Direct Investment option may be the best solution for you if you wish to start a business in the United States as it provides you with complete control over your investment and allows you to manage your US business.
If you are a foreign professional who believes becoming a US permanent resident will help you advance your career, then the EB-5 visa program Regional Center option may be the best solution for you. The Regional Center option does not require active day-to-day management of your EB-5 investment. This will allow you to continue to work in your field while your EB-5 investor visa application is pending. Once your EB-5 visa USA application is approved, you will no longer require visa sponsorship and may work for any US employer.
If you have school-aged children who wish to attend high school, college, or university in the United States, the EB-5 visa program could be a great solution for you. The EB-5 visa program rules allow children under 21 to apply for a green card together with the main applicant parent. Becoming an EB-5 green card holder has additional benefits for school-aged children, such as access to resident tuition fees and employment opportunities with US employers anywhere in the United States.
One of the greatest benefits of the EB-5 visa program is that it provides a road to obtaining a green card and ultimately to becoming a US citizen. Many EB-5 immigrant visa investors apply to the EB-5 visa program because they wish to become US citizens. The EB-5 visa program may be the perfect solution for you, if your goal is to become a US citizen.