Many countries use various programs and strategies to stimulate their economy by attracting foreign investment and creating jobs. The U.S. uses a program known as the employee-based 5th preference (EB-5) Program.
- 1 What is the EB-5 Program?
- 2 Qualifications for an EB-5 Visa
- 3 The EB-5 green card process
- 4 Why You Need An Immigration Lawyer
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
What is the EB-5 Program?
The EB-5 Program is a program that allows qualified investors or employers and their spouses and unmarried children under 21 to obtain permanent residence (Green Card) upon entry into the United States. It was launched in 1990 and is administered by the USCIS.
EB-5 visas are limited in number. The U.S. can only issue a maximum of 10,000 per year. If you apply in a year that the USCIS has received more than 10,000 applications or a year that a large number of people from your country have applied, you are placed on a waiting list.
Most of the time, applicants don’t have to worry about being put on a waiting list as the 10,000-application limit has been reached very few times. An immigratjon lawyer with EB-5 experience is critical to making sure your move to the U.S. is as seamless as possible.
Qualifications for an EB-5 Visa
Foreign investors and employers wanting to move to the U.S. can only apply for the EB-5 visa if they meet the:
- Minimum capital requirements
- Investment requirements
Minimum capital requirements
To apply for an EB-5 visa, you must have at least the standard minimum investment amount. The amount depends on where you’re investing.
If your investment is made in a targeted economic area (TEA), the amount is $900,000; if not, the amount is $1.8 million. The amount increased from $500,000 and $1 million, respectively, to account for inflation.
The USCIS defines targeted employment areas as areas with an average unemployment rate of 150% of the national average.
Suppose they have the required amount of capital. In that case, the investor or employer must invest directly into a new commercial enterprise or a regional center and create or preserve at least ten full-time positions for qualifying workers.
Full-time positions require a minimum of 35 working hours per week.
Investing directly into a commercial enterprise
Direct investment means starting your commercial enterprise or buying an existing commercial enterprise. If you buy one, it must have been established after Nov. 29, 1990, or before Nov. 29, 1990, but you will:
- Purchase and reorganize or restructure it in a way that results in a new commercial enterprise.
- Expand it through the investment, leading to at least a 40% increase in the number of employees or net worth.
Qualifying commercial enterprises include:
- Sole proprietorship
- Holding companies with for-profit subsidiaries
- Joint venture
- Limited liability company
- Business trust
You must actively participate in the new commercial enterprise if you invest directly. You don’t need to control it; you can focus on policy oversight and hire people to run the business for you.
Investing in a regional center
A regional center is a public or private economic entity that promotes capital investment, job creation, and economic growth. They were created in 2005 and have grown to become the predominant vehicle for EB-5 investments. They pool EB-5 capital from different foreign investors for investment in USCIS-approved economic development projects.
Investing through a regional center means less involvement in daily business operations.
The EB-5 green card process
The immigrant employer or investor must complete three steps in the EB-5 petitioning process.
Step 1: File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investorafter investing or when in the process of investing in a for-profit commercial enterprise. Some of the details and evidence that should accompany the form include:
- Evidence of the investment
- Evidence you are or will be managing the commercial enterprise
- Evidence that it will create at least ten full-time positions
- Evidence that you will maintain the number of employees at no less than the pre-investment level for at least two years.
Step 2: After Form I-526 is approved, file DS-260 to apply for an immigrant visa and alien registration if you’re abroad. If you’re lawfully in the U.S., file Form I-485 to adjust your status to a conditional permanent resident. USCIS grants conditional permanent residence to the EB-5 investor and qualifying family members upon admission.
Step 3: File Form I-829 within 90 days of the second anniversary of your admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent residence. It is a petition to remove the conditions on permanent resident status. Some supporting documents and evidence to submit with Form I-829 include:
- Evidence of your investment
- Evidence that you have sustained the investment throughout the two years of your conditional permanent residence.
- Evidence that you created and maintained ten full-time jobs for qualifying employees
Why You Need An Immigration Lawyer
Foreign investors wanting to move to the U.S. through the EB-5 program must meet specific capital and investment requirements. If approved, they must wait for two years from the date they were granted conditional permanent residence for the conditions to be removed.
But it’s not all that simple. While the EB-5 application is only a few pages long, it is only the tip of the application process; you need experienced legal counsel to file the application. Immigration is a complex matter with many crucial elements; it isn’t advisable to undertake it without an EB-5 immigration attorney.
An attorney can help you gather all the supporting documents, avoid any errors, and expedite the process through connections and employing tried and true strategies. An attorney can also increase your chances of success. If you’d like, they can also help you find the right investment opportunities.
If you have any questions regarding EB-5 immigration investor visa program, call us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the EB-5 a safe investment?
There is no guarantee for the safety of your capital in an EB-5 project.
Is the EB-5 minimum investment amount going to increase?
Yes. From January 1, 2027, and in five-year increments thereafter, the minimum investment amount for EB5 projects will be increased based on the Consumer Price Index.
How long does the EB-5 process take?
About 6 months from the initial application.
Can I withdraw from EB-5?
You may notify USCIS of their intent to withdraw their EB-5 petition, but you won’t be able to withdraw your EB-5 capital before the end of five years.
Can I invest in residential property to qualify for EB-5 visa?
No, you can’t. It has to be a commercial property that meets the requisites.