The EB-5 "Investor Green Card" is a permanent residency U.S. visa designed to allow permanent U.S. residency to foreign investors who are willing to invest significant capital in American companies.
EB-5 visa applications have become much more popular in recent years after the USCIS relaxed the requirements and increased the consistency of granting EB-5 applications.
The conditions require:
- An investment of $1,050,000 million or more (or at least $800,000 in certain rural areas or regions with high unemployment);
- The company will employ at least ten full-time positions for either American citizens or legal permanent residents.
- Evidence that the capital invested is lawfully gained, such as through income, inheritance, gifts, or business transactions.
- The investment must be put at "risk" in the commercial sense, meaning there must be a chance of both business success and failure.
Benefits of an EB-5 Green Card
- Expedited processing for petitioners and family members: The EB-5 Green Card is typically granted more quickly compared to other categories, benefiting not only the petitioner but also their immediate family members, such as spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
- No job offer or labor certification required: Unlike certain other Green Card categories, the EB-5 visa does not necessitate the applicant to secure a job offer or labor certification, providing flexibility and ease for entrepreneurs and investors.
- Net worth disclosure not mandatory: Applicants for the EB-5 Green Card are not obligated to reveal their net worth, offering an additional layer of privacy and financial discretion.
- Minimal involvement in the application process: The applicant does not need to be deeply engaged in the entire process, as the primary focus is on their investment and its economic impact, rather than their specific skills or qualifications.
- Freedom to live and work anywhere in the U.S.: The EB-5 Green Card allows the holder to reside and work in any part of the United States, providing flexibility and a wide range of opportunities.
- Pathway to permanent residency and citizenship: The EB-5 Green Card offers a direct route to permanent residency, and eventually, U.S. citizenship, for both the principal applicant and their eligible family members.
- Access to educational opportunities: Green Card holders have access to the same educational opportunities as U.S. citizens, such as public schools, universities, and financial aid.
- Increased global mobility: Holding an EB-5 Green Card enhances the applicant's ability to travel internationally, as it often provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries around the world.
- Eligibility for various social benefits: Green Card holders are eligible for certain social benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, subject to meeting the respective requirements.
- Business flexibility: EB-5 Green Card holders can start or acquire businesses, diversify their investments, and participate in various economic opportunities within the United States.
Follow this step-by-step guide for non-citizens seeking permanent residency in the U.S. via the EB-5 program:
- Conduct comprehensive research: Prior to investing, research and select a reputable Regional Center. These centers are private, public, or hybrid entities that foster economic growth within specific U.S. regions. They can assist investors in finding suitable investment opportunities based on their preferences and requirements. The USCIS website provides a list of approved regional centers.
- Complete your investment: After identifying an appropriate Regional Center, transfer the required minimum investment amount to an escrow account. Upon I-526 petition approval, the funds will be released to the selected Regional Center.
- Submit the I-526 petition: Filing the I-526 petition is the initial step towards permanent residency through the EB-5 program. Submit the petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with all necessary documentation. Ensure your application is complete and accurate to prevent delays.
- Obtain conditional residency: Following I-526 petition approval, you'll receive a two-year conditional residency. During this time, monitor and document the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs resulting from your investment.
- File the I-829 petition: To remove conditional residency, submit an I-829 petition within 90 days before the second anniversary of receiving conditional residency. The petition should include evidence of meeting the job creation requirement.
- Achieve permanent residency: Once the I-829 petition is approved, you'll be granted permanent residency in the United States.
Adjusting Status from F-1 Student Visa
Through EB-5 ProgramIf you hold an F-1 student visa and wish to explore options for remaining in the United States after graduation, consider the EB-5 program. This program enables foreign investors to acquire a green card by investing a minimum of $900,000 in a U.S. commercial enterprise, creating at least ten full-time jobs for American workers. Keep in mind that EB-5s are current for many countries, excluding China and India, except for Rural, High Unemployment, and Infrastructure deals.
Investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) can expedite the EB-5 application process. TEAs are identified as regions with high unemployment rates or situated in rural or underdeveloped locations, qualifying for specific benefits and incentives under the EB-5 program. F-1 visa holders should be aware that they may be eligible to file a concurrent Adjustment of Status case alongside their EB-5 application, enabling them to remain in the U.S. lawfully while their application is processed.
With an EB-5 green card, F-1 visa holders can work legally in any capacity in the U.S., including owning and operating their own business. It is crucial to consult an experienced immigration attorney to determine the most suitable approach for your unique situation. Remember that filing an Adjustment of Status case with the EB-5 application is only an option for those with dual intent visas, such as H-1Bs.
Transitioning from an H-1B, F-1, or B-1/B-2 visa to an EB-5 may be a feasible option for individuals seeking permanent residency in the United States. However, it is essential to consult an experienced immigration attorney to establish the best course of action for your particular situation. Note that filing the Adjustment of Status package along with the I-526 EB-5 package is only an option for H-1Bs with dual intent.
Criteria for Investing in a New Business
- The investor must be investing at least US $1,050,000 million (or at least $800,000 if in a designated targeted employment area).
The targeted employment area is a rural area or area that has experienced a high unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average.
- The investment must be shown to benefit the U.S. economy, usually by providing goods or services to domestic markets.
- The new business must, directly or indirectly, create at least ten full-time positions for U.S. workers.
- May include citizens, green card holders, and others allowed to work in the U.S.
- May not include the EB-5 petitioner or their family members.
- The capital investment does not have to be all cash but may also comprise:
- Cash equivalents or indebtedness are secured by the investor's assets and for which they are liable.
- Equipment, stock, or other tangible property.
- The EB-5 petitioner may be involved directly in a management capacity or as a limited partner.
Criteria for Investing in a Failing Business
- The business must have been running for at least two years.
- Before the petition, it must have returned a net loss for the recent 12/24-month period.
- That loss must constitute at least 20% of the business's net worth on the balance sheet.
- The investment must maintain at least as many jobs as before investment for a minimum of 2 years.
- Invest or be in the process of investing US $1,050,000. Or at least $800k if the investment is in a designated "Targeted Employment Area."
- A rural area or an area with a high unemployment rate (at least 150% of the national average).
- The petitioner may be involved in day-to-day management or as a limited partner.
The duration needed for EB-5 processing can fluctuate. Evaluating the initial request (Form I-526) might range from 47 to 71 months. Subsequently, the candidate must verify if a visa is accessible. Currently, there are no delays for EB-5 candidates.
Should the candidate reside outside the U.S., the approval period for a green card through consular processing might span 4 to 6 months. Conversely, if the candidate is located within the U.S., the decision-making process via the Adjustment of Status procedure could vary from 7.5 to 45.5 months, contingent on the service center.
For an up-to-date examination of form-specific processing durations, the USCIS online instrument is available for use. Additionally, the Visa Bulletin can be consulted to determine when green cards will be issued.
When an applicant secures an EB-5 Green Card, their legal spouse and unmarried children under 21 years may enter the U.S. on a two-year conditional period. Then, you can file a petition to remove conditions from family member green cards (I-829).As lawful permanent residents (green card holders) in their own right, family members will be authorized to work and attend school in the U.S.
In addition to the benefits mentioned, family members of EB-5 Green Card holders can also enjoy a reduced waiting time for visa processing compared to other visa categories. This allows them to join the primary applicant in the U.S. more quickly and start building their lives together.
During the two-year conditional period, the family members hold a temporary status in the United States. To transition from conditional residency to permanent residency, the primary applicant must file a petition (Form I-829) to remove the conditions from their family members' green cards. This step typically occurs 90 days before the second anniversary of obtaining conditional residency.
During the two-year conditional period, family members are allowed to travel in and out of the United States without jeopardizing their status. This offers them the flexibility to maintain connections with their home country while adjusting to their new life in the U.S.
Employment and Education Opportunities:
As lawful permanent residents, family members have the right to work and attend school in the United States. This access to employment and educational opportunities provides them with the same advantages as other U.S. residents, allowing them to build a stable life and pursue their personal and professional goals.
Healthcare and Social Benefits:
Green Card holders, including family members of EB-5 investors, are eligible for certain healthcare and social benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare, as long as they meet the respective requirements.
Apart from Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare, family members of EB-5 investors may also be eligible for other social benefits such as unemployment insurance, disability benefits, and food assistance programs, provided they meet the necessary qualifications.
Pathway to Citizenship:
Family members who obtain permanent residency through the EB-5 Green Card program are also on the path to U.S. citizenship. After meeting the residency requirements and fulfilling other necessary criteria, they can apply for naturalization, ultimately becoming U.S. citizens.
After obtaining U.S. citizenship, family members can sponsor immediate relatives for permanent residency, expanding the opportunities for extended family members to immigrate to the United States.
Living in the United States as lawful permanent residents allows family members the opportunity to assimilate into the American way of life, gain a deeper understanding of the country's customs and values, and contribute to its diverse cultural landscape.
As lawful permanent residents, family members can participate in local community events, engage with neighbors, and join various clubs and organizations, further enhancing their cultural integration and fostering a sense of belonging in their new home country.
The Most Common EB-5 Fees and Their Associated Cost
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur: This is the main form required for an EB-5 visa application. The cost of Form I-526 is $3,675.
- Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status: This form is required for all EB-5 visa applicants after they have been granted conditional permanent resident status. The cost of Form I-829 is $3,750.
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support: This form is required to show that the applicant has sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family while in the United States. The cost of Form I-134 is $185.
- Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency: This form is required for all EB-5 visa applicants who are not exempt from the requirement. The cost of Form I-944 is $0.
- Form I-169, Petition to Classify Prospective Immigrant as EB-5 Investor: This form is required for EB-5 visa investors who are applying for a green card based on their investment in a Regional Center. The cost of Form I-169 is $2,460.
- Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Immigrant Petition: This form is required if the applicant needs to expedite the processing of their Form I-526 or Form I-169. The cost of Form I-824 is $1,140.
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: This form is required if the applicant is already in the United States and wants to adjust their status to permanent residency. The cost of Form I-485 is $1,140.
In addition to the application fees, the applicant may also incur other costs, such as travel expenses to the U.S. embassy or consulate, translation fees, and document preparation fees. The applicant will also be required to submit other supporting documents, such as a copy of their passport, a birth certificate, or a marriage certificate. The specific documents required will vary depending on the applicant's individual circumstances. The total cost of an EB-5 visa application can vary depending on the individual circumstances. However, the applicant should expect to pay at least a few thousand dollars in application fees and other costs.
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