What Is the EB5 Visa?
The United States is a popular destination for aspiring immigrants looking to build a better life through entrepreneurship. As a testament to this, the nation offers a means of entrance for foreign nationals who make a direct investment in a business in the United States.
This option, known as the EB-5 immigrant investor program, allows the foreign investor, along with their immediate family members (spouses and unmarried children under 21), to obtain a conditional permanent residence green card. This allows immigrant investors and their loved ones who hold a green card to live, work, travel, and study in the United States.
Although this is an employment-based visa, the EB-5 visa does not require employer sponsorship for immigrant investors. This is because the immigrant investor program is designed to promote economic growth and job creation, thereby directly and substantially benefiting the interests of the U.S. It especially encourages foreign investment into a targeted employment area (TEA), which is defined as a rural area or an area experiencing high unemployment.
Interested applicants will need to meet numerous other requirements. If you are interested in pursuing this visa, an experienced legal professional at Immigration Legal Preparation can help you determine if you qualify and assist you with filing the required documents.
EB5 Visa Requirements
The EB-5 investor visa requirements are determined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The following is a summary of the basic requirements to qualify for the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
- The EB-5 investor must make a required minimum investment amount of USD 500,000 for a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and investment capital of USD 1 million for a standard (non-TEA) investment.
- The EB-5 investor must be able to prove that the capital was obtained from a lawful source.
- The EB-5 investment must result in the creation or preservation of at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investor receiving his or her conditional residency green card.
- The EB-5 investment must be in a new commercial enterprise (NCE).
- The EB-5 investor must be actively involved in the operation of the business. This means that passive investments do not qualify someone for the EB-5 immigrant investor visa.
This is a simplified version of the qualification criteria, so it’s important to understand the details of each requirement when determining if you qualify.
For instance, a “new commercial enterprise” may encompass several different business structures. This can include creating an original business, purchasing an existing business established later than November 29, 1990, or purchasing an existing troubled business and restructuring it to form a new business entity.
If, on the other hand, the investor chooses to restructure an existing business, he or she will be required to show that it has existed for a minimum of two years. The investor must also show that the business has sustained an annual loss of 20% of its net worth at some point during that two-year period.
Foreign investors who fall under this category do not have to show that the capital investment created ten jobs, but rather that the employment level has remained steady or grown over the two-year period since the investment.
EB5 Visa Cost
Aside from the $1,000,000/$500,000 minimum investment amount, the EB-5 visa has additional costs, primarily in the form of application fees.
To apply for the EB-5 visa, foreign investors must file Form I-526, also called the Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The filing fee for this form is $3,675 and is paid once for the immigrant investor and their co-applicant family members.
Other forms will likely be necessary. Once the EB-5 applicant’s I-526 petition has been approved, he or she must either apply for an adjustment of status or an immigrant visa, depending on whether he or she is currently located in the U.S.
An adjustment of status requires filing Form I-485 for $1,225 per person. To apply for an immigrant visa, applicants must file Form DS-260 for $345 per person and attend an interview.
If either of these applications is approved, the EB-5 visa applicant is given conditional permanent resident status for two years. At least 90 days prior to the expiration of this conditional status, the immigrant investor may apply for removal of conditions, which will grant him or her lawful permanent residency. Those hoping to become lawful permanent residents through this route will need to pay $3,750 to file Form I-829 in addition to an $85 biometrics fee for each person.
Most EB-5 visa applicants seek legal assistance with their petition, so this cost should be factored in as well. The cost of legal services will vary greatly, primarily depending on the level of assistance you require. For instance, working with a traditional law firm is often quite expensive, while getting straightforward EB-5 visa document preparation assistance from a company like Immigration Legal Preparation will be much more affordable.
Other costs involved in obtaining an EB-5 visa include the administration fee for a regional center (if participating in the currently-expired regional center program), a business plan, the formation of a business entity, translation of documents and more.
EB5 Visa Processing Time
Processing times for the EB-5 visa vary on a monthly basis. However, most applicants receive a decision within 24 months of beginning the process.
Here is an approximate breakdown of the timeline:
- Selecting the investment – 1 to 3 months
- Preparing the application – 1 month
- USCIS review of Form I-526 – 6 to 9 months
- Filing of Form I-485 or DS-260 – 4 to 9 months
Two years after entering the U.S. for their investment, the investor may receive their permanent resident card. Five years after this, the immigrant investor and eligible family may apply for United States citizenship.
Begin the EB5 Visa Process Today
As you can gather, the EB-5 visa process is complex with many requirements to fulfill.. However, those willing to invest their time and energy into the process will be greatly rewarded in their personal and professional lives.
If you are ready to begin the process of bringing your career to the United States, Immigration Legal Preparation is here to assist you. Our network of immigration law professionals have extensive experience helping immigrant investors, just like you, embark on their permanent residency journey. Reach out to us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you bring your American dream to life.
Get started by contacting our dedicated team today