The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program allocates a maximum of approximately 10,000 visas per year for foreign investors who are seeking permanent residency (Green Cards) in the United States. It requires investors to make an investment of at least $800,000 into a project and create a minimum of ten full-time jobs for the US economy. After maintaining a Green Card for five years, the investor and dependent family members are eligible to apply for US Citizenship, if desired.
The EB-5 Program was first established in 1990 to attract foreign investment to the United States and stimulate economic growth. In 1992, Congress enacted the Regional Center Program to help draw more capital to the US and create a larger economic impact. Regional Centers are business entities approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which pool foreign capital from EB-5 investors to finance job creating projects in the United States. Since the Regional Center Program’s inception, the EB-5 visa has attracted billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to the United States. EB5 Capital is one of the most active and established Regional Centers in the EB-5 industry.
Investors who are interested in pursuing an EB-5 visa can start the immigration process by connecting with one of our professional team members.
The EB-5 Process: Step-by-Step Guide
By working with an experienced Regional Center, investors can receive the full support they need to successfully navigate the EB-5 immigration and investment process. There are several key requirements in the EB-5 process, which can be simplified in four basic steps.
Select a Regional Center and Project
As an investor, there are two goals with the EB-5 Program: obtaining permanent residency (Green Cards) and receiving a full return of the principal investment. Conducting due diligence on the Regional Center and project is one of the most important components in the EB-5 process. Investors should review and understand all the offering documents prior to investing in a project. A few examples of typical EB-5 projects include commercial real estate developments, such as hotels, multifamily developments, and mixed-use projects.
Investment Amounts and TEAs
All EB-5 visa applicants are required to either invest $1,050,000 or $800,000 into an EB-5 project. If the project is located within a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the required investment threshold is decreased to $800,000. TEA designations apply to areas of high unemployment or rural locations. To qualify for the high unemployment TEA, the project must be in a census tract – or any “contiguous” census tracts that “touch” the project’s tract – where the average unemployment rate for the tracts is 150% of the national average. Rural TEAs are any areas outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area that has a population of fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. The Department of Homeland Security is the sole authority to designate TEAs.
Job Creation Requirements
A key requirement to obtain the EB-5 visa is creating a minimum of ten jobs with the investment. The funds must be dedicated to a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) that leads to job creation. One job must be a direct job while the other nine can be indirect jobs. Investments made through the Regional Center Program allow for indirect jobs to count towards the overall total job creation. This is one of the reasons why most EB-5 applications are made through the Regional Center Program. Each investor prior to investing in a project is provided an economic impact report written by a third-party economist who runs an analysis to determine how many jobs would be created through the construction and operation of the project.
Source and Path of Funds
Investors must demonstrate that their invested capital and fees were acquired lawfully. This is known as the “Source and Path of Funds” process. The EB-5 funds can come from a range of sources such as accumulated income, sale of assets, or loans. This part of the EB-5 process is handled directly between the investor and immigration attorney. It is important to hire an immigration attorney with EB-5 experience and who is independent from the Regional Center.
File the EB-5 Petition (Form I-526E)
After selecting a project, the next step in the EB-5 process is to file the EB-5 petition. Also known as Form I-526E, this petition is proof that the investor is in the process of investing into a qualifying project under the EB-5 Program. The EB-5 application may include the primary applicant, the applicant’s spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 years.
Concurrent Filings and Adjustment of Status (Form I-526E and Form I-485)
The EB-5 Program allows investors living in the United States on non-immigrant visas to apply for an adjustment of status when filing their I-526E petitions. This is known as “concurrent filing” and it enables EB-5 applicants to stay in the US and obtain employment authorization and travel permission while their I-526E petitions are pending with the USCIS. Concurrent filings also avoid consular visa processing and may lock-in the age of the children of the principal EB-5 applicant (once a child turns 21 years old, he or she is no longer eligible for immigration benefits based on the relationship to the parent). EB-5 investors born in countries subject to visa retrogression are not eligible for concurrent filings. There must be a visa immediately available for the investor as in their Country of Birth needs to be listed as current in the Visa Bulletin that gets published by the USCIS monthly.
Priority Dates, Processing Times, and Visa Availability
The priority date is the date on which an EB-5 investor files their petition with the USCIS. I-526E processing times vary significantly and range from approximately two to four years on average. I-526E petitions are processed based on visa availability with petitions submitted by investors from countries for which visas are available being prioritized. The Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State each month lists the cut-off dates that determine the availability of visas. Applicants with priority dates before the published cut-off date may apply for permanent residence.
Acquire Conditional Residency (Green Card)
Following USCIS’ approval of the I-526E petition, investors can then file a Form DS-260 to the National Visa Center (NVC) and be processed through their home country’s US consulate or embassy to schedule an interview. The main purpose of the EB-5 interview is to verify supporting documentation in the underlying petition and to make sure the investor is not subject to any grounds of inadmissibility. Upon completion of the interview, the investor will receive the EB-5 visa stamped in his/her passport. After the EB-5 visa interview, investors have up to six months to move to the United States. Shortly after entering the US, the investor and dependent family members on the EB-5 application will then receive the conditional green cards. As highlighted above, investors who are already lawfully residing in the US may skip this step in the process and file for an adjustment of status.
Maintaining Conditional Green Card Status
The conditional green card is effective for a two-year period, during which time the investor must physically reside in the United States. Investors may travel abroad during this period, but certain limitations apply. To understand these restrictions, investors should consult their immigration attorney.
Eligible for Return of Capital
Per current USCIS policy, every EB-5 investor is required to maintain their funds “at-risk” through the completion of their two-year conditional residence period (or sustainment period). An investor is eligible to receive a return of their capital upon the completion of their sustainment period. Return of capital is subject to the project’s ability to repay the investment amount.
Remove Conditions and Apply for Permanent Residency (Form I-829)
The final step in the EB-5 process is to remove the conditions on the Green Card by filing a Form I-829. An I-829 petition must be filed within the last 90 days of the conditional residence period and must demonstrate that the investor has fulfilled the requirements of the EB-5 Program. Once approved, the investor and family will receive permanent Green Cards, which can be renewed every 10 years before the expiration date.
Requirements to file an I-829
- A conditional permanent residency card
- Evidence of a commercial enterprise via their federal tax returns
- Proof that the NCE received their EB-5 investment
- Proof the commercial enterprise was maintained for the entire two-year conditional residency period
- Proof that at least 10 full-time jobs were created
- Biometric documentation
- Criminal background check
Apply for US Citizenship (optional)
After five years of being a Green Card holder, the investor and family are eligible to apply for US citizenship.
Partner with EB5 Capital
EB5 Capital is one of the most highly regarded Regional Center operators in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the company’s distinguished track record and leadership in the industry has attracted investors from over 70 countries. The EB5 Capital team aims to make the EB-5 process as simple and straightforward as possible. Reach out to us to start the EB-5 process and receive support every step of the way.
You may have heard terms like EB-5 visa process, EB-5 green card process, EB-5 application process, EB-5 visa process step by step, EB-5 investor process, EB-5 regional center application process, EB-5 immigration process, or EB-5 investment process when speaking to this topic; they are all referring to the EB-5 process.