10 Steps to Complete the EB-5 Visa Process

The EB-5, also known as The Immigrant Investor Program, was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 in a plan to stimulate the U.S. economy through the creation of jobs and investment of capital by immigrant investors. EB-5 aimed to do this through the creation of new commercial enterprises or investment into existing businesses which are struggling. There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available each year.

There are two ways for an immigrant investor to gain lawful permanent residence in the United States for themselves and their immediate families. However, this is only applicable after having been evaluated for admissibility. These are the “Basic Program” and the “Regional Center Pilot Program”. Both of these programs require that the immigrant investor make an investment of either $500,000 or $1,000,000 in a U.S. commercial enterprise. The exact amount depends on whether the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or not. The investment is at the immigrant investors risk, and has to directly or indirectly create ten jobs.

EB-5 Business Entities

An EB-5 investor can put his or her money into several different kinds of businesses. In general, the investment can be made in a new commercial enterprise or a regional center. New commercial enterprise refers to any kind of legal, for profit entities such as corporations, business trusts, and limited or general partnerships or other privately or publicly owned businesses. Any new commercial enterprises must have been established after 29th November 1990.

Older Commercial enterprises can qualify if the immigrants’ investment has a possibility to result in a 40 percent increase in the number of employees or net worth of the business.

10 Simple Steps to an EB-5 Visa

•             Education and risk assessment: The immigrant investor will have to understand the EB-5 Visa process as well as gain an understanding of the commercial environment in the U.S. area where he or she plans on making an investment. The immigrant investor will then have to do a risk assessment of the investment he or she is planning to make and come to a conclusion about whether the venture is commercially viable and worth the risk to him or her. The investor can seek out advice from an experienced and knowledgeable agent to make this process easier for him or herself.

•             Selecting a feasible project: The immigrant investor will have to select a project which he or she finds both appealing and monetarily practical. The immigrant can choose to invest in an existing or new commercial enterprise. Migration agents are often involved in matching potential EB-5 investors with compatible projects.

•             Finding an immigration attorney: EB-5 investors should seek council with a reliable and reputable immigration attorney. The attorney should preferably have experience and knowledge of regional center investments.

•             Preparing the Visa petition: Once you have hired an immigration attorney, he or she will provide you with a list of documents and information such as birth certificates, tax returns etc. that need to be compiled. This can take up to a period of 2 to 4 months. The most cumbersome part of this task is proving that your $500,000 or $1,000,000 investment had a legal source. This involves accounting for the EB-5 investors last seven years financially.

•             Filing the Petition: The petition will be filed by the EB-5 investors’ attorney at the USCIS. A collection fee will have to be paid at this point which will be the attorney fees, the investment, $50000 administrative fee, the filing fee at the USCIS along with any miscellaneous costs that the investor picks up along the way such as travel, phone calls, hotel stays and such. With a $500,000 investment, the average cost usually comes to $575,000 but expenses can vary.

USCIS usually informs applicants if their petition has been accepted after a period of 12 to 18 months. Most regional centers will refund an investment if an application is denied.

•             Apply for conditional permanent resident status: After an investor’s petition is approved, he or she can apply for a two year conditional permanent resident status. If an investor does not have an immigrant visa, he or she must submit visa form DS-230 to the National Visa Center and be processed through their national countries U.S. Consulate or embassy.

•             Release of funds: Escrow funds will be released to the project pursuant to the escrow agreement upon approval of the petition. If the petition is not approved, then the funds will be refunded back to the EB-5 investor.

•             Interview: Once approved, the investor will receive a notification and can then make an appointment with his or her country’s U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview. If the investor is approved after the interview, they will receive documents to present to U.S. immigration upon arrival to the United States. At that point, the investor becomes a permanent US resident.

•             Confirmation that investment conditions have been fulfilled: Approximately two years after approval, it is time to work with your immigration attorney to prove that the investment made by the EB-5 applicant has resulted in a 40% increase in employment or the businesses net worth. This is done through a filing known as Form I-829. Once form I-829 is approved by USCIS, the EB-5 investors’ conditional green card will be replaced by a permanent green card which will only require renewal once in a period of 10 years. The investor has officially reached Green Card status at this point. 5 years after reaching Green Card status, the investor and his or her immediate family can apply for US citizenship.

•             Completion of the Investment: From this point onwards, the investment will continue separately, and will be repaid as per its own terms. If the investment is at risk as dictated by USCIS requirements, it is difficult or impossible to guarantee the returns or returns of investment.

It is important to remember that for a project to be successful and for the investor and his or her immediate family to be able to receive Green Cards for United States residency, the viability of the chosen investment projects must be considered.

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