The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa for business people. It is the best way for entrepreneurs and investors to get a US green card for themselves, their spouses, and children who are 21 or less. Although the visa technically falls under the employment-based category, it’s actually tied to investment as opposed to an employer (meaning, one can be unemployed but invest and still qualify for an EB-5 visa). To qualify, one has to invest at least $1 million in a US company. Alternatively, they can invest $500,000 if the company is in a targeted employment or rural area. The TEA minimum investment limit will increase to $900,000 on November 21, 2019. Again, the money has to be an individual’s – but it doesn’t matter whether they earned it or received it as a gift.
EB-5 processing requirements
If you are considering applying for an EB-5 visa, here are the basic processing requirements that you must meet.
- You must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a for-profit business that conducts legal activities
- You must spend at least $500,000 for TEAs or $1 million in the enterprise for non-TEAs. This will increase to $900,000 for TEAs and $1.5 Million for non-TEAs on November 21, 2019.
- You must have obtained the investment money legally
- You must undergo both medical and criminal background check
- Your investment must create a minimum of 10 jobs
- Your investment should be “at-risk,” meaning that the money has to be committed to the business as opposed to sitting in the business’s bank account
- You need to hire a US immigration lawyer to take care of the process for you
EB-5 visa process
The process of obtaining the EB-5 visa green card involves a range of steps. To understand the EB-5 processing time, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the following stages.
You enter into a contract with new commercial enterprise and invest the funds directly into the business to fulfill the “at-risk” requirement, as well as other conditions as stipulated by the law
A US immigration lawyer helps you with the relevant investment documentation, and you prepare and submit the I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for review. The process may take anywhere between 12 to 20 months.
Once I-526 is approved, you will have two options going forward – you can either do a status adjustment or apply for an EB-5 visa at an embassy or consulate abroad. An adjustment of status is where you change from a non-immigrant to immigrant status in the US. In which case, you have to be legally present in the US and file a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status) which takes about 6-8 months. Consular processing, on the other hand, is where you apply for the visa from a foreign embassy or consulate. If you aren’t already legally present in the US, you’ll likely be doing the consular process, so you will have to file Form DS-260 online.
Once your form is approved, you’ll receive a two-year “conditional” green card to enter the US to live and work as a permanent resident. This visa allows you, your spouse and unmarried minor children under the age of 21 to move into the country.
The last stage is to file the Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on your resident status). As an investor, you must become a conditional permanent resident for two years, during which you are expected to keep your money invested in the “said” enterprise. About 90 days before your conditional residency expires, you will need to file your Form I-829. Following approval, you will be an unconditional permanent resident, officially. This process may take about two years. Note that you can apply for US citizenship five years from the date of conditional green card approval.
As mentioned earlier, the EB-5 visa is a powerful option for entrepreneurs and investors. And although it involves a complicated application process, the effort is usually well worth it at the end. When done right, EB-5 processing can be smooth. That’s why it is always recommended to work with an experienced attorney who will help you avoid common pitfalls that drag the process. An immigration attorney will help you file the petition, provide legal guidance, and also help you prevent and deal with any possible pitfalls that may arise along the way.
Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.