EB-5 VISA PROCESS
The EB-5 immigrant visa process can be complex, confusing, and time consuming.
For these reasons, most investors prefer using a reputable, federally approved Regional Center, such as Insignia Capital. Our goals: To help you efficiently obtain your green card and to provide a safe and conservative capital investment.
EB-5 Immigration Process
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 three basic steps.
Select a Regional Center and Project
As an investor, there are two goals with the EB-5 Program: obtaining permanent residency (Green Card) 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
Concurrent Filings and
Adjustment of Status
(Form I-526E and Form I-485)
Priority Dates, Processing Times, and Visa Availability
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.
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.
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.
Conditional/Permanent Residency as a Path to Citizenship
The conditional green card is effective for a two-year period, during which time the investor must physically reside in the United States and must maintain their funds "at-risk."
The final step in the EB-5 process is to remove the conditions on the Green Card by filing 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.
After five years of being a Green Card holder, the investor and family are eligible to apply for US citizenship.