The EB-5 Visa Program: What It Is, Who It’s For, & How It Works

What It Is

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is one of the five employment-based (EB) preference programs in the United States. This visa has become increasingly popular recently as many people are choosing the EB-5 visa over the traditional employment visa, the H-1B. This visa provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing at least $1,000,000 to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.  Alternatively, EB-5 visa applicants can invest in targeted employment areas such as rural or high unemployment areas, lowering the investment threshold to $500,000.

Who It’s For

To receive an EB-5 Visa, there are two qualifications that you must meet. First, you must be able to invest at least $500,000 or at least $1,000,000 (plus additional costs such as fees and taxes) into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs. Second, you must be able to prove this money was lawfully obtained and that it’s not borrowed money.

How It Works

An EB-5 visa applicant must provide proof of the capacity to preserve or create 10 new full-time jobs for qualified US workers. These roles must be created within a two-year time period. The positions ​can be created​ either directly or indirectly, depending on whether the investment is made in a new commercial enterprise or in a regional center.  The definition of a “direct job” is a job that establishes an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.  An “indirect job” are those jobs held outside the new commercial enterprise but that are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.

Regional centers are alternatives to EB-5 visa holders investing in a new commercial enterprise. Regional centers are federally approved third-party intermediaries that profit through a commission by connecting foreign investors with developers in need of funding. They are usually private for-profit businesses that are approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This basically means that someone who wishes to obtain an EB-5 visa does not have to start their own business, but rather invest in a regional center.

One of the benefits of investing in a regional center is that jobs may be created indirectly through economic activity. This is different from a direct investment because a direct investment requires one to directly employ 10 American workers.

While initially the EB-5 visa holders are issued a conditional green card, after a period of time (given their investment does, in fact, produce 10 new jobs), they are able to apply for a permanent green card. The EB-5 program was created to encourage foreign investments and economic growth.

How To Get One

As with any visa, the first step should always be to make sure that you are qualified for the visa. The true start of the process is selecting your investment and putting money in the US securities or establishing a business. After this, you should hire an immigration attorney to assist you in the process of preparing and submitting Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. The petition must be submitted with all the necessary supporting documents and the USCIS filing fee of $3,675 must be paid. Following the approval of your visa, you will have an interview at your country’s US embassy or consulate, if you are abroad. You will then go through consular processing and, if approved, will enter the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident. If you are in the United States, you would apply for adjustment of status through Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.

Why You Should Apply

There are many benefits that come along with an EB-5 visa, but what attracts most people to this program is the benefit of permanent residency. Some visas explicitly state that while you have them you cannot apply for permanent residency and others can take many years before you’re even allowed to apply.

Many people are attracted to this visa because it does not require you to speak English, you don’t need business management experience, you don’t need to meet any educational requirements, and college fees are offered at the same rates as U.S. citizens. This visa is so appealing to people because it is a direct route to permanent residency, whereas the process for other visas can be far more complicated. If you are interested in applying for an EB-5 visa, reach out to an immigration attorney to schedule a consultation and obtain more information.  

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