The EB-5 Visa Immigrant Investor program was adopted into law in 1990 with the goal of stimulating the American economy and creating American jobs through foreign investment. This is done with a minimum investment $1,000,000 that leads to the creation of 10 jobs for American workers. However, in areas that are deemed high-unemployment areas and rural areas, the minimum investment required drops to $500,000. The investment can be made by purchasing an existing enterprise for reconstruction or reorganization to maximize results or by showing that the investment will increase the network of the company or number of employees by a minimum of 40%.
Qualifications and Ideal Candidates
Unlike other visas that can have many requirements that are extremely detailed, the EB-5 only has two requirements that must be met. To obtain an EB-5 visa, a person must be able to invest at least $500,000 (plus additional costs such as fees and taxes) into an approved program that will create at least 10 permanent full-time American jobs. The second qualification requires proof that the money was lawfully obtained and is not borrowed money. An ideal candidate for this visa is simply someone who has the funds available to make the investment. Other work visas can require that you speak English, meet specific educational and training requirements, or have a certain number of years of work experience in a particular field.
Choosing where to invest your money is a very important part of the application process. If you are uninterested in investing individually, you can invest in a regional center. 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 means that someone wishing to obtain an EB-5 visa does not have to start their own business, they can invest in one that is known as a regional center. For some people this is very advantageous because it can be done in a shorter amount of time that starting a new business. One of the benefits of investing in a regional center is that jobs may be created indirectly through economic activity. This is different than a direct investment because a direct investment requires one to directly employ 10 American workers.
Timeline of The EB-5 Application Process
The approximate amount of time it will take you to apply and receive your EB-5 visa is about 26-36 months. While this may seem like a long application process, it is actually much shorter than the application process for other work visas like the H-1B, which operates on a lottery system. This means that you could potentially have to wait many years to be approved. The first step in your application process is filing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to receive a permanent resident status, or “green card”, through the EB-5 visa program. Preparing for filing the petition can take up to two months with the help of an immigration attorney. The help of an immigration attorney during the application process can be invaluable because they will know what documentation and evidence you need to prove your eligibility.
The next step in the process is waiting for your petition to be approved or denied. There are currently over 30,000 petitions that the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) has to review. This means it could take up to 25 months to hear back on the status of your application. If your application is approved, then you move into the process of obtaining a conditional green card. If you are not currently living in the United States, this step is relatively straightforward and usually takes between 4 to 9 months. You should be prepared to have an interview at the U.S. consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. If you are currently residing in the United States, your immigration attorney will have to file a petition to convert your temporary status to lawful permanent residence status. This can take from between 3 to 6 months.
How to Obtain an EB-5 Visa
As with any visa, the first step should always be to make sure that you are qualified for this visa. You can begin the process by selecting an 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 petitioning for a visa. You must prepare your visa petition with all of the necessary documents and then file it. The filing is usually done on your behalf by the immigration attorney. Reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and for how they can assist you with a consultation on your unique circumstances.