The EB-5 Investor Immigrant Program can be complicated, but for those who are familiar with it, this guide is a comprehensive breakdown of the of costs and timeline associated with securing your green card.
Upfront Program Fees: Minimum Investment Amount
Although the standard investment amount for the EB-5 program is $1,000,000, investors can invest the reduced amount of $500,000 if the project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). This means that the investment is going towards a project that is in an economically distressed area with unemployment 1.5 times the national average or a rural area.
Practically all applicants (99%) invest at the $500,000 level.
Upfront Program Fees: Administrative Fee
Almost all investments are made through a "Regional Center." This is an entity that pulls together EB-5 investor funds and loans them to a project (e.g., real estate, transportation, etc.). The regional center requires a team of experts, such as economists, writers, lawyers, and finders to set up the regional center, maintain compliance, and find investors. The regional center charges investors an "Administrative Fee," to recoup many of its upfront costs.
Introduction to To The EB-5 Process
The EB-5 process has three distinct stages and each phase has a combination of legal fees and government filing fees. Additionally, please know that the entire EB-5 process is spread out over several years, and fees are paid at separate points during that time. Please know that the legal fees vary depending on the number of sources of funds and the complexity of each investor*s case.
Stage 1: Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur (I-526)
The I-526 is the first form that is filed in the EB-5 process. Proof of your investment, source of funds, and project documentation are among the key pieces of information submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Legal fees = To Be Determined (TBD)
I-526 filing fee (immigrant petition) = $3,675
Stage 2: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485) OR...
Once the investor has had their I-526 petition approved, s/he then applies for his/her green card.
IF the investor is already in the U.S. when his/her I-526 is approved, then an I-485 is filed to adjust the investor's status to that that of a "Conditional" Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).
IF the investor is still living abroad, then a DS-260 must be completed online instead of filing an I-485. Additionally, the investor must undergo "Consular Processing" at a designated U.S. Embassy or Consulate. At this stage, the investor's green card is conditional and is only valid for two years. It is conditional until the investor proves that his/her investment was used to create 10 U.S. jobs. This step is completed in the next stage of the process.
NOTE: Because the investor living abroad has not yet been admitted to the U.S., s/he will undergo consular processing and pay an additional $85 Biometric Services Fee. The investor is also responsible for any additional costs associated with consular processing. Such fees include: medical examination and required vaccinations (costs vary); translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents needed for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and expenses for travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for the visa interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
Stage 3: Removal of Conditions (I-829)
As mentioned above, the investor's initial green card is only valid for two years; however, this is not a cause for concern. The program is set up this way to ensure that the investor provides the USCIS with information proving that his/her investment was used to create the requisite number of 10 U.S. jobs. Within the 90 days before the investor*s green card is set to expire, an I-829 is filed with the appropriate documentation, demonstrating that the investor satisfied the EB-5 job creation requirement
NOTE: The USCIS will automatically extend the investors green card for another year, when it receives his/her I-829 petition. This ensures that the investor does not fall out of status, while his/her petition is being processed. Once the I-829 has been approved, the conditions will be removed. At this point, the investor has two options:
1. Apply for citizenship after maintaining LPR status (conditional or otherwise) for a total of 5 years or
2. Renew his/her lawful permanent status every 10 years.
How long will it take to receive a Conditional Green Card? Part I
As discussed above, the EB-5 process is broken down into three stages. Fortunately, an investor receives his/her green card upon completion of the second stage. Unfortunately, process times for each stage continue to increase. This is no fault of the immigration attorney, regional center, or even the project developer. Rather, the EB-5 program continues to grow in popularity, and the USCIS consistently receives an increasingly large number of EB-5 applications every month. Therefore, it is critical that those interested in the EB-5 program begin the process as soon as possible.
How long will it take to receive a Conditional Green Card? Part II
The following is a breakdown of the process times for the two stages prior to an investor receiving his/her conditional green card. Please know that although these times do represent current trends in the industry, they are still best estimates provided by the USCIS and immigration experts and regularly change month to month.
Total Time as of 6/1/18 = 31 months (approx. for non-expedited projects).
NOTE: Although the average I-526 processing time is just over 2 years, this is for non-expedited projects. Although they are not very common, some projects have secured and "Expedited" status, which means that the I-526 petition is guaranteed to be processed within 60 days.
2. Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (I-485) OR Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) = 6 months (approx.)
In which project will the investment be applied?
This is a personal decision made by the investor. Although the investor can contact a project or regional center directly, it is highly recommended that s/he speak with an immigration attorney first. This is critical so that an immigration attorney can objectively determine whether the EB-5 program is the investor's best option for immigrating to the U.S.
Once it is decided that the EB-5 program is the right choice for the investor, the immigration attorney will help him/her determine the best investment option for his/her case. During this process, the immigration attorney and the investor will discuss the meaningful differences between the various project types and how they might affect the immigration process.
How many years will the investment remain with the project?
The general trend is 5 years; however, this time frame differs with each project. Working with your immigration attorney, you will get a clear understanding of the terms of repayment for each project.
What will be the return on my investment?
Again, the answer depends on the terms of the individual project. Please know that EB-5 projects generally do not provide investors with high returns. Usually, less than 1%. The focus of the program is primarily to ensure that the investor receives his/her green card, while creating the requisite number of 10 U.S. jobs.
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