Is EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Right for me?
EB-5 program is often in the news. There is a lot of controversy associated with the program. Are wealthy foreigners buying green cards? Or do they get cheated out of their hard earned money? In this guide, we'll give a basic overview of the program to provide a background to these issues.
What is an EB-5 program?The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is available to foreigners who want to get a green card by investing in a new business that will create 10 new full-time jobs for the U.S. workers. This program offers wealthy foreigners a unique opportunity to relatively quickly obtain a permanent residency in the U.S. without having a U.S. relative or employer petition for them. The minimum investment in the U.S. economy under this program is $1,000,000 or, if the business is in a certain designated area, the required investment is reduced to $500,000. EB-5 visa is one of the fastest and reliable methods of immigration to the U.S. for a whole family.
Quick Overview of the Benefits of Obtaining a Green card via EB-5 ProgramYou and your family can get permanent residence in the United States simply by investing $500,000.
Your investment could grow and bring you dividends.
You wouldn't have to wait in line for a green card, know English well, have advanced degree, have managerial experience, or qualify under age restrictions.
You and members of your family will have a right to work in the U.S.
You and your family could live in the U.S. enjoying safety and positive business climate.
After two years, you will get a Permanent Resident status, and five years later you could apply to become a United States citizen.
Having a green card, you could freely move in and out of the U.S., as well as travel to dozens of other countries with no visas.
Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens can get bank financing (including mortgages) under much better conditions than non-residents.
As a Permanent Resident, you will be able to send your children to the American schools and universities with in-state tuition, which is much lower than what the foreign students must pay.
General Requirements for Participating in the EB-5 ProgramThe minimal investment is $500,000
You must invest in a real business which will involve some business risk
Your investment must create 10 American jobs
You have to manage the business (except if you invest via a Regional Center)
The invested capital must have been obtained legally
You have to satisfy general immigration requirements
1. Minimal investment
Generally, the minimum required investment in the United States is $1 million. However, the minimum qualifying investment within Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area) is $500,000. Often, Regional Centers are organized in Targeted Employment Areas, which means that investment through a Regional Center usually needs to be just $500,000.
2. You must invest in a real business which will involve some business risk
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise. Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including:
A sole proprietorship;
Partnership (whether limited or general);
Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.
Note: commercial enterprise does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.
Business risk implies that the investment must be made into a real business, which does not have a guarantee of success. Investments into zero-risk instruments, for example, Treasury bonds, do not qualify.
3. Your investment must create 10 American jobs
An investor must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor's admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
A definition of a qualified employee does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B visa holder), or foreigners who are not authorized to work in the United States.
4. You have to manage your business
Investor would also have to show that he or she is actively involved in the management of the new commercial enterprise (day-to-day or through policy). But if you invest via a Regional Center, you would not be required to handle the day-to-day management of the business.
5. The invested capital must have been obtained legally
To participate in the EB-5 program, investors have to show to the USCIS that the money they are investing has been obtained legally. Evidence proving legality could include tax returns, documented gifts, documentation showing sale of stocks, bonds, real estate properties, etc.
6. You have to satisfy general immigration requirements
To obtain Permanent Residence (green card) via the EB-5 program, an investor must still satisfy general U.S. immigration requirements, such as: go through medical examination, background check, not be a member of the Communist Party, etc.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor ProcessApplication Process
File Form I-526, Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, with the USCIS. Collection of evidence and selection of an investment project will take 2-3 months.
Upon approval of the I-526 petition, either:
File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
File DS-230 or DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa for admission to the United States.
Processing of the petition and an application to adjust status or obtain an immigrant visa will take between 8 and 18 months. It's not possible to get a better estimate because the speed of the USCIS depends on various internal governmental priorities. Upon the approval of the I-485 application or upon entry into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa, the EB-5 investor, investor's spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 will be granted conditional permanent residence for a two-year period.
To remove conditions from the permanent resident status, investor will have to file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, 90 days before the two-year anniversary of the granting of the EB-5 investor's conditional resident status (Green Card).
If USCIS approves this petition, the conditions will be removed from the EB-5 applicant's status, and the EB-5 investor and derivative family members will be allowed to permanently live, work, and attend school in the United States.
EB-5 Investment through a Regional CenterInvestments can be made through a USCIS Regional Center. A Regional Center is defined as any economic entity, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment. Investments made through Regional Centers can take advantage of a more expansive concept of job creation including both direct and indirect jobs.
Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a Regional Center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if the investment is affiliated with a Regional Center.
Another advantage of investing though a Regional Center is that the investor is not required to handle the day to day management of the business.
Moreover, Regional Centers are typically organized in Targeted Employment Areas, which means that investment through a Regional Center usually needs to be just $500,000. Here you can see a list of the USCIS Regional Centers.
What is the total cost of an EB-5 Regional Center investment?Of course, in order to obtain a green card through the EB-5 process, an immigrant will have certain expenses in addition to the $500,000 investment. The exact dollar amount is impossible to establish, because each client's case is different with various factors that may influence the final cost.
In general, total cost of obtaining a green card through the EB-5 program consists of the following elements:
Capital Investment: most Regional Centers are located in Targeted Employment Areas, which means that an investment amount of $500,000 is sufficient.
Administration Fee: Regional Center projects normally charge administration fee, which is commonly deposited into escrow and is payable to the Regional Center only upon approval of the I-526 petition. Administration fee would typically range between $40,000 and $60,000.
Legal Fees: hiring an attorney to file your EB-5 petition would typically cost between $12,000 and $25,000.
Filing Fees: USCIS requires a filing fee of $1500 for every I-526 Petition, as well as a filing fee of $1070 for every I-485.
Translation Fees: USCIS requires all documents and evidence to be translated into English. You can expect to pay between $20 and $50 per page for the translation services.
Various Miscellaneous Costs.
Thus, to go through the EB-5 process, you should expect to spend and invest between $560,000 and $590,000.
In ConclusionIf you and your family are thinking about immigrating to the United States, the EB-5 Visa is definitely a great choice. There are plenty of benefits to obtaining a U.S. Green Card (and U.S. citizenship a few years later): ability to live and work anywhere in the United States, opportunity to send your children to the U.S. universities and schools at in-state tuition rates, visa-free travel to dozens of countries, access to top doctors and hospitals, and endless economic opportunities to develop and grow your business.