EB5 Visa Program Introduction
The EB5 Visa / EB5 green card allows investors to obtain immigrant visas which can lead to permanent residence and citizenship in the United States. The EB5 Visa and investment green card program is an excellent option for anyone who wishes to gain permanent residence in the US. It also may be the only way residents of non-treaty countries who cannot obtain E-2 or E-1 visas can immigrate to the United States through investment.
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EB5 Visa Definition
EB5 is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Section 203 (b)(5) and United States Code (USC) Section 1153 (b)(5). It is also regulated by Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 204.6, copied in full for you here.
Applications begin with Form I-526: Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. EB5 investors file this form after making qualifying investments to obtain conditional EB5 green cards. Form I-526 passes through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the department that grants permanent residency and citizenship to participating immigrant investors. Your choice of immigration lawyer will help you interpret the regulations and laws detailed here, ensuring that you adhere to all guidelines.
How to Get an EB5 Visa
To obtain an EB5 Visa, which serves as a conditional green card and can lead to citizenship, you must invest $500,000 to one million dollars in capital in the US, while creating at least 10 jobs for American workers, each at 30 hours a week, for two years. Capital indicates tangible investment elements, such as property, equipment, cash, cash equivalents, and inventory. However, startup costs do not count towards your total investment, and therefore cannot help you qualify for an EB5 green card.
In some circumstances, your investment must create all 10 jobs, but you can also invest in a pre-existing regional center. A regional center is any for-profit enterprise that has gained regional center status, in order to attract EB5 immigrant investors. Regional centers are described in detail here. Jobs created indirectly through the regional center project in which you make your EB5 investment will count towards your quota.
Keep in mind that regardless of whether you invest in your own business or a regional center, your investment cannot be guaranteed by the US government or any other entity.
To receive an EB5 green card with a $500,000 investment, you must invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). A TEA is an area with an unemployment rate of 150 percent of America’s average, meaning the unemployment rate is one and a half times the current national average. A TEA is also considered a rural area with a population of less than 20,000.
Once you have made your investment, you may apply and qualify to participate in the EB5 visa program. Technically, you can petition for an EB5 green card while you are in the process of completing your full investment, but your immigration lawyer will advise you to apply after investing the total required amount, to increase your odds of an approved EB5 visa petition.
After Your Petition is Accepted for an EB5 Visa
Once your petition has been accepted, you will receive a conditional green card. The only difference between a conditional green card and a permanent green card is that after you have fulfilled the terms of the EB5 visa program for 21-24 months, you must apply to have the conditions removed to become a permanent resident. The countdown begins immediately after you obtain conditional permanent residence (CPR) status. For example, if you become a CPR in January of 2013, you must apply for the removal of conditions between October 2014 and January 2015.
A maximum of 10,000 EB5 investment visas are authorized annually. 3,000 of these visas are maintained for those who make their EB5 investments in regional centers, through the regional centers Pilot Program. Another 3,000 EB5 green cards are reserved for those who invest in targeted employment areas (TEAs).
In some circumstances, after you have completed EB5 program requirements and obtained your non-conditional EB5 visa, you may sell your investment. Selling your EB5 interests is a complex matter, and it is recommended that you consult your immigration attorney to determine what is permissible.
Applying for an EB5 investor visa is a complex process. USCIS frequently amends EB5 visa requirements, making this field impossible to navigate without professional guidance. This website and others like it serve to familiarize potential EB5 investors with the field, not as a legal guide for applying successfully. To ensure acceptance of your EB5 visa petition and eventual attainment of a non-conditional EB5 green card, hire your choice of an immigration attorney with extensive EB5 visa experience.