invest on a piece of a paperIn an effort to stimulate the United States economy during the trying economic times of the early 1990s, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was born. In exchange for both an investment in commercial enterprises in the U.S., along with proposals for promoting or supporting economic growth, qualified investors would become eligible to apply for permanent residence in the country.

The Requirements for an EB-5 Visa

Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, any entrepreneur (along with their spouses and any unmarried children they may have, provided those children are under the age of 21) can apply for permanent residence by way of a Green Card if they meet the following criteria:

  • They must make an investment in a commercial enterprise that is based in the United States.
  • Their investment must include a plan to either create or preserve at least 10 permanent  full-time jobs for qualified workers living in the United States within two years.

In order to qualify, that initial investment must either total $1,000,000 or $500,000 USD in a high-unemployment or rural area, otherwise known as a targeted employment area. Additionally, those ten permanent full-time jobs cannot be given to the spouse or children of the investor.

One of the most important things to understand about the EB-5 Program is that immigrant investor visas are always issued in a chronological order, based on the date that an original petition was filed, typically until the annual numerical limit for the investment category is reached.

At the time, only Chinese nationals are oversubscribed in their category and must wait for their priority date to become current. Each month the Department of State issues a Visa Bulletin which lists the priority date. You can check your priority date at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html.

There are also Regional Centers in which investors can invest but would not need to be involved in their regular day-to-day operations. You have to invest the same amount and the investment funds must be at risk.  There can be no guarantee that you will receive a good return on your invested funds or even the refund of your invested proceeds.

The EB-5 Application Process

All applicants must complete the following steps in order to properly apply for an EB-5 Visa:

  1. They must file a Form I-526, otherwise known as the “Petition by Alien Entrepreneur,” with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  2. When that Form I-526 is approved, they must then complete one of the following depending on their own personal situation:
    1. If the applicant was already living in the United States, they will file a Form I-485 or “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.”
    2. If the applicant was not already living in the United States, they will file Forms DS-230 or DS-260, or the “Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.”  This will allow them to obtain their EB-5 Visa for proper admission into the country.
  3. Once all appropriate forms have been submitted with all required documentation, the applicant must do a Visa interview at a United States Embassy or Consulate.
  4. 90 days before the two-year anniversary of the EB-5 Investor’s Green Card, they will need to file Form I-829, or the “Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions.” This will allow both themselves and their family to permanently live and work in the United States.

Required Documentation

Applying for an EB-5 Visa will require you to present a number of important documents at various stages of the process. In addition to the aforementioned Form DS-260, you will also need:

  • A passport that is valid for at least 60 days beyond the expiration date for an immigrant visa.
  • Two passport style photographs (two inches by two inches).
  • Civil documents including birth or marriage certificates, along with all certified translations of any documents that are not written in English.
  • Financial support documents that will be presented at your immigrant visa interview to prove to the interviewer that you will not become a public charge once admitted entry into the United States.
  • Evidence that you either have invested, or are in the process of investing, the required amount for the EB-5 Visa.
  • Completed medical examination forms proving that all required examinations and vaccinations have been completed by authorized healthcare providers or medical institutions.

The Interview Process

The interview process for EB-5 applications is another step towards guaranteeing that investors are eligible for permanent residency in the United States. During the interview, the applicant’s immigrant visa will be reviewed and the applicant will be asked to go into greater detail about the source of their funds, the purpose of their investment, their long-term business plans, goals and more.

Applicants will also have to answer questions about previous entries into the U.S., any potential visa overstays and more during this 30 to 45 minute interview. All supporting documentation will be reviewed thoroughly before a final determination is made.

It is always recommended that applicants enlist the help of an immigration lawyer during this process, both to help make sure that all required documents are submitted properly and that they contain accurate information (as submitting fraudulent documents is a major contributing factor to visa ineligibility), and that they are as prepared as possible for their visa interview.

If you would like to find out additional information about the EB-5 Visa Investor Program contact Pobjecky & Pobjecky, LLP. Renee Pobjecky is an experienced immigration attorney and is EB-5 verified. We can help you start the visa process today.

Photo by OTA Photos / CC BY