The United States has one of the most competitive immigration systems in the world. It is a place where many immigrate to find a better life and contribute to society in meaningful ways, while others come for education or pursue business interests.
Foreign investors looking to immigrate in the U.S. have a number of visa options, but the EB-5 visa is one of the most popular and fastest ways to obtain a green card. It is a unique investor program, designed to encourage foreign business people and their families to make significant investments in the country’s economy.
The Basics of the EB-5 Visa and Immigrant Investor Program
The EB-5 program was established by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under the EB-5 Program, investors and their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to apply for conditional residency through an immigrant petition.
In 1992, the Immigrant Investor Program was then created to encourage foreign investors to invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program is designed to help support economic growth and promote job creation.
Under the Immigrant Investor Program, investors are required to:
- Invest in commercial enterprises in the form of a sole proprietorship, partnership, holding company, joint venture, corporation, business trust, or any other for-profit entity (public/private).
- Create and preserve ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers including citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylees, and immigrants who are authorized to work in the U.S. Full-time jobs are expected to last for at least two years and should not be intermittent, temporary, or seasonal positions.
- Meet a minimum capital investment in the form of money, equipment, inventory, and other tangible property that must be legally owned by the immigrant investor. For petitions filed before November 21, 2019, the minimum investment amount required is $500,000 if the business is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,000,000 if it is in a High Employment Area (HEA). Meanwhile, a minimum investment of $900,000 in a TEA or $1,800,000 in a HEA is required for petitions filed after November 21, 2019. TEAs are defined by the U.S Department of Labor as rural areas and areas with unemployment rates that are 150% or more than the national average.
EB-5 Petition and Application Process
Foreign nationals interested in immigrating to the U.S. through the Immigrant Investor Program must apply to the USCIS and demonstrate that they meet all of the eligibility requirements for this visa.
Step 1 – Form I-526 Petition
The first step in the EB-5 visa process is for foreign nationals to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. This petition should be submitted with supporting documentation that proves the investor meets all of the eligibility requirements and can demonstrate that the investment funds are legally obtained. The USCIS will then review the application for compliance and may request additional information.
Step 2 – File DS-260 or Form I-485
Upon approval of Form I-526, foreign investors should file either form DS-260 or Form I-485. DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, must be filed by individuals who are outside the United States, while Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, must be submitted by those who are already in the U.S. Form I-485 will grant conditional permanent residence to the immigrant investor and their accompanying dependents for two years, after which the full permanent residency status can be granted.
Step 3 – Applying for Permanent Residency
After maintaining conditional resident status for two years, the immigrant investor is eligible to apply for the removal of the conditional status and receive full permanent residence. To do so, the individual must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, within the 90-day period before his or her two years of conditional residence expire.
Seek Legal Assistance from an Experienced Immigration Law Firm
The EB-5 visa program is a complex immigration matter that can be confusing and overwhelming. It is recommended that foreign investors seek the assistance of an experienced immigration law firm like Isa Law when planning to apply for this program to avoid costly mistakes and delays. For years, Isa Law has helped foreign investors and their families enter the U.S. through this immigrant investor program, paving the way for a better life in America.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, the USCIS has not published any official statement or announcement regarding the suspension of the Immigrant Investor Program. Isa Law encourages immigrant investors to stay tuned with the latest news and updates from Isa Law and USCIS website.
If you are interested in immigrating to the U.S. through the Immigrant Investor Program or would like to explore other immigration options, Isa Law is pleased to offer free consultations in our Miami, FL office. Contact Isa Law today at (305) 938-067 to speak to an expert immigration lawyer in Florida.