Guide to Applying for EB5 Visa for Immigrant Investors
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the EB-5 Investor Immigration program, which lets investors obtain permanent residence upon entry to the United States. The program also allows your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to get conditional, and eventually permanent, green cards as accompanying relatives.
The number of immigrant visas granted for investors is up to 10,000 in a year, but limits are imposed per country as well. If the number of investors filing a green card application exceeds the limit, you may be put on a waiting list based on your priority date, or the date of filing of the first part of your application.
What are the minimum capital investment requirements?
According to immigrant laws, immigrant investors must invest capital in a US business amounting to at least:
- $1 million, or $500,000 for a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), for petitions filed before the 21st of November 2019; or
- $1.8 million, or $900,000 for TEAs, for applications submitted on or after the 21st of November 2019.
The invested capital may be in the form of cash, cash equivalents, equipment, inventories, other tangible property. Furthermore, the immigrant investor must have legal ownership of the investment money. USCIS will evaluate where the investment came from to make sure it was from a lawful source. As such, green card applicants will need to provide proof, such as paperwork regarding salary, investment, sale of lawfully obtained assets, gift, or inheritance. As long as you have the capital to invest and can prove that you are in the process of investing it in a commercial enterprise, no particular business training or experience is required of you.
Where should I invest in to qualify for an EB-5 visa?
The investment can be made to any new commercial enterprise, as long as the business employs at least ten full-time employees, produces goods or services, and benefits the economy of the US. Full-time employment refers to jobs that have at least 35 hours of service a week.
The job creation requirements may vary slightly depending on the location or state of the for-profit businesses invested in.
- If the business is not located in a regional center, then it should directly create full-time positions, meaning the employer is the enterprise itself, or its wholly-owned subsidiaries.
- If the business is within a regional center, then both direct jobs and indirect jobs are counted towards the minimum number of employees.
- If the business is a troubled one, meaning it has been around for two years and suffered an annual loss of 20% within two years leading up to the purchase, then the investor does not need to create new job positions. They only need to show that the number of existing employees will not decrease for the next two years.
What are the limitations of applying for a green card?
- Since the qualifying requirements are very rigid, denial of visa applications by USCIS is possible. Hiring an experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine if an EB-5 visa application is for you, or assess if you could fit into another category for a greater chance of success.
- An EB-5 visa is a conditional green card that is valid for two years and subject to green card renewal after that. If you cannot fulfill the requirements for job creation within two years, or fail to maintain eligibility in other ways, then your provisional green card will expire.
- You have to maintain your investment and have an active engagement in the business until you are able to get a permanent green card. However, you can apply for US citizenship if you’re able to keep your green card for five years and live in the U.S. continuously during that time.
- You must have permanent residency in the United States, instead of using the visa for work and travel purposes only.
- Your permanent resident card may be taken away if it is misused. Some of the grounds for deportation of a green card holder include living outside the country for too long, committing a crime, or failing to inform immigration authorities of a change of address.
Since an EB-5 visa is one of the most difficult and expensive categories to apply for a green card, failing the application once may hurt future chances of success for a petitioner. Consult with reliable immigration attorneys from AmLaw Group to get legal advice regarding your EB-5 visa application.