The EB-5 visa program encourages foreign investors to invest in U.S. businesses and create jobs for American workers.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the EB-5 visa application process step by step and discuss the EB-5 processing time to help you prepare for a smooth application.
The EB-5 Visa Program
Before diving into the application process, it is best to ensure you have a crucial understanding of the EB-5 program.
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant investment program encouraging foreign investors to invest in and stimulate the U.S. economy. In exchange for permanent residency or a green card, you are required to make a for-profit investment that preserves or creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.
There are two primary investment options:
You can invest in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or an existing, troubled business that will create or preserve 10 full-time jobs.
Regional Center Project investment
Alternatively, you can invest in a USCIS-designated regional center that pools funds from multiple EB-5 investors to fund job-creating projects. As of April 2023, there are 640 government-selected regional centers across the United States.
Minimum Investment Requirement
The minimum investment or capital requirement is one of the most straightforward requirements for the EB-5 visa. If you are investing in a targeted employment area (TEA), the minimum investment amount is $800,000. On the other hand, if you are investing in a non-TEA, the minimum investment is higher at $1.05 million. Note that the investment amounts are subject to change according to inflation every five years. Ensure you are getting the most accurate information from the USCIS.
Additionally, you must ensure that your investment fund comes from a lawful source. Read our EB-5 source of funds guide to learn more about this.
Targeted Employment Area (TEA) refers to an area that needs economic stimulation. It includes rural areas or areas with high unemployment rates of at least 150% of the national average rate. Your minimum investment amount will depend on whether you invest in a TEA.
EB-5 Application Process
Once you have determined your eligibility, chosen a project, gathered your supplementary documents, and ensured your capital meets the minimum requirement and is lawfully sourced, you can begin the application process. It generally involves three steps:
File Form I-526
The first step is to file your I-526 petition. We recommend working with an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney to ensure your case is compelling, accurate, and complete. The EB-5 program can be complex and often requires the expertise of professionals to ensure success. Ensure your petition has all the necessary documentation and evidence your immigration attorney recommends to demonstrate compliance with the requirements. Once you are approved, you can proceed to the next step.
EB-5 Processing time: The USCIS processing time varies depending on several factors, including but not limited to the workload, the complexity of your particular case, and the adjudicator. On average, it can take between 18 to 24 months to receive a decision.
Conditional permanent residency
Once your I-526 petition is approved, you and your dependents will be granted conditional permanent residency in the U.S. It is valid for two years.
Suppose you are in the U.S. on a different, non-immigrant visa when your I-526 is approved. In that case, you may apply for an adjustment of status via Form I-485, allowing you to transition from your non-immigrant status to an immigrant one without leaving the U.S. However, if you are outside the U.S. or in your home country, you need to apply at the U.S. consulate in your home country.
EB-5 Processing time: As previously mentioned, the EB-5 processing time varies depending on several factors. It is best to expect around 8 to 14 months. The USCIS will issue you and your dependents conditional green cards once approved.
File Form I-829
To remove the conditions on your status and turn your conditional green card into an unconditional or permanent green card, you must file an I-829 petition within 90 days before your conditional green card expires.
To succeed, you must demonstrate that you have fulfilled the EB-5 visa requirements, including maintaining your investment and preserving or creating 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. You will then receive a green card allowing you and your dependents the permanent right to live, study, and work anywhere in the United States.
EB-5 Processing time: On average, the EB-5 processing time for the I-829 can take around 21 to 30 months. Once approved, the conditional status will be removed, and you and your family can enjoy lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
Click here for a handy guide on which documents you may need to support your EB-5 application.
Ready to Begin Your EB-5 Visa Application?
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