If foreign investors can help spur job growth and grow the economy then the U.S. government wants them to join their “Immigrant Investor” program. The EB-5 visa, also known as the Immigrant Investor program, was established by Congress to allow foreign investors an easier pathway to lawful permanent residency in the U.S. Essentially, the program was designed to catalyze investment in American enterprises through immigration.
Through an EB-5 visa, alien investors can become lawful permanent U.S. residents, provided they meet a few prerequisites first. Primarily, this program is designed to lead to more domestic U.S jobs, so a number of jobs created must be met as part of the EB-5 investor visa requirements. If a potential immigrant has the capital investment to create jobs in the United States, especially in areas where jobs are more scarce than usual, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Visa could be the preferred legal route of immigration into the U.S.
Goals of the Immigrant Investor Program
- Stimulate economic growth and job creation by fostering investments in U.S. businesses.
- Allow alien entrepreneurs an easier pathway to permanent U.S. residency.
Initially established as part of the Immigration Act of 1990: the Immigrant Investor Program is an immigrant visa program that was created to enhance job-creating investments for people who have invested in or are in the process of investing in U.S. business. The EB-5 is the only visa category specifically served to facilitate the admission of investors and entrepreneurs as lawful, permanent U.S. residents.
Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card) Status
There is presently a four-step process to obtaining a Green Card (Lawful Permanent Resident status) through the EB-5 visa program.
- Fill out, submit, and receive an approval for Form I-526.
- Apply for an immigrant visa through adjustment of status (Form I-485) in the United States with USCIS, or through an application for immigrant visa (Form DS-230) with the Department of State (DOS).
- Upon approval of Step 2, you are granted two-years of conditional permanent resident status.
- Submit a Form I-829 petition to remove the conditions on your Green Card at the end of the two-year conditional period.
If you have fulfilled the EB-5 visa requirements then the conditions of your Lawful Permanent Resident status will be removed. You will then be an unconditional Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States.
Who Can Apply for an EB-5 Visa?
Petitioners for the EB-5 visa program must be invested or currently in the process of investing the requisite amount in a new commercial enterprise. The applicant must be involved in day-to-day management or policy formulation in some capacity, and the new commercial enterprise must meet the following qualifications:
- Benefit the U.S. economy; and
- Create 10 full-time jobs in the United States for non-immediate family members that can be legally employed in the country.
Important qualifications for the “new commercial enterprise” include:
- Forming a new business after November 29, 1990;
- Purchasing a business formed on or before November 29, 1990 and restructuring or reorganizing it into a new commercial enterprise;
- Expanding a business formed on or before November 29, 1990, through an investment significant enough to substantially change the company’s net worth or the number of employees.
These requirements are subject to change. Be sure to visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services website or contact a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate abroad for more specific details on the EB-5 visa requirements.
EB-5 Visa Application Process
Each year, a maximum of 10,000 EB-5 visas are allocated to eligible intending immigrants. If certain eligibility requirements are met, then one could apply for the EB-5 visa by filling out a Form I-526 petition. It’s important to note that only entrepreneurs that wish to immigrate to the United States can be approved for an EB-5 visa.
The form has a filing fee of $3,675 (as of July 2017) and has about a dozen or so pages each of instructions and paperwork. According to the latest EB-5 visa statistics, demand for petitions has exceeded the allotment of visa per year. Be sure to complete all sections of the form because the form will be rejected if some of the fields are missing or evidence is not provided.