FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON EB-5
This FAQ page provides a handy reference on what investors need to know about EB-5 program:
WHAT IS EB-5 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM?
EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, created in 1990 by the Immigration Act of 1990, provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents, informally known as “green card” holders
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program, has two primary purposes:
- To create jobs to enhance the U.S. economy and,
- To allow qualified foreign investors to become lawful permanent U.S. residents.
Under the EB-5 Green Card Program, the foreign investor as well as his/her family will be allowed to work in the United States. The program is open to all individuals from varied backgrounds who are seeking to improve their quality of life, to retire in the United States or to have their children attend U.S. colleges or universities.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR AN EB-5 GREEN CARD?
Any foreign applicant who can invest either 1 million or $500,000 into the American economy and can document that the amount was earned legally and meet the basic requirements is qualified for an EB-5 green card. The applicants spouse and the minor children (under 21) are also eligible to qualify for the green card. Below is the list of some people who can qualify for the EB-5 green card:
- Professionals, business people
- Retirees who want to invest in business
- Parents willing to facilitate their child’s education
- F-1 students who wish to start their business
- L-1 transferee employee
- Doctors who have not passed the USMLE 1, 2 and 3 exam
The EB-5 investors are not required to work and thus investors can choose the option to travel all over the United States and can even maintain the dual residence of their Native Country and in America.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS FOR AN EB-5 VISA?
The foreign candidate needs to independently establish a business. The individual can also invest into an existing business but it should have been created after 19th November 1990.
The investor should invest USD $1,000,000 into any business or USD $500,000 ($500,000.00 minimum investment amount is extended and approved up until September 30, 2019) into a USCIS designation regional center.
The investor should be able to create at least 10 ten full time job for legal U.S. residents.
WHAT IS I-526 PETITION?
The I-526 form is used by an entrepreneur to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for status as an Immigrant to the United States under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The applicant may file this petition for himself if he has invested or are actively in the process of investing the required investment amount in a new commercial enterprise (NCE).
The applicant must submit I-526 Petitionalong with passports, employment and business documents, family and police certificates, court/prison records (if any), military records, photographs, financial statements, and all requisite documents proving that the funds came from a legitimate source such as bank statements, stock certificates, loan or mortgage recordings.After submission of the I-526 Petition, the approximate time for a foreign investor to pass the U.S. Consular interview and to receive his/her Conditional Green Card is approximately three to six months.
WHAT IS I-829 PETITION?
The I-829 petition is the final step of the EB-5 visa process for immigrant investors to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. The I-829 petition includes evidence that the immigrant investor successfully met all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements of the EB-5 program. Once the I-829 is approved, the investor’s conditional residency restriction is removed so that the investor, their spouse and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can live in the United States permanently.
The EB-5 investor can file the I-829 petition with USCIS starting 90 days before the end of the two year conditional permanent status period. The applicant’s conditional residency will be extended while the I-829 is processed. The I-829 application must be filed within 21 to 24 months of the investor’s two year conditional residency period, otherwise the ability to obtain a permanent residency card can be jeopardized.
WHAT IS AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
An EB-5 Regional Center is an organization, designated and regulated by USCIS, which facilitates investment in job-creating economic development projects by pooling capital raised under the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Regional Centers can be publicly owned, (e.g. by a city, state, or regional economic development agency), privately owned, or be a public-private partnership.
Regional Centers maximize the program’s job creation benefits by facilitating the investment of significant amounts of capital in large-scale projects often in coordination with regional economic development agencies which use the EB-5 funds to leverage additional capital. They use economic analysis models, including those developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, to demonstrate that job creation targets required by law have been achieved. For investments made through Regional Centers, at least 10 direct, indirect or induced jobs must be created. They also identify investment opportunities that will create jobs in local communities, often in partnership with economic development agencies and assist in marketing those investment opportunities to investors from around the world.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN EB-5 GREEN CARD?
The entire Immigration process generally takes about 72-84 months, depending on where the Green Card processing occurs. Prior to filing the I-526 petition, time is required for the applicant to conduct a due diligence, obtain source of funds documentation, and make the investment. I-526 adjudication currently takes about 20 months.
Generally, after the I-526 is approved, if an individual is in lawful status in the U.S., he/she can apply for Adjustment of Status (I-485) to Conditional Permanent Residence which currently takes about 26-32 months. If out of the United States, will apply for an Immigrant Visa at a home country Embassy or Consulate, which typically takes about 6-8 months or longer depending on the country. Times may vary depending on the facts of each case.
WHAT IS CONDITIONAL GREEN CARD?
A conditional green card is a temporary green card valid for two years. The EB-5 Visa applicant, their spouse and their children are given a conditional green card status for two year of probation period. The applicant has to file a petition to remove the conditional green card status during the last 90 days of the 2 year term. After completing two year term, the USCIS will inspect the business investment and decide whether or not the investor has met the necessary requirement and will provide the permanent green card residency based on the proof.
WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO PROCESS THE INVESTOR GREEN CARD PETITION?
The applicant must prepare complete biographical information and must prove the source of the investment funds. To prove the source of investment funds, USCIS requires five years of personal and business, if any, tax returns; proof of ownership in any businesses; and business licenses. The applicant must present a track record of an honest course of dealing. If capital came from a specific transaction, such as sale of a house, inheritance or gift, the applicant must prove the transaction occurred by providing an official document, such as a closing statement or contract or other official documents. Other documents may be required and vary on a case-by-case basis.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEM AREAS IN EB-5 CASES?
The most common problem area has been insufficient documentation of the source of funds. Many people try to disclose the least possible information only to have the file returned with a request for further information. It is better to provide too much information rather than too little information. In this era of terror alerts, and suspicions about money laundering, CIS case examiners require a well-documented source of funds.
WHAT RISKS DO INVESTORS FACE IN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER INVESTMENTS?
EB-5 investments is “at risk” in the same way that any equity, stock or other type of investment carries inherent risk. Regional Centers, like other entities that market investment opportunities, cannot guarantee a return oninvestment. Regional Centers also cannot guarantee return of the investment principal to the investor.
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