EB-5 Visa

The United States EB-5 visa, employment-based fifth preference category or 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—by investing at least $900,000 (since November 21, 2019) to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.
The EB-5 program is intended to encourage both “foreign investments and economic growth.” The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is one of five employment-based (EB) preference programs in the United States.

EB-5 Visa Questions

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Top 10 Questions about EB-5 Visa

The foreign applicant must independently establish a business OR invest into an existing business which was created or restructured after 19 November 1990.

The foreign investor is required to invest USD$1,800,000 into the aforementioned business or USD$900,000 when investing into a USCIS designated TEA (Targeted Employment Area)

The investment must create at least ten Full-time jobs for legal U.S. residents or citizens.

For more detailed and comprehensive information on the requirements for an EB-5 Investor Visa and to obtain the official U.S. government information regarding the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and the Regional Centers Pilot Program, please visit the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

The smaller investment threshold of $900,000 is allowed for projects located within TEAs (Targeted Employment Area). A TEA is either a rural area outside of a metropolitan statistical area with a population of less than 20,000 or (ii) an area experiencing an unemployment rate 50% greater than the national average unemployment rate. For any project not located within a TEA, the minimum investment is currently $1,800,000.

Here’s an estimated EB-5 visa application timeline for foreign nationals excluding those from Mainland China:

18 – 24 months for your I-526 application to be processed

6 months for your Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) to be processed, after which you receive a temporary green card

24+ months for your I-829 application to be processed, after which your temporary green card becomes a permanent green card

Adding all of that up, you’re looking at roughly 4 – 5 years to receive your permanent green card via EB-5. However, you will receive a temporary green card within 2 – 2.5 years, and a temporary green card holder is granted the same rights and benefits as a permanent green card holder.

While the EB-5 Program requires investors to be involved in managing the NCE through either day-to-day management or policy formation, no specific background experience, education, etc., are required. For direct investments in which the investor will likely take a more active role in management, certain business or financial experience may be helpful—but the primary requirement is that the NCE creates the necessary number of jobs.

This depends on whether the investment is being made directly into a new commercial enterprise or into a project sponsored by a regional center—as well as how the project is structured. Most EB-5 investments are in projects sponsored by regional centers, and most regional center investments involve the investor transferring funds into an escrow account that is authorized to release the funds into the investment vehicle.

E2 Investor visas are available only to residents of treaty nations. The E2 visas are available only to citizens of nations with which the US has such treaties. China and India are not a treaty nation with the US, so nationals of these countries are ineligible for E2 Investor visas. The E2 visa is only for people who possess the nationality of a country with an E2 treaty with the US.

Under the EB5, investors must invest a minimum investment amount prescribed by the US in financing a business. Along with the full-time employment to at least ten American workers. Or otherwise, invest a specified amount in a targeted employment area, otherwise abbreviated as a TEA. The EB-5 visa is not limited to certain countries.

  1. Permanency

The EB-5 visa is an immigrant, while the E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa.

  1. Minimum Investment Amount

The EB-5 visa requires that you make a minimum investment of $900,000. The E2 visa has no minimum investment amount but requires that you invest a “substantial” amount of capital.

  1. Job Creation

The EB-5 visa requires that you create ten full-time jobs for US workers. The E2 visa has no job creation requirement.

  1. Processing Time

Getting an E2 visa is much faster than getting an EB-5 visa. The E2 visa can be processed in 15 days with premium processing. The EB-5 visa currently takes about two years to process.

  1. Role of Investor

With an E2 visa, you, as the principal E2 investor, can only work for the E2 company. With an EB-5 visa, you can work for any company.

EB-5 is the only investment based visa that enables the investor to apply directly for permanent resident status in exchange for a significant investment into the U.S. The EB-5 program is overseen by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) scrutiny. The standard EB-5 program, or “Stand Alone” investment option is the original investment program.

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa has quickly become one of the most popular visa programs and positive pathway to a Green Card Visa the United States has ever conceived. Since its creation as part of the Immigration Act of 1990, the visa has risen from obscurity to become a darling of pro-immigration discourse. Responsible for the creation of thousands of full-time jobs for American workers and the influx of well over a billion dollars into the United States economy, the reasons for its popularity are quite clear.

For an EB-5 investment to be considered at risk, there can be no guarantee of a return of the investment (e.g., a redemption agreement). Due diligence should be conducted to determine whether or not such language is included in the project documentation, and particular attention should be paid to the exit strategy.

Your choice of regional center and the appropriate project is perhaps more important right now than it has ever been.

An EB-5 investment must remain at risk until after the I-829 petition is adjudicated. If no longer considered at risk when the I-829 is being adjudicated, the petition will be denied.

Because the EB-5 visa is an “immigrant” visa category, it qualifies you to become a lawful permanent resident.

As a lawful permanent resident you can:

  • study in the US and have access to US schools
  • live and work anywhere in the US
  • and many other benefits

That said, the EB-5 process is long and has many steps:

Keep in mind that Applying for an EB-5 visa does not give you any lawful status in the U.S. So, unless you have some other lawful status in the U.S. (such as a student visa) you have to wait until you become a conditional lawful permanent resident, before you can start studying in the US.

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