Living in America: 4 Steps Toward Making the EB-5 Citizenship Dream Come True

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Tens of thousands of people have received U.S. Green Cards — a mark of legal, permanent residency — through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The interest in the program suggests that investors believe it offers an unparalleled opportunity to take advantage of the American Dream and begin life in America. If you’d like to be one of those investors, here are four important first steps in your EB-5 journey.

  1. Learn the EB-5 basics. The EB-5 visa program is intended to spur the U.S. economy and create jobs by allowing foreign investors to put their money into a variety of U.S. investment vehicles. Not only does the EB-5 visa create a direct path to obtaining a U.S. Green Card for investors, it also allows the same benefits to the investor’s family, including spouse and unmarried children who are 21-years-old and younger. Chinese citizens were the leading investors participating in the EB-5 program, but in recent years investors from the world over have taken advantage of the program. Increasingly, the program is seeing participants from Brazil, India, Vietnam, Singapore, and other countries.

    A few of the differences between the EB-5 visa and some other well-known types of U.S. immigration are:

    1. Family members in the U.S. do not need to sponsor investors who want to obtain an EB-5 visa.
    2. EB-5 applicants do not need to be employed in the U.S.
    3. EB-5 applicants do need to meet minimum financial investment requirements based on the type of investment.
  2. Find an investment vehicle. A key part of the application process for the EB-5 Visa includes finding and making an approved investment in the U.S. We’ll broadly discuss two types of investments. One is an investment through a designated Regional Center. The other is an individual investment, which the EB-5 investor can control. Both types of investments are at least $500,000 to $1 million, depending on where the investment is located, and must create at least 10 U.S. jobs.
    1. Regional Centers: Regional centers are organizations designated by USCIS to promote economic growth within a defined geography. Projects sponsored by a regional center can take credit direct, indirect, and induced job creation, whereas direct EB-5 investments can only take credit for direct job creation.
    2. Direct EB-5 Investment: These business project investments can be directly managed by the investor. This is an investment made through the main EB-5 program. Direct investments can’t receive credit for indirect/induced job creation. Thus, dollar-for-dollar, an EB-5 investment usually creates more indirect/induced jobs than direct jobs.

    Of note: The regional center program, created in 1992, is separate from the main EB-5 program, created in 1990. The regional center program expired in September 2015 and has been extended through continuing resolutions by the U.S. government. The main EB-5 program is permanent.

  3. File an I-526 Petition. Once an EB-5 applicant has found a suitable investment, their immigration attorney files a Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. That form petitions the U.S. government for a place in the EB-5 program. It identifies the investment the EB-5 applicant has made — whether in a regional center or an individual investment.Sources for the investment must be carefully and specifically documented. It can take more than three years for the government to approve, deny, or request more information regarding the I-526 petition and continue the applicant along the way on their EB-5 journey – one reason many EB-5 firms suggest starting the process as soon as possible.

  4. Get your conditional visa. If a petitioner’s I-526 is successfully adjudicated, a waiting process known as “retrogression” occurs, in which the wait time for visa is very dependent on the applicant’s country of origin. Additionally, the application processing time varies – it currently takes about a year. Obtaining that conditional resident status will require the filing of one of two forms.
    1. Form I-485: for investors already lawfully living in the U.S.
    2. Form DS-230: for investors not already living in the U.S.

From there, filing of the Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions begins the process of removing conditions on residency status. The Form I-829 must be filed within the 90-day window immediately before expiration of conditional residency. The next steps in this important journey begin.

If you’d like to discuss just what those next steps are, please fill out the “Contact Us” form on this page. And best of luck in your desire to live the American Dream!

The information and views expressed are for informational purposes only and do not constitute investment advice, a recommendation to buy, hold or sell any security, or a solicitation to purchase or sell any security in any jurisdiction in which such and offer would be unlawful. Nothing in this document should be taken as legal advice regarding immigration, the EB-5 program, or the ability of anyone to meet U.S. immigration requirements and successfully obtain permanent U.S. residency. The status of the EB-5 program and USCIS processing times are subject to change without notice. Individuals should consult with their immigration counsel, financial adviser, or similar representative prior to making any decision.

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