Applicants must commit $500,000 to $1,000,000 to a new business or project that will create at least ten jobs over a specified time period and submit a detailed business plan to be approved by the USCIS. Upon approval of the application process, an investor receives conditional U.S residency. Permanent residency can be granted after a 2-year conditional period if the employment objectives are fulfilled.
Benefits of EB-5 Visa: Investors receive conditional green cards for themselves, their spouse, and any children under the age of 21.
Applications in 2012 = 7,641
Current maximum applications per year = 10,000 (there are also country quotas)
A good project idea would be a hotel such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, or Starwood.
The main goal of the program is residency, which is only granted unconditionally if the EB-5 project fulfills its job creation requirements.
In more detail:
Getting a green card can be a long and frustrating journey for many applicants. Most will need a sponsor – a U.S. employer with a full-time job offer or a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Most job-based applicants will need labor certification – an arduous process to prove that there are no U.S. workers who can do the job.
Labor certification takes one to three years, and in the current job market the outcome is highly uncertain.
There is a limited annual supply of green cards, with long backlogs for many applicants – six to eight years for skilled workers and professionals, five to eight years for adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and nine years for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
Fortunately, there is a way to get a green card that does not require a sponsor or labor certification and can be completed in about a year – the EB-5 visa for immigrant investors.
This visa is available to foreign nationals who invest money in a U.S. business and create or preserve jobs for U.S. workers. To obtain an EB-5 visa, an applicant must invest at least $500,000 and create or preserve at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. The investor's spouse and unmarried children can obtain EB-5 visas based on the same investment.
The Three-Step Process
There are three steps required to obtain a permanent green card based on investment. After completion of step two, the investor will receive a conditional green card valid for two years.
Once step three is complete, the investor will receive a permanent green card.
Step 1: Filing Proof of the Qualifying Investment and Source of Investment Funds
In order to qualify for a green card through investment, an investor must file Form I-526
(Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) with evidence that he or she has invested or has committed to invest
equity capital into a commercial enterprise in the United States.
The minimum investment amount is $1,000,000, but this amount is reduced to
$500,000 if the commercial enterprise is located in a rural area or a high
unemployment area. The investor must show that he or she obtained the investment
funds lawfully through employment, investment, gift, inheritance, or other means.
The investor must also show that the investment will create or preserve at least 10
full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
Depending upon the investor's personal preference, the investor may be actively
engaged in the management of the U.S. business or may be a limited partner who is
not involved in day-to-day management of the business.
The investor may start or purchase a U.S. business as the sole owner of the
business, or invest as co-owner with other U.S. or foreign investors, or invest
through a regional center that combines the investment capital of multiple foreign
investors into a single business enterprise or multiple enterprises.
Investors who participate in regional center projects are permitted to show that their
investment has created or preserved jobs indirectly in the regional economy, while
other investors must show that their investment has created or preserved jobs
directly on the payroll of the business enterprise in which they invest.
Step 2: Obtaining the Two-Year Conditional Green Card
Once USCIS has approved the Form I-526 petition, the investor moves on to the second
step in the green card process. The second step allows the investor (and the investor's
spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21) to obtain the conditional green
Prior to beginning this step, the investor makes a choice either to obtain the green
card by applying in the U.S. through an adjustment of status application (if the
investor is already in the U.S. in lawful temporary visa status) or to obtain the green
card by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.
Both processes require medical exams, criminal record checks, and documents such
as birth and marriage certificates.
After the adjustment of status application is approved by USCIS in the United States,
or after the U.S. Consulate approves the immigrant visa application, the investor and
the investor's spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 will receive
conditional green cards valid for two years.
Step 3: Obtaining Permanent Resident Status
Prior to the end of the two-year period of the conditional green card, the investor
must apply for permanent residence by submitting Form I-829 (Petition by
Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) to USCIS along with evidence that the investor
has actually invested the required amount of capital in a commercial enterprise; that
the investment was sustained for a two-year period; and that the enterprise created
or preserved at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
After approval of this step, the investor and family are granted permanent resident
Optional Step 4: Obtaining U.S. Citizenship
On the fifth anniversary of obtaining Conditional Resident status, the investor and
family may become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
To become eligible for U.S. citizenship, the investor or family member must maintain
his primary residence in the United States for five years, and must be physically
present in the United States at least half of the days during this five-year period.
There is no requirement to apply for U.S. citizenship; the immigrant investor or
family member may choose to remain in Permanent Resident status indefinitely.
Who Should Consider Getting an EB-5 Visa?
EB-5 can work for almost anyone who has $500,000 to invest or who can obtain the
necessary funds through a gift or a loan.
Some examples include:
Families from countries with civil strife, high crime, or political repression
Retirees who do not want to work in the U.S. or who only want to work part-time
Entrepreneurs who want to start a U.S. business, particularly those from countries
that are not eligible for E-2 (treaty investor) nonimmigrant visas
Employees in E, H, L, or other nonimmigrant visa status whose employer will not
sponsor them or who have been sponsored but are stuck in long backlogs
Recent graduates of U.S. universities who do not have a U.S. job offer, or may not
succeed with labor certification, or do not want to be tied to a particular employer
College students who cannot qualify for reduced in-state tuition while holding F-1 or
J-1 visa status, and spouses in F-2 visa status who want to work
Parents who want to reside in the U.S. while their children attend school here
Spouses and parents of permanent residents
Adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens
Other relatives for whom there is no green card category
A person who needs long-term medical treatment in the U.S.