The EB-5 immigrant investor program was introduced by Congress in 1990 through the Immigration Act. The EB-5 visa provides an opportunity for foreign investors to acquire permanent residence in the U.S. From the time it was established, EB-5 Visa has been a reliable source of investment for projects in the U.S. As an entrepreneur, expansion should be part of your plan. Broadening your horizons to the U.S. is an expansion plan with promising returns. However, before you think of investing in the U.S., you should understand how the EB-5 immigrant investor program operates.
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What Are the Requirements For An EB-5 Visa?
To qualify for an EB-5 Visa, three conditions need to be satisfied:
- You must invest at least $1 million in a new business in the U.S. Alternatively; you could invest at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
- You must prove that your capital is derived from a lawful source. This means that you should show that your capital is not generated from illegal activities such as drug trafficking. This is in accordance with the Immigration’s Act section 203(b) (5).
- You must demonstrate how your investment has created or will create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. residents
To determine whether an EB-5 Visa is viable for you, there are three questions you need to ask yourself:
- Is your business located in the right area? The answer to this question will help you determine whether your minimum investment is $1 million or $500,000
- Can your business create enough jobs? Provided you have a realistic and efficient plan for creating job opportunities, you are good to go.
- Is your business plan viable? You need an EB-5 compliant business plan. While your business plan might work, it does not hurt to have an economic expert or overseas migration agents help you draft a business plan bearing in mind your objectives and in accordance with EB-5 requirements.
The Two Crucial Steps Towards Obtaining an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa
Two Year Conditional Permanent Residency
One of the conditions of the EB-5 visa is that you need to become a 2 year conditional U.S. resident to allow you to implement your investment project. You will only be allowed to become a U.S. resident after your I-526 petition is accepted by USCIS (U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services). There are two ways of attaining residency:
- If you already have legal status in the U.S., you need to file a form I-485 to change your status to that of a conditional permanent resident.
- If you do not have legal status in the U.S., you need to apply for an immigrant visa through submitting the DS-2330 form that is processed through the U.S. embassy in your home country.
These steps require the assistance of an EB-5 lawyer. The immigrant visa is usually issued within 6-12 months. During the 2 year conditional residency term, you are required to be physically present in the U.S., and are not allowed to stay outside the U.S. for over one year without getting a permit for re-entry.
Unconditional Permanent Residency- the I-829 Petition.
The last step in acquiring an EB-5 visa is for you to become an unconditional permanent resident through removing your 2 year conditional status. You need to submit the I-829 petition to prove that you have adhered to all the terms of the EB-5 visa program. You can expect USCIS to grant you a permanent green card 6-8 months after submitting the I-829 petition. This allows you, your spouse, and your unmarried children who are below 21 years to live and work permanently in the U.S. You and your family also have the option of becoming U.S. citizens five years after receiving the conditional residency.
Obtaining an EB-5 visa is an easy process if facilitated by an immigration attorney. Provided you have the required investment amount, an ideal location for your business, and a viable business plan, you are good to go. Gaining an EB-5 visa will not only enable you expand your business but it will open up numerous opportunities for you and your family in the U.S.