EB-5 Investor Program
The EB-5 is available for immigrant investors to become permanent citizens (Green Card holders) of the US. Eligibility requirements include that the visa applicant must invest a minimum of $500,000 to finance a US business to be considered for an EB-5.
The rules around the criteria for the EB-5 are changing in November 2019 to increase that minimum investment amount to $900,000. The other requirement is that the US business that they are investing in must employ at least 10 employees.
Another factor in the eligibility is whether the investment is going to a targeted employment area, or in other words, whether it will help an area that is currently affected by low employment rates.
If the investment is for a business that does not come under a targeted employment area then the minimum investment amounts are $1m (prior to November 21 2019) and $1.8m after the new rule comes into place regarding EB-5 criteria.
How to apply for EB-5
To start the process off, there must be a suitable business project to invest in, so this will generally require setting up a new commercial enterprise. Investors can seek the help of Overseas Migration Agents to support the process of finding a business project that suits them the most.
Once the project for investment has been identified the applicant must file an I-526 petition and make the required investment. The 13-page I-526 petition (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) will usually take a long time for the USCIS to review and provide a decision on whether it is approved. Typically, the applicant will find out a year after the petition has been filed. The filing fee for the I-526 currently stands at $3,675 and can be paid by credit card or check.
If the petition is approved by the USCIS then the applicant will be granted a two-year conditional residency of the US whilst they are able to conduct all of the duties related to their business project. There are two different ways that they will then acquire permanent residency:
- Where lawful status is already in place, the investor files a form I-485 to change their status to conditional permanent resident.
- Where the investor does not already have lawful status in the US, they file a DS-230 (immigrant visa) that must be processed via the US Embassy in their home country.
The final part of obtaining permanent residency is to remove the conditions by submitting an I-829 petition, which if approved will give them unconditional resident status in the US.
Dependents of EB-5 investors
The investor and their family (their spouse and children aged under 21) are able to live and work in the US, with the option to apply to become US citizens five years after conditional residency was approved.