FAQS FOR INVESTORS.
What is the EB-5 Program?
The EB-5 Investment Visa Program allows developers of job-creating enterprises in the United States to raise capital from foreign investors and offer the investor, in return, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status in the United States for himself / herself, a spouse and unmarried children under age 21.
What are the Key Requirements for Foreign Investors?
The foreign national must invest a minimum of either USD$1,000,000 or USD$500,000 in a commercial enterprise. The minimum investment of USD$500,000 is reserved for investments that are located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which refers to areas that have experienced high unemployment, as well as certain rural areas.
The investment funds must be at risk.
The investment results in the creation or preservation of ten (10) full-time (at least 35 hours per week) jobs for U.S. workers.
Traditional EB-5 investments require that the investor demonstrate that the required 10 full-time jobs were created directly by the commercial enterprise in which the investment was made.
In contrast, EB-5 investments made through a Regional Center receive credit for jobs created both directly and indirectly, which benefits the applicant by reducing the risk associated with job creation.
What is a Regional Center?
A Regional Center is a company, public or private, approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to facilitate the pooling of capital by multiple EB-5 investors. Each Regional Center focuses on a specific geographic area within the U.S., and seeks to promote economic growth and creation of new jobs in that area. Importantly, making an investment via a Regional Center provides EB-5 investors with two key benefits:
- The ability to invest alongside other EB-5 investors in a pooled vehicle, such as a limited partnership, sponsored by the Regional Center
- The ability to receive credit for both direct and indirect jobs created as a result of the EB-5 investor’s investment.
How many EB-5 visas are available?
Current U.S. law allocates 10,000 EB-5 visas per year for foreign nationals and their immediate family members (spouses and unmarried children under 21). Because family members are counted against the quota, there are only about 4000 visas for principal investors.
Do I have to be involved in the day-to-day management of my investment?
No. The EB-5 regulations require the investor to be involved in management or policy-making in the enterprise. A limited partner in a limited partnership that is properly structured and conforms to the Uniform Limited Partnership Act is sufficiently engaged in the EB-5 enterprise to meet this requirement.
What are the risks?
EB-5 regulations require that all invested capital be “at risk” of loss. Therefore, no investment can be guaranteed – that is, without risk – if it is to qualify as an EB-5 investment. “At risk” generally means subject to normal business and financial risk. Other risks include the enterprise’s failure to meet the direct or indirect job creation requirement.
How long will it take to receive a permanent “green card”?
The EB-5 investment process involves multiple steps, and processing times for each step can vary. Overall, the entire process from the initial application to unconditional legal permanent resident (“green card”) status, usually takes 27 to 36 months
Can I buy real estate worth $1 million to qualify for the EB-5 visa?
An immigrant investor cannot simply buy real estate or make other passive investments in the United States and qualify for an EB-5 visa. The investment must be in a commercial, job-creating enterprise as opposed to a personal residence or other passive investment. The enterprise must create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers (unrelated to the investor). In the direct investment context, the jobs must be identifiable positions filled be qualified U.S. workers and documented with tax returns and W2s. In the regional center context, direct, indirect and induced jobs will be projected by an EB5 economic impact report.
How do I qualify?
Foreign born individuals who have a net worth of at least US$1,000,000, or who expect annual income this year and had income over the past two years of at least US$200,000 may apply.
Can my family members be included?
Yes, your spouse and your children, who under the age of 21 at the time of your EB-5 application are also eligible to receive their own EB-5 U.S. residency visas.
Do I need a U.S. immigration lawyer to process my EB-5 petition?
Yes. You will need a qualified immigration attorney familiar with the EB-5 Visa (I-526 petition) process to assist with the petition, consular interview (if you are living abroad) and visa processing.
Do I get my money back if my I-526 petition is rejected by USCIS?
Most regional center project developers will refund the initial investment amount if for any reason your Application (I-526 visa petition) is denied by USCIS, the Escrow Agent will return the investment funds to you. This is, most likely, not the case in a direct investment project.
Do I have to stay in the U.S. once I receive my EB-5 visa?
Once you obtain lawful permanent resident status, you should reside in the United States. You and your family will be able to travel freely outside of the United States for visits or business purposes, as long as a residence is maintained in the United States. Evidence of intent to reside includes opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver’s license or social security number, paying state and federal income taxes, renting or buying a home.
If you leave the United States and are absent for a period of more than 6 months, you will be presumed to have abandoned your permanent resident status. If you are absent for a period of more than 1 year, you automatically abandon your permanent resident status.
What if I need to Continue Working Overseas?
The United States resident may work overseas, if required, based upon the nature of the business or profession. If you intend to work outside the U.S. for more than 6 months, we recommend you file for a re-entry permit which will facilitate your return to the U.S.
I am not currently living in the U.S., what should I do when I receive my Green Card?
You will apply for your Green Card at the US embassy or consulate in your home country. You must enter the U.S. within 180 days of visa issuance. The investor must then establish residency in the United States (see previous question).
How long does it take?
Once you decide to invest, you should receive your Conditional Green Card in about 12-18. This Conditional Green Card has an expiration of 2 years. Investors can submit to have the conditions removed (I-829 petition) as early as three months prior to the expiration date.
Once the I-829 petition is filed with USCIS, your conditional permanent residency is extended for one year while you wait for the permanent Green Card approval (which has no expiration).
What financial documents are required with the I-526 Petition?
Lawful Source of Funds
The investor must prove that the funds come from a lawful source such as:
Profit or earnings from a business
Proceeds from the sale of real estate
Earnings from stock or other investments
Gifts (financial information regarding the person giving the gift must be provided)
Lawful Path of Funds.
The investor must provide evidence that the capital investment of $500,000 plus applicable fees has been placed in an escrow account prior to filing the application.
Evidence can include bank statements, documents showing ownership in real estate or a company, accompanied by an appraisal of value and registration of ownership, a gift statement, a loan statement etc.
What personal documents are required?
Copies of passport for each member of the family must be provided
Passports must be valid for travel to the United States and must have at least 6 months validity beyond the issuance date of the visa. Household members can include husband, wide, and all unmarried children under the age of 21.
Employment and Business Documents
Information is required regarding:
Investor’s education, (diplomas)
Employment history, (résumés)
Business experience including any business registrations
Certificates must be provided for all individuals applying for a green card under the investor’s application, including spouse and children under the age of 21 at the time of application:
Certified copies of birth certificates
Other children under the age of 21 (unmarried), even if they do not wish to emigrate
Certified copy of Marriage certificate
Proof of termination of any previous marriage(s)
Divorce or annulment decree (e.g., death certificate of spouse, final decree of divorce or annulment)
Each visa applicant 16 years or older:
Police certificate from the police of each locality of the country of the applicant’s nationality or current residence or where the applicant has resided for at least 6 months since turning 16.
Police certificates are also required from all other countries where the applicant has been arrested for any reason, and must be of recent date when presented.
Police certificates must cover the entire period of the applicant’s residence in any area.
Persons who have been convicted of a crime must obtain a certified copy of each court record and of any prison record, regardless of subsequent benefit from an amnesty, pardon or other act of clemency.
A certified copy of any military record should be submitted.
Two color photographs in passport style are required. No head covering or dark glasses should be worn.