What is the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?
The U.S. Congress introduced the EB-5 immigrant visa in 1990, which is run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The reason for its introduction was to stimulate economic growth through foreign investment.
The program allows foreign nationals to obtain a green card by making direct investments in a new or existing qualifying business. The minimum investment funds amount is $1,050,000, or $800,000 if you invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). The business must also create 10 full-time jobs.
Compared to other paths to permanent residency, the EB5 Visa has one of the fastest processing times. The program is also one of the most straightforward and efficient ways to become a U.S. resident.
How does the EB-5 Investor Visa work?
There are two essential points that foreign investors need to know about the EB-5 project.
However, for a detailed breakdown of the requirements and how the visa works, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Capital Investment Requirements
The program offers two investment options depending on where you choose to invest.
The minimum EB-5 capital investment amount is $1.05million in a qualified commercial enterprise. A minimum of $800,000 is required for investments in TEAs, otherwise known as Targeted Employment Areas.
You must also show that your investment capital was obtained legally. For this, documents showing a lawful source of funds are required.
As part of the employment creation criteria, investors must create full-time employment for at least 10 people.
If the enterprise is not located within a regional center, you must create full-time positions directly. The enterprise can either directly or indirectly create full-time jobs if they are within a regional centre.
Why is the USA a popular immigration choice?
The United States boasts the world’s largest economy and welcomes millions of migrants every year.
The country has long been viewed as the land of opportunity and is one of the best places for businesses to thrive. This is an important factor, considering EB5 Visas require direct investments in companies.
In their latest Doing Business report, the World Bank ranked the United States as the 6th best to do business globally. A separate report by the Harvard Business Review found the U.S. to be the best country for digital companies.
About the USA
The American EB-5 visa allows you to become a permananent resident of the United States of America. Here are some facts about the ‘Land of the Free’, often touted as one of the best places for tech and startup companies.
The United States has a population of over 335 million people across 9.834 million km². The US has an average life expectancy of 78 years.
The United States Dollar is the official currency in the USA. It is the most traded and largest currency in the world.
The capital city of the United States is Washington, D.C. The current population in Washington, D.C. is around 5.4 million.
English is the most common language in the USA spoken by 78.2% of the population, followed by Spanish spoken by 13.4% of the population.
The USA is a very large land mass, and therefore the climate can vary dramatically depending on your location.
As of 2021, the GDP of the USA is $23 trillion. Whilst shaken from the COVID-19 pandemic, the American economy has a history of resilience and is one of the largest economies in the world.
What are the benefits of the US EB-5 investor visa?
The EB-5 investor visa program offers a range of benefits. Below are some of the key benefits.
Live and work anywhere in the United States
You can live and work anywhere in the United States with resident status. This allows you to work in states that do not have a state income tax, such as Texas, Florida and Wyoming.
Your family also benefits
The principal investor can add family members to their application, such as their spouse and children under 21. Those family members also become residents and can take advantage of the same benefits.
Return on your investment
While the primary purpose of an EB-5 investment is to secure residency, it can also lead to profits. This is not a benefit offered by all residency by investment programs.
Access to world-class education
Residents have access to the United States public school system. Not only that, but they also benefit from lower University fees at world-class institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Cal Tech.
Path to citizenship
You are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of permanent residency. Doing so will grant you a U.S. passport which allows visa-free travel to over 180 countries.
International students & other visas immediately adjust
The EB-5 visa allows international students and other temporary visas to immediately adjust visa status upon submission of the EB5 petition. This allows students and other visa holders to remain in the US, travel in and out of the US, and even work until the EB5 visa is approved.
What are Regional Centers?
EB-5 regional centers are economic units approved by the USCIS that uphold the goals of the EB-5 program of promoting U.S. economic growth. A regional center also aims to increase regional productivity. Another role of these regional centers is to help connect investors with project developers in need of EB-5 funding.
A regional center investment is different to making a direct investment. One of the main differences between the two is the investor’s level of control.
Investing through a regional center typically means you have less involvement in the day-to-day running of the business. However, there is more flexibility in fulfilling the job creation aspect of the EB-5 Visa.
With a direct investment, the business must directly create 10 full-time jobs. Meanwhile, regional center investments can satisfy the requirements by creating 10 full-time positions directly and indirectly.
The USCIS has a complete list of the EB-5 regional center programs currently approved.
What is the application process for the US EB-5 Investor visa?
As long as you meet all of the eligibility criteria, you can start your EB-5 application to become a green card holder. Below is a general overview of the EB-5 visa process.
Step 1: Select a qualifying investment
The first step is to find a qualifying EB-5 project in which to invest.
There are two factors to consider at this stage; does the project meet the EB-5 program requirements for a green card, and will I see a return of capital?
EB-5 applicants must invest a certain amount for it to qualify. The minimum EB-5 investment amount is $1,050,000 or $800,000 if it’s in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
The next thing to consider is the job creation requirements. Your investment must create 10 full-time U.S. jobs to qualify under the EB-5 Investor Visa program.
You also need to consider your rate of return. This means not only having your investment capital returned in full but also seeing a return on your investment.
There is a lot to think about at this stage, so seeking financial advice from an EB-5 expert is recommended. They will be in a position to help you find and secure a suitable investment based on your needs.
Step 2: Submit your EB-5 petition
Once you have selected your investment, the next step is to submit your EB-5 petition (otherwise known as an I-526 petition) to the USCIS.
Your immigration attorney is responsible for filing the I-526 petition. The petition proves that you are invested in the process and that the investment meets the program requirements.
Step 3: Recieve 2-year conditional residency
The USCIS will review the I-526 petition. Once approved, you can apply for conditional permanent residency in one of two ways:
- If you live in the U.S. – you need to complete an I-485 form for an adjustment of status
- If you don’t live in the U.S., you must submit a DS-260 form to either a U.S. consulate or a U.S. embassy.
At this stage, you will be granted your conditional resident card, valid for two years.
Step 4: Become a permanent resident
This is the last stage of the EB-5 process. After two years, the conditions of your resident status can be removed and made permanent. For this to happen, you must file an I-829 petition.
How long does it take to process an EB-5 visa?
How long the process takes differs from case to case. It takes twelve months on average for the initial applications and Form I-526 petitions to receive approval. The total processing time for the visa takes around twelve to twenty-four months.
While this may sound like a lengthy process, the EB-5 visa is still one of the quickest routes to residency compared to other options.
Are there other options for getting U.S. residency?
The EB-5 program is the only investment visa that leads to U.S. residency. Other visa types grant residency but are either harder to obtain or more complex.
For example, there are H1B visas for temporary workers. EB-1, 2, 3 and 4 visas are available for permanent workers. The criteria for each are different, but generally, they are aimed at those who work in certain professions or have exceptional talents.
All of these options also require a sponsor. The EB-5, however, does not; another advantage it has over other American citizenship options.
Holborn are in a unique position to help you apply for the EB-5 visa
Holborn Pass offers global migration solutions to an international client base.
We have the required knowledge and licence to assist clients in securing an EB-5 visa. This put us in a unique position within the market, as very few firms have the expertise and licencing to offer the EB-5 program to clients.
Contact one of our experts to find out how we can help you secure your EB-5 visa today.
USA EB-5 Visa Program Frequently Asked Questions
Do EB-5 investors get their initial investment back?
In short, yes. As long as a good exit strategy is in place, investors should get the full amount back along with any interest accrued within 5-7 years. Remember, the investment remains ‘at risk’ throughout this period of time, so returns are not guaranteed.
How many EB-5 visas get issued each year?
From 2014 – 2019, the U.S. issued around 10,000 green cards through the EB-5 program on average. Numbers fell due to the pandemic, but activity in the market is starting to increase again.
Is the EB-5 program a green card?
Yes. Foreign nationals are granted a green card and become permanent residents if the EB-5 Visa conditions are met.
Can I take out a loan for the EB-5 visa program?
Investment funds raised via a loan are allowed. However, loans used to raise EB-5 capital must meet strict requirements. Seeking expert advice on this is recommended.
How much does the EB-5 visa cost?
Foreign investors must invest a minimum of $1.05million or $800,000 if they invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
Does the USA have a golden visa?
The EB5 Visa is the U.S. equivalent of a Golden Visa.
Can I live anywhere in the U.S. with an EB5 visa?
With the EB-5 Visa, you are free to live in any U.S. state.
Are my family members included on the EB-5 visa?
You can add your spouse and any children under the age of 21. Those added also become permanent residents by law.
Will the EB-5 program change in the future?
Changes to the program can happen. For example, the minimum investment amounts may change as they have done in the past. The most recent change saw President Biden sign a law affecting the authority for EB-5 regional centers programs.