What is the EB-5 Visa?

Known as the land of opportunity, the United States is one of the most sought-after locations for immigrant investors.

The country offers economic stability, diverse opportunities and a high standard of living.

The EB-5 Visa Program offers one of the most efficient pathways to securing a Green Card (residency) through investment. As a Green Card holder, you have the right to live, work and study anywhere in the U.S.

This guide provides a detailed overview of the EB-5 Visa. We will look at what the program offers for foreign investors, EB-5 investment requirements and the application process.

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What is the EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 visa is an immigrant investor visa program in the United States.

It provides a pathway for foreign nationals and their families to obtain permanent residency status by making a qualifying capital investment. This means successful applicants are granted a Green Card.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. It aims to stimulate economic growth through employment creation and foreign investment.

The program has been a success, bringing billions of dollars to the economy. Data shows that between 2008 and 2015, the EB-5 Visa Program helped to generate $20.6 billion through foreign direct investment.

The U.S. issues a maximum of 10,000 EB-5 Visas each year, and the program is currently run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What are the benefits of the EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 Visa offers several benefits to foreign investors seeking permanent residency in the United States. Some of these include:

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Route to citizenship

The EB-5 Visa provides one of the fastest routes to US residency. However, once EB-5 investors have been permanent residents for five years, they can apply for U.S. citizenship.

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Inclusion of family

The EB-5 Visa allows the investor to include their spouse and unmarried children under 21 in the application. This provides a path for the entire family to obtain permanent residency.

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Economic stability

The U.S. has one of the most stable economies globally. Data shows that the U.S. has a GDP of $25.4 trillion, making it the world’s largest economy.

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No sponsorship requirement

Unlike many other immigrant visas, the EB-5 Visa does not require sponsorship from an employer, family member or other entity. Investors can apply independently.

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Live and work anywhere in the United States

EB-5 investors can live and work anywhere in the United States. It also allows them to pursue various business ventures, giving them access to the North American market.

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Access to a world-class education system

The U.S. is home to some of the world’s leading educational institutions. According to the Times Higher Education rankings, seven of the top ten universities in the world are based in the U.S. While the costs can be high for international students, children of EB-5 investors can access lower tuition rates.

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Potential investment returns

An EB-5 investment can return a profit. The amount will depend on several factors, such as the type of EB-5 investment project selected. Be aware that, like all investments, returns are not guaranteed.

The period of time an investment needs to be held depends on when Form I-526 was filed. On March 15, 2022, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act was enacted, which changed several laws. This included the length of time that the investment must be maintained.

Anyone who files an I-526 petition must maintain their investment for only two years. This two-year period starts when the EB-5 investment is made.

Eligibility for the EB-5 Program

Unlike the EB-3 Visa, the EB-5 Investor Visa Program does not require a job offer. For the EB-5 Visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

Funds must be from a lawful source

The source of funds used to invest in a project must be lawfully obtained. The investor must provide evidence of the lawful source of the investment funds, demonstrating that they were obtained through legitimate means.

At-risk investment

The investment amount must be considered ‘capital at-risk’. This means the investor cannot receive any rate of return guarantees or contractual rights for repayment.

What are the EB-5 investment requirements?

The EB-5 Program offers two options for investors. They can either make a direct investment or go through a regional center.

A direct investment can include:

  • Starting a business
  • Purchasing investing in existing businesses

Meanwhile, EB-5 regional center programs are federally approved investor pools. They pool investment funds from multiple regional center investors to fund EB-5 projects.

EB-5 regional center programs connect investors with developers requiring funding for their businesses. These projects usually include large-scale real estate developers and hotel chains like the Hilton.

The regional center route is by far the most popular option. This is because investors do not have the hassle of managing the business’s day-to-day activities. There is also more flexibility for job creation.

Visit the USCIS dedicated page for a complete list of all the approved regional centers.

Regardless of the route taken by investors, the goal of the EB-5 Investor Visa remains the same; to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment.

As such, the investment criteria for the EB-5 program are broken down into two parts, as explained below:

Investment amount

A minimum capital investment of $1,050,000. This amount is reduced to $800,000 if the investment project is in a targeted employment area (TEA).

TEAs are typically rural projects in areas with an average unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average.

The 10-job creation requirement

The investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

EB-5 Visa Processing Time

The EB-5 process starts by filling out the required forms and hiring an immigration lawyer to prepare your source of funds document.

They will then file form I-526E. For those currently living in the USA, adjustment of status is requested by filing form I-485.

With the I-526E petition approved, conditional residency is granted for a period of two years.

After two years, applicants can file for I-829. This removes the conditions to grant permanent resident status. Green Card holders can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of legal residence.

Below is an overview of the EB-5 Visa Program process.

  • Select an EB-5 project
    - Direct investment
    - Regional center
  • Invest required amount
    - $1,050,000 OR;
    - $800,000 in a TEA
  • File EB-5 petition form
    - form I-526 OR;
    - Form I-526E
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The EB-5 process can take anywhere from six months to one year. However, you should know that EB-5 processing times can vary depending on several factors.

Secure your EB-5 Visa with Holborn Assets

The EB-5 Visa Program is a highly successful and sought-after residency by investment (RBI) scheme. It allows foreign nationals to secure a Green Card, granting them and their families the chance to live, work and study anywhere in the U.S.

If you want to learn more about the EB-5 Visa or to ask any questions, we can help.

Holborn Pass is an international leader in investor visas. Our expert team provides a bespoke, end-to-end service and tailored advice to support your needs.

We are part of the wider Holborn Assets Group, a leading, award-winning financial advisory company with over $2 billion in assets under management (AUM).

We have successfully helped hundreds of individuals and families secure golden visas. To find out how we can help you, book a consultation with one of our advisers.

Frequently asked questions

The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant investor program that provides a pathway to permanent residency (Green Card) in the United States for foreign investors who make a significant investment in a new commercial enterprise that creates jobs for U.S. workers.

To qualify for an EB-5 Visa, investors typically must invest at least $1,050,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. However, for investments made in a targeted employment area (TEA), which is an area with high unemployment or rural areas, the minimum investment amount is reduced to $800,000.

In addition to the minimum investment requirement, EB-5 Visa applicants must demonstrate that their investment will create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.

A Regional Center is a designation granted by USCIS to certain organisations that sponsor EB-5 projects. These centers pool investments from multiple EB-5 investors into specific projects, typically in real estate development, infrastructure, or hospitality industries. Investing through a Regional Center can provide certain advantages, such as indirect job creation, which counts towards the job creation requirement.

The time it takes to obtain permanent residency through the EB-5 Visa program can vary depending on various factors, such as processing times, the completeness of the application, and individual circumstances. Generally, the process involves two main stages:

  • Obtaining a Conditional Permanent Residency (valid for two years)
  • Applying to remove the conditions to obtain permanent residency. The entire process can take several years

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