The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, which is overseen by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), allows foreign investors and their families to gain permanent resident status through qualifying investments. The process is relatively complex, but broadly speaking, investors must complete four basic steps to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
Step 1: Finding the Right EB-5 Project
The first step in obtaining U.S. residency through the EB-5 program is to find the right project to invest in. Investors have two investment options: They can either invest directly into a new commercial enterprise project or through a USCIS-approved regional center. Because direct investments require the direct creation of 10 full-time jobs, many investors opt to invest in projects sponsored through regional centers, which can also count indirect and induced jobs toward the job creation requirement. Migration agents are often involved in matching potential EB-5 investors with compatible projects. To invest in EB-5 projects, foreign nationals must be considered accredited investors, unless certain exemptions apply.
Step 2: Investing the Necessary Capital and Filing an I-526 Petition
Once the investor has selected a project, he or she must invest the amount of capital required by the EB-5 program. A minimum investment of $1,800,000 is required unless the project is located within a targeted employment area (TEA), in which case the minimum investment is $900,000. Typically, the invested capital is placed in escrow until the investor’s I-526 petition is approved. The I-526 petition is filed with USCIS and must demonstrate that the proper amount of capital was invested in a project that is expected to generate the required 10 jobs per EB-5 investor, with the investment remaining at risk throughout the investment period.
Step 3: Obtaining Conditional Permanent Resident Status
After an applicant’s I-526 petition is approved, he or she can apply for conditional permanent resident status. Investors who do not yet have an immigrant visa must submit Form DS-260 to the National Visa Center and be processed through their home country’s U.S. consulate or embassy. Investors who are already lawfully residing in the United States must file Form I-485, which will change their status to conditional permanent resident. Typically, either process requires the assistance of an immigration attorney.
Conditional permanent resident status is effective for two years, during which time the investor must physically reside in the United States. The investor may travel abroad without jeopardizing his or her status, but certain limitations apply.
If USCIS believes a permanent resident does not intend to permanently live in the United States, it might determine that the resident has abandoned his or her permanent resident status. For example, during the two-year period, the green card holder’s primary residence must be in the United States, and the person must spend more than six months a year in the United States. Other behaviors may also influence the views of USCIS, so it is crucial to understand the implications of spending time abroad during the conditional permanent resident phase.
Step 4: Filing an I-829 Petition and Removing Conditions from Resident Status
Conditional permanent resident status expires after two years and cannot be renewed. To maintain permanent resident status, the investor must file an I-829 petition. This petition must be filed within the last 90 days of the conditional residence period and must demonstrate that the investor has fulfilled the requirements of the EB-5 green card program. Once the investor’s I-829 petition is approved, the investor, his or her spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 gain lawful permanent resident status.
Step 5: U.S. Citizenship (optional)
Five years after they received their initial conditional permanent resident status, the investor and his or her family have the option to become U.S. citizens. Applying for citizenship involves submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to USCIS. Once the form has been processed, applicants will be invited for an interview, after which they must pass a U.S. civics and English language test. The last step in the process is attending a citizenship ceremony on a specified date and taking the Oath of Allegiance.
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The EB5AN team of experts can help you navigate the EB-5 visa process, from identifying and choosing the perfect regional center project to preparing and filing USCIS petitions. Simply complete the evaluation form to learn how you can benefit from the EB-5 program.