Free EB-5 Evaluation

Steps to Obtain an EB-5 Green Card

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program—which is overseen by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security– allows foreign investors and their families to gain permanent resident status through a qualifying capital investment.

The EB5 visa process is relatively complex, but broadly speaking, investors must complete four basic steps to obtain lawful permanent resident status for themselves and their families.

There is even an option to obtain U.S. citizenship after holding a permanent Green Card for a specified period.

The Benefits of Obtaining an EB-5 Green Card

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is considered one of the quickest ways for an entire family to gain permanent residency in the United States.

In exchange for a single qualifying passive investment, an investor, their spouse, and all unmarried children under the age of 21 can qualify for U.S. Green Cards, and eventually, U.S. citizenship.

Live, Work, and Study Anywhere

The EB-5 program does not require a visa sponsor, such as an employer or educational institution.

This means that a foreign investor and their family members can live, work, or study anywhere in the entire United States, without restriction. They can even leave or change their employer without losing their immigration status.

No Visa Lottery

The EB-5 program is not subject to a randomized lottery with hundreds of thousands of entrants, such as for the H-1B visa. Each investor’s petition, once submitted, will be carefully considered by USCIS.

Invest in Your Future

U.S. businesses can be very lucrative investments, creating long-term job growth and steady returns in one of the most stable economic markets in the world.

With very little political, military, or economic unrest, the United States is one of the safest places in the world for foreign nationals to invest their capital.

The Best Education in the World

Furthermore, children of EB-5 investors can attend U.S. public schools for free, receiving a world-class 12-year education from elementary through secondary school (or, “high school” as it is known in the United States).

The U.S. higher education system is consistently ranked among the greatest in the world. Foreign nationals with U.S. permanent residence status can apply as local students, vastly increasing their chances of admittance to top universities over other foreign students.

Many of the greatest colleges and universities are also state-sponsored, meaning children of EB-5 investors can qualify for local tuition rates normally reserved for U.S. citizens, as they will be classified as U.S. permanent residents.

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. Migration agents are often involved in matching potential EB-5 investors with compatible projects.

When searching for an EB-5 project, investors have two investment options:

Option 1: Direct EB-5 Investment

Direct EB-5 investments are for foreign investors who invest their EB-5 capital directly in a new commercial enterprise (NCE). Very few immigrant investors choose the direct investment route.

Direct investment projects are for investors who wish to take a more active management role in the NCE. This is because direct EB-5 projects can only accept one EB-5 investor per NCE.

Therefore, the EB-5 project is typically a smaller, and often riskier, project requiring a more “hands-on” investor.

Direct EB-5 investors can count only W-2 job positions toward their required minimum job creation of 10 full-time, permanent jobs for U.S. workers. And a new commercial entity usually does not count many new, permanent, full-time direct employees.

This limitation alone is typically enough reason for most immigrant investors to choose the second EB-5 investment option: a regional center investment.

Option 2: Regional Center EB-5 Investment

A regional center investment is where an immigrant investor pools their money with other immigrant investors, investing in a larger NCE through a USCIS-approved regional center.

When foreign nationals make a regional center EB-5 investment, it means that these investors buy equity stakes in an EB-5 regional center’s investment fund. That fund then either buys equity or loans capital to a qualifying job-creating entity, which uses the capital specifically to create jobs.

A recent study of USCIS data found that a staggering 94% of all successful EB-5 applicants were regional center investors. This is because the Regional Center Program comes with certain advantages over direct investment.

Regional center investors can count both direct and indirect jobs towards their required minimum of 10 full-time jobs. This means that a project’s construction expenditures can be used to calculate indirect employment through economic modeling.

This greater flexibility in meeting the job creation requirement, coupled with the pooled investment with other EB-5 investors, makes the regional center route by far the most attractive option for nearly all immigrant investors’ EB-5 investment.

After expiring in mid-2021, the EB-5 Regional Center Program was formally restarted by the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022. A regional center and the investor’s NCE will need to provide receipts and hard data, such as econometric modeling, to demonstrate indirect job creation to USCIS.

Job Creation & Other Requirements

To invest in EB-5 projects, foreign nationals must be considered accredited investors, unless certain exemptions apply.

The chosen EB-5 project must be a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or job-creating entity (JCE) that creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs (35 hours per week) for U.S. workers.

Job creation for U.S. workers and capital investment in underserved areas are the two main goals the U.S. government has for supporting the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. As such, a foreign investor must be able to demonstrate to USCIS how the infusion of their EB-5 capital in the U.S. business sustained or added those 10 full-time jobs.

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.

Foreign investors also must take a managerial role within the NCE. Often, regional center investors act as board members or trustees. Direct investors must play a more direct, “hands-on” role in the NCE.

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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 $1,050,000 is required unless the project is located within a targeted employment area (TEA), in which case the minimum investment is $800,000.

A targeted employment area is an area of high unemployment or a rural area within the United States, as designated by USCIS to promote economic growth through EB-5 incentivization.

EB5AN has an up-to-date national TEA map, demonstrating whether your prospective EB-5 project’s location qualifies for a lower minimum capital investment.

Typically, the invested capital is placed in escrow until the investor’s I-526 petition is approved.

Forms I-526 & I-526E

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by a Standalone Investor, is the immigrant petition for direct investors to prove to USCIS that their investment complies with the EB-5 program.

Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by a Regional Center Investor, is for regional center investors to prove to USCIS that their EB-5 investment qualifies them for conditional permanent resident status.

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.

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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.

Conditional permanent resident status means that an immigrant investor will be a full-time permanent U.S. resident for two years only, with no option to renew.

After two years’ time, the immigrant investor can apply to remove the “two-year” condition and receive full permanent resident status Green Card.

Investors Outside the United States

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.

Form DS-260 is an application for a visa to allow a foreign national to enter the United States.

Investors Already Inside the United States

Investors who are already lawfully residing in the United States must file Form I-485, for adjustment of status.

This form allows immigrant investors residing in the United States on a different visa, such as the H-1B, to change their visa immigration status to conditional permanent resident.

As of 2022, Form I-485 can now be filed concurrently with an investor’s I-526 or I-526E petition.

Concurrent filing is one of many welcome changes brought by the passage of the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 to ease EB-5 processing wait times.

Typically, either process—filing Form DS-260 or Form I-485—requires the assistance of an immigration attorney.

Maintaining Conditional Permanent Residency

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 live permanently 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.

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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.

Form I-829 is how immigrant investors demonstrate that their investment has actually complied with the EB-5 program, and that the 10 created full-time jobs have been sustained for the required minimum of two years.

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.

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Step 5: U.S. Citizenship (optional)

Five years after they receive 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. Form N-900 is how a conditional permanent resident or permanent resident can prove their eligibility for citizenship.

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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How Long is the EB-5 Visa Process?

The EB-5 visa process is one of the fastest and most reliable ways for an immigrant investor and their family to receive permanent resident status in the United States.

The EB-5 visa process takes several years to complete.

Processing times for I-526/I-526E petitions and I-826 petitions have been climbing in recent years, a trend only exacerbated by the pandemic.

As of January 2023, 80% of I-526 petitions were adjudicated in less than 4 years according to the USCIS website. Processing times for I-826 petitions are similar for FY 2023.

Some EB-5 petition filings take less time to adjudicate.

Learn How EB5AN Can Help You

The EB-5 visa process involves several complicated steps, each of which requires its own mountain of supporting documentation. It is crucial for immigrant investors to work with an EB-5 professional, in order to properly receive Green Cards for themselves and their families.

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.

Contact EB-5 Affiliate Network at today or schedule a free consultation.