Are you aware that if you are an immigrant already living in the United States, you may be able to obtain your green card by making an EB-5 investment? Each year, numerous immigrants invest in the EB-5 program domestically, receiving U.S. permanent resident status for themselves and their immediate family members upon successful completion.
So, what is the EB-5 program? Learn about what this program is, who may qualify to participate, and what an I-485 petition approval could mean for your immigration status.
What Is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?
Foreign nationals with the means to invest foreign capital proven to be lawfully obtained in an approved EB-5 project have an opportunity to secure green cards both for themselves and their eligible family members through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This program is a pathway toward U.S. permanent resident status that has been available to foreign investors since the 1990s. It was proposed as a solution to a downturned U.S. economy and functions as a path to green cards (and citizenship, if desired) in return for an infusion of foreign capital into program-approved projects across the country.
Minimum EB-5 Investment Requirements
The minimum requirements to gain U.S. permanent resident status through the EB-5 program are as follows:
- A $1,800,000* investment in a program-approved new commercial enterprise (NCE).
- The creation of 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
- Capital proven to have derived from lawful sources that remains “at risk” throughout the investment period.
*If an investment is made in a designated TEA (targeted employment area), then the minimum investment required is reduced by half ($900,000).
Essentially, there are seven basic steps in the EB-5 investment process. Find a brief overview of how the EB-5 investment process works through a firm like EB-5 Affiliate Network in the next section.
Seven Steps in the EB-5 Investment Process with EB5AN
EB-5 investors are not required to consult an attorney or firm that specializes in EB-5 investment processing. That said, many foreign investors understand the value in having access to experienced professionals for questions and concerns. Additionally, working with a specialized EB-5 investment team is a way to ensure a program participant’s EB-5 investment is handled appropriately throughout the process. Here is how the investment process works through EB5AN:
- Initiate the EB-5 investment process.
- Prepare the supporting documentation for your capital investment.
- Finalize your EB-5 investment partnership.
- Make the appropriate capital funds transfer.
- Petition for your conditional green card status.
- Conduct the necessary government interviews and/or request an adjustment of status.
- Complete your program terms, petition for the removal of your temporary status, and recuperate your EB-5 investment (plus any gains your investment may have realized).
Most investors can have their immigration status adjusted within just a few years. However, that isn’t to say the process can’t become complex.
When the EB-5 Program Can Become Complex
While the EB-5 program provides one of the quickest routes to a U.S. green card, every segment of the journey has its own set of rules, which can be fairly complex. For instance, processing delays are common. However, most investment terms are not so flexible. And when an investment period extends beyond the funding terms, an option to redeploy EB-5 capital to maintain the required at-risk status may seem like the best choice. For these reasons, it is always advisable to partner with an experienced EB-5 attorney to ensure your journey is as smooth as possible.
Near the end of their EB-5 journey, investors who successfully meet all of the EB-5 investment requirements may seek to update their immigration status through United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) Form I-485. Learn more about this specific form below.
Where Does Form I-485 Fit Into the EB-5 Program?
Form I-485 is the application EB-5 participants who already reside in the United States must submit to USCIS to gain conditional permanent resident status. The filing of an I-485 petition happens once an EB-5 applicant’s I-526 petition has been approved. The form covers biographical information that USCIS uses to determine whether an immigrant is eligible for permanent residency. This form and any supporting documentation are usually filed by an EB-5 attorney on behalf of the immigrant investor.
Form I-485 Petition Questions and Supporting Documents
The information requested can include but is not limited to:
- Form G-325A, which details biographical information
- Fingerprints, a photograph, an official signature, and other biometrics
- Passport copies
- Documentation regarding how U.S. status has been maintained
- Criminal background information
- Form I-797C, which reflects approval of Form I-526
- Birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and other familial documents
- Pertinent medical records
Filing Fees for Form I-485
USCIS application fees were slated to change on October 2, 2020, and although a judge has imposed a temporary delay on the fee changes as of October 8, 2020, EB-5 participants may see an application fee reduction of $10 by the time they file. Currently, the fee for I-485 petitions is set at $1,140. Additionally, investors must include a payment to perform any biometric tasks like fingerprinting. Applicants over the age of 78, however, may have the biometric fee waived. Your I-486 packet will be mailed to a USCIS lockbox facility located in either Arizona or Texas, depending on your current address.
Form I-485 Estimated Processing Times
An adjustment to your U.S. resident status is a huge step. And that’s not just a metaphor. It’s not uncommon for EB-5 participants to wait years to secure their green cards. Factors such as the current caseload at a local USCIS office and whether all filings and documentation are correct and complete can cause Form I-485 processing times to vary widely among applicants.
Generally speaking, though, once USCIS has deemed an applicant eligible, the wait time to adjust your status to a conditional U.S. permanent resident is between 8 and 12 months. Then, two years later, you must file an I-829 petition to have those conditions removed and become a U.S. permanent resident.
Written on behalf of Sam Silverman of EB5AN: Sam has extensive real estate development, management, financing, and brokerage experience in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, and internationally in the People’s Republic of China. Prior to EB5AN, Sam served as the director of corporate strategy and expansion for professional golfer Jack Nicklaus in the People’s Republic of China, living full time in Beijing. Sam was also previously employed by the Boston Consulting Group, one of the top management consulting and business strategy firms in the world, where he worked directly with Fortune 500 companies in the food service, media, manufacturing, hospitality, and real estate spaces in the U.S., Europe, and Middle East. Sam is also a Forbes 30 Under 30 National Winner for Social Entrepreneurship. Sam holds a B.A. Economics with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese from Yale University, a Certificate in Financial Accounting from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.