U.S. Permanent Resident Status through the EB-5 Program
For foreign nationals participating in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, the goal is to gain permanent resident status in the United States. Conditional permanent resident status is granted to an EB-5 investor upon the approval of his or her I-526 petition by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This conditional status is valid for two years and allows the investor to be sufficiently engaged in the daily management of his or her investment.
Within the last 90 days of this conditional period, the EB-5 investor must file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. Upon approval of the I-829 petition, the investor and his or her spouse and dependent children will be granted permanent resident status. Five years after first receiving conditional permanent resident status, the investor and his or her family will be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.
Upon earning permanent resident status, an immigrant will receive a permanent resident card, also referred to as a green card. Permanent resident status entails certain rights and responsibilities, which are outlined below.
Rights of Permanent Residents
U.S. permanent resident status grants immigrants many rights and privileges. Green card holders may live and work anywhere in the United States, and they are fully protected under federal, state, and local law. Permanent residents are also free to travel abroad using a valid passport issued by their home country; however, to remain permanent residents, they must fulfill the physical presence requirement, which is discussed in the next section.
In addition to these rights, permanent residents enjoy numerous other benefits, including access to world-class higher education and excellent health care.
Responsibilities of Permanent Residents
Along with the rights and privileges mentioned above, permanent residents are expected to fulfill certain responsibilities:
Permanent residents are required to pay all applicable state and federal income taxes.
They must file income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), paying taxes on their gross worldwide income. Immigrants from countries with whom the United States has tax treaties may be able to obtain credit for the payment of their foreign taxes.
Like all male U.S. citizens from age 18 to 25, male green card holders must register with Selective Service. Registration for Selective Service does not, in itself, entail service in the U.S. military, but it does mean that any male permanent residents from age 18 to 25 will be subject to the draft should the U.S. government choose to conscript men into military service.
In addition to paying taxes and registering with Selective Service, permanent residents are expected to be of good moral character.
To maintain permanent resident status, an immigrant must fulfill the physical presence requirement, which generally entails physically residing within the United States for six months or more in any given year. If a permanent resident spends more than one year outside of the United States, he or she must obtain a re-entry permit or face losing permanent resident status.
If outside of the United States for two or more years after being issued a re-entry permit, a returning resident (SB-1) immigrant visa is necessary. While outside the United States, permanent residents are still required to file U.S. income tax returns, and failure to do so may jeopardize their status. Permanent resident status will be considered abandoned if a green card holder moves to another country and no longer intends to reside in the United States.
Permanent Resident Status vs. Citizenship
Permanent resident status is not the same as U.S. citizenship. While permanent residents can live and work in the United States, they remain citizens of their home nation. As such, permanent residents cannot obtain U.S. passports, cannot vote in U.S. elections, and are not allowed to run for U.S. elected office.
U.S. citizens may be able to more easily bring into the United States family members who are foreign nationals. Citizens also have more access to federal jobs as well as federal assistance and benefits—including Social Security and Medicare.
To become a citizen of the United States, a permanent resident must file for citizenship through USCIS. EB-5 investors may apply for citizenship after maintaining their permanent resident status for five years. This five-year period starts when an EB-5 investor is granted conditional permanent resident status.