Although the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program came into existence in 1990, it took the residency-by-investment program around 20 years to gain traction and witness a large number of investors pursuing a U.S. green card through an investment. In fact, for many years, the program issued far fewer than the annual 10,000 visas it was allocated. That changed in the 2010s, when EB-5 demand skyrocketed, particularly in China. In 2021, China is still a major EB-5 market, but the landscape has diversified, with the EB-5 program attracting investors from more and more nations.
Why has the EB-5 program exploded in popularity? The increasing demand for an EB-5 investment is attributable to a number of reasons. Here are four key factors.
1. A Quick and Simple Pathway to U.S. Permanent Residency
U.S. immigration is almost never quick or easy. That said, an EB5 investment offers a quicker, easier way to obtain a green card than most paths available to investors. Even though United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has processed EB-5 applications notoriously slowly since 2019, indications are positive that new legislation and new leadership may soon restore processing times to their originally intended lengths, taking processing from a matter of years to months. For example, the proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, if passed, would enact measures toward clearing up the long backlogs in the EB-5 program and other USCIS programs.
As of July 2021, those making EB-5 investments from China face backlogs, but investors from other countries do not. Thus, depending on USCIS processing productivity, most EB-5 investors could see their I-526 petition approved in just months. Following I-526 approval, EB-5 investors may schedule a visa interview at their local U.S. embassy or consulate, if they are living abroad, or submit Form I-485 to adjust their immigration status, if they are already in the United States on a different visa.
2. Green Cards for the Whole Family
The EB-5 program is a family-friendly program—principal investors are allowed to include their spouse and unmarried children younger than 21 on their EB-5 application. Assuming the EB-5 investment is successful, the entire family is eligible for EB-5 visas, meaning family members obtain access to a permanent life in the United States at the same time as the investor, avoiding delays that might be associated with other programs. There is no limit to the number of children an investor can add, as long as they are all unmarried and younger than 21.
3. A Bright Future for Your Kids
In many cases, foreign nationals engage in EB-5 investments not necessarily to secure benefits for themselves but to provide a better future for their children. School-aged children who hold green cards can be enrolled in U.S. public schools, which provide a high-quality, holistic education that doubles as linguistic and cultural immersion for immigrants. College-aged green card holders enjoy a much less competitive admissions process to U.S. post-secondary education institutes, as they are considered alongside U.S. citizens, not international students, and they may be eligible for in-state tuition savings, depending on their school.
Education is not the only benefit—foreign nationals who make an EB5 investment are also securing a better health care landscape for their family, as well as economic and political stability. U.S. medical facilities are the most technologically advanced in the world, sometimes offering treatments not available elsewhere, and Americans enjoy a high quality of life with strong economic and political institutions. In this way, EB-5 investors can protect their children from potentially volatile situations in their home country, providing an environment for them to thrive.
4. Access to the World’s Largest Economy
The United States dominates the global economy, commanding the largest economy in the world. Though the devastating COVID-19 pandemic has set the entire world back, the U.S. economy is recovering steadily and is forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels by summer 2021. The United States’ economic growth following the destruction of COVID-19 has been phenomenal, indicative of a strong, resourceful economy that can shoulder major challenges like the worldwide shutdowns enacted in response to the pandemic. A green card lets a foreign national freely take employment anywhere in the United States, tapping into this valuable economy. In fact, EB-5 investors can live and work anywhere in the United States upon receiving their two-year conditional permanent residency rights, and in most cases, investors can earn passive income from their EB5 investment.