The EB 5 program was created by Congress in 1990 to incentivise job creation in the US. In terms of this program, foreign entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for permanent resident status (a green card) if they: (1) make a qualifying investment in a commercial enterprise within the United States, and (2) create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers.
The EB 5 visa is often referred to as an investor visa. Those who qualify for it are allowed to bring their spouses and unmarried children (under the age of 21) with them to the US. In 1992, Congress created the Regional Center Program, which makes it much easier to invest in a qualifying US commercial enterprise. This program sets aside investor visas for investors who invest in so-called regional centers. These centers, and the job creation they ensure, are approved by the USCIS and therefore automatically guarantees that an investment complies with the necessary requirements for the EB 5 program.
Elsewhere in this blog, we provided a detailed overview of the EB 5 program and its requirements. In this guide, we provide a step-by-step guide to the filing process.
1. File Form I-526
The first step to obtaining an investor visa is to file Form I-526. This is arguably also the most time-consuming step: it requires that you prove how your investment complies with the EB 5 program requirements. The newest version of the form is available on the USCIS website, free of charge.
The form requires that you submit the following information:
- General information about you. This includes your name, address, citizenship, planned arrival in the US, your travel documents, and information related to your current immigrant status in the US, if applicable.
- Information about your investment. You have to disclose and prove the type and amount of your investment, where it has been made, whether or not it is in a targeted employment area and/or a regional center. You are also required to disclose information about your net worth and income.
- Information about the new commercial enterprise in which you invested. This includes the business’s registration number, physical address, management, etc.
- Information about the planned job-creation that will flow from your EB 5 investment.
- Information about your spouse and children.
- General information and declarations required for processing.
Your Form I-526 will have to be accompanied by the necessary evidence to prove the assertions made in the form. The exact evidence required will depend on your unique situation, but it will generally include the following:
- Evidence that you have invested in or are actively in the process of investing in a qualifying commercial enterprise (or, if applicable, a regional center).
- Evidence, if applicable, that you have invested in an enterprise in a targeted employment area. This is only relevant if you want to be eligible for a reduction in the required investment amount.
- Evidence that you are or will be engaged in the management of the enterprise in which you are investing.
- Evidence that proves your investment (a minimum of $1 million, or, if you qualify for the reduced amount, $500,000).
- Evidence that you obtained the investment capital through lawful means. This includes proof of your net worth, your business records, and tax returns, as well as criminal records.
- Evidence of the jobs that will be created through your EB 5 investment.
Once completed, you can file the form and accompanying evidence by sending it via FedEx, UPS or DHL to the following address: USCIS, Att: I-526, 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, TX, 75067.
Be sure to complete all sections of the form, and to sign it. Any forms that are not fully completed or signed will be sent back, resulting in delays. Your form has to be accompanied by a filing fee of $3,675. You can include it as a personal check, money order, or cashier’s check. Alternatively, you can pay by credit card using Form G-1450.
Usually, it takes about 12-18 months for the form to be processed. Your application might be approved, or you might be required to submit further information and evidence, or you could be invited for an interview.
Once approved, you and your dependents have the right to become conditional permanent residents of the US for two years.
2. Apply for your EB 5 Visa
Once your petition has been approved, you will have to obtain your visa. This can be done in two ways:
If you are already a resident of the US under another status, you have to file Form I-485 to change your status to that of an EB 5 visa holder.
If you are not a resident of the US, you have to apply for your visa by filing Form DS-230 at your national US embassy or consulate. This visa application process will typically also involve an interview.
As a rule of thumb, it takes about 6-12 months to receive your visa. Upon approval of your change of status, or upon your entry into the US with your EB-5 visa, you and your dependents will be granted conditional permanent residence for 2 years.
3. File Form I-829
Finally, you have to file Form I-829 within the 90-day period immediately preceding the second anniversary of your admission to the US as an EB 5 visa holder. If this form is approved, you and your dependents will become lawful permanent residents of the US (i.e. all conditions and restrictions on your status will be removed).
The form generally requires that you prove you investment, involvement in the enterprise in which you invested, and the job creation that flowed from your investment. It has to be accompanied by a filing fee of $3,750 as well as a biometric services fee of $85.
Hire a US Immigration Lawyer Today
The safest way to get approved for the EB 5 program is to make sure you successfully complete the application process the first time. How do you achieve that? Hire a quality immigration attorney.
That’s where LawTrades comes in. We are a legal platform that routinely connects foreign-based entrepreneurs with American attorneys to figure out the best way for them to apply and obtain their visas. Simply sign-up on our site, and get your visa application process started today.