EB-5 Investor Green Card
The Employment-Based Green Card (Fifth Preference) category, or the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, was developed by the Immigration Act of 1990. The EB-5 Visa enables eligible immigrant investors to become legal permanent residents of the United States. The purpose of the EB-5 Program was to promote the growth of the US economy via capital investments made by foreign investors, and those investments would create jobs for US workers and jumpstart the economy.
The EB-5 Program was launched as a pilot program in 1992 and since its launch, it has been reauthorized on a regular basis. Under this program, investors may be eligible for an EB-5 classification if they make investments vita regional centers that are designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that manages legal US immigration, that are based on proposals that will encourage the growth of the economy. The Regional Center Program has been extended through September 30, 2019, when a law that extended the program was signed by the President on February 15, 2019.
EB-5 Investor Qualifications
In order for investors to qualify as an EB-5 Investor, they must make an investment in a new commercial enterprise. A commercial enterprise is a for-profit operation that is specifically designed to conduct business as a sole proprietor, a holding company, a joint venture, a limited or general partnership, a corporation, a business trust, or another private or publicly owned entity. The commercial enterprise is an enterprise that was:
- Established after November 29, 1990
- Established on or before November 29, 1990 and is bought by an investor and restructured so that it functions as a new commercial enterprise or the investment that is made in the enterprise expands the enterprise so that there an increase of at least 40 percent in the net worth of the enterprise or in the amount of employees that are employed by the enterprise.
EB-5 and Investment Qualifications
Under the EB-5 Program, the foreign investor must make a minimum capital investment in a commercial enterprise.
- An investment of $1 million must be made into a new commercial enterprise that is located in a general area in the United States.
- A minimum investment of $500,000 must be made in a commercial enterprise that is located in a Targeted Employment Area. A Targeted Employment Area is either a rural location within the United States, or an area where there is a high rate of unemployment (an unemployment rate that is 150 percent the national unemployment rate average) in the United States.
Capital refers to cash, inventory, equipment, or other forms of tangible properties or the cash equivalent. This capital must be owned by and invested by a foreign investor.
EB-5 and Job Creation
Additionally, in order to be considered for an EB-5 investor green card, the investor needs to invest a minimum of the amount of capital that is required under the EB-5 Program, and that investment must establish the creation of full-time jobs for a minimum of 10 employees who qualify for the positions that the enterprise requires. A breakdown of job creation is as follows:
- New commercial enterprises that are not situated in a regional location must create full-time jobs, and those jobs must be created as a result of the establishment of the new enterprise; in other words, the enterprise has to be the employer.
- New commercial enterprises that are situated in a regional location must create full-time jobs that are either direct or indirectly related to the business.
- If a foreign investor is investing in a troubled business – an established business that has existed for a minimum of 2 years and has suffered a new loss of 20 percent of the business net worth – new jobs do not have to be created; rather job maintenance can occur. In other words, the existing employees will maintain their position.
EB-5 Investor Green Card Process
Once a foreign investor meets the above-mentioned qualifications, they can begin the process of applying for an EB-5 Investor Green Card. The process of applying for an EB-5 Investor Green Card is as follows:
- An attorney will file a USCIS I-526, Immigrant Petition for Alien Investor, and must include proof of the investment that the foreign investor has made in a commercial enterprise.
- The applicant must become a two year conditional resident of the US. Doing so will allow him or her to implement the project that he or she has invested in. Residency can be obtained by:
- A Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status can be filed if the investor is already in the United States legally.
- A DS-230 must be filed to the National Visa Center through the US embassy or consulate of the investor’s home country if he or she is not already legally in the United States.
- EB-5 investors must become Unconditional Permanent Residents of the United States. To do so, an I-829 Petition must be filed to the USCIS 90 days before the date that the applicant received his or her initial conditional residency. The I-829 certifies the individual has met all necessary requirements that are outlined by the EB-5 Program.
EB-5 Visa Cost
The total cost of the EB-5 Visa varies and depends on several factors, including whether or not the applicant is adjusting his or her status or using consular processing.
The following costs will need to be paid:
- A USCIS I-526 filing fee
- A USCIS I-485 filing fee
- A biometrics fee (if applicable)
- Attorney fees
EB-5 Investor Green Card Processing Time
The amount of time it takes for an EB-5 Investor Green Card to be processed varies, as it depends on a variety of factors; however, typically, the USCIS will issue a green card within 8 months after the I-829 Petition has been received. Once the green card is issued, the investor him or herself, as well as his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under the age of 21 can live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. They will also have the option, if they choose, to become a legal US citizen five years after the date that they received their first conditional residency.