Scroll through various EB-5 Investor Questions answered by Immigration Experts
I and my wife earn together 200k+ and 500k asset including 401k. Can I try EB5 visa?
Yes. The majority of investors who successfully gain U.S permanent residency do so through a Regional Center who manages the project for you and other investors.
By applying through a Regional Center, the investment is ‘passive’, meaning you do not need to worry about creating US jobs or running a business.
99% of Regional Centers fall into the ‘Targeted Employment Area’ which means you shouldn’t expect to invest more than the $500,000 whether you are investing in downtown NYC project or Atlantic City .
One investment will cover the investor, his/her spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21.
The investment is returned to you after 5 years. Because of this many investors are able to make the sacrifices necessary, mortgaging a house, taking a loan etc to start the process because they are confident in the Eb-5 program and the project they have invested in.
There have been recent cases of EB-5 fraud where investor have lost their money and/or residency status so it is very important you select the right Regional Center /immigration attorney to make sure you get the process done right the first time.
How do I start a company in the US to get an EB-5 visa?
There are two options to get an EB-5 Visa. At the most simplest here they are:
- You invest directly into a business that you will actively manage full time in the US.
- You invest in a ‘Regional Center’ which manages the investment for you.
If you choose option 1. and would like to actively manage a business you need to begin by consulting an immigration attorney who has experience with EB-5 direct applications. They will be able to tell you if you are eligible and point you in the right direction for the requirements.
Some of the requirements are:
- Invest $500,000 into the business
- Show the source of the funds
- Create at least 10 full-time American jobs
- Actively manage the business yourself
If you choose options 2. the process starts by speaking with Regional Centers about their projects or consulting an immigration advisory firm and see what they offer.
Because the Regional Center manages the process there is no requirement for the investor to create jobs or handle extra administrative filings. You will still need to invest $500,000 and show the source of funds.
Can me and my brother file for EB5 for US citizenship?
There are a few requirements you need to meet before you can apply for the EB-5 Visa. The majority of investors go down the ‘passive’ route so there is no need to actively manage a business and create US jobs. This answer will be based on investing in a Regional Center (RC).
Please note the investment will cover an investor, spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21. If you and your brother are over that age you will need to file separate applications and separate investments.
After you have seen that the EB-5 program is right for you and your brother you must:
- Invest $500,000 through a Government approved Regional Center. (here is the list of all 859 of them)
- Be able to prove the source of the investment (mortgage deed, salary slips, investments etc)
- Pass a standard background check (not on any criminal or terrorist list like the SDN)
- Pay applicable administrative ($0k–55k), attorney($15k–30k) and government filing fees ($5k)
That is it. If you are investing in the RC there are no extra government audits, job creation, and working requirements.
On top of that there is no strict interview at a US embassy like other visas. If you are out of the US you will need to go to the embassy but if the paperwork is in order from the USCIS then there is no problem. (If you are already in the US you mail off your passport to get the new visa put in).
A note to the other answers, The accredited investor only applies to ‘US persons’. If you are a ‘Non-US Persons’ as per ‘Regulation S’ you do not to qualify as a ‘accredited investor’. You can read more on the SEC website
How much should I invest in the USA to get citizenship, and what is the procedure?
As of April 2019 the minimum investment is $500,000. This is known as the eb-5 program. The investment is used either by yourself or a ‘Regional Center’ to create US jobs and is returned after 5 years. Note that the investment grants US Permanent Residency for the investor, spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21. This can lead to citizenship if you meet criteria and theoretically can come 5 years after your first US Permanent Residency approval.
The EB-5 program will remain the same until it is re-authorized by Congress on September 30, 2017. Congress may extend the program as is, they may increase the investment requirement, they may change other requirements, or they may abolish the program all together. No one knows for sure but changes to the program, whether investment or other requirements, are likely.
There are two avenues to meet requirements of the eb-5 and be granted US Permanent Residency (Greencard). They are:
1. The Direct option. Invest in a ‘new’ business. Actively manage the business yourself, directly create at-least 10 full-time American jobs and invest at least $500,000 which you can show the source of the funds.
Begin by consulting an immigration attorney who has experience with EB-5 direct applications. They will be able to tell you if you are eligible and point you in the right direction for the requirements and drafting up your business plan.
2. The Regional Center option. The majority of investors choose the Regional Center (RC) option as they don’t want to, or cant, actively manage their own business. You will need to invest at least $500,000 which you can show the source of funds.
Start the process by consulting an eb-5 advisory firm which will see if you are eligible for the eb-5. They will provide you with the best ‘Regional Centers’ for you which can include real estate projects, existing businesses or new commercial projects. There is a list on the USCIS website.
Because the Regional Center manages the process there is no requirement for the investor to create jobs or handle extra administrative filings.
On average the timeline looks like:
Day 1: check your eligibility
1 -3 months: Start bringing together paperwork with your project rep and attorney to show background and source of funds
1-3 months: Invest $500,000 into the RC escrow account. This can be done as soon as your source of funds and background documents are complete. You have to invest before filing for the i-526.
1-3 months: File for I-526. This can take 4–20 months (if declined your $500,000 investment is returned to you)
7–20 months: Your I-526 application is approved. You can travel to, live, work or study in America with a US Permanent Residency (conditional) in your passport. It can be as quick as 4 months but usually takes longer.
2 years after entering: Your immigration attorney can file the i-829 to remove the conditional from you Permanent Residency. You are now a full fledged US Permanent Resident
5 years after entering: If you lived in America for 50% of a 5 year period and meet other requirements, you can become a US citizen and passport holder. This is also the time that your $500,000 investment comes back to you depending on the project you invest in.
Does anybody get the green card/citizenship through an EB5?
If I read your question right, anybody can qualify for the eb-5 program only if:
They pass a background check.
They can invest $500,000 which they can show the source of funds.
If you can do those two things you will get the ‘Conditional Greencard’ with the condition being you have to show that your money has gone to create US jobs. (if using a Region Center, they will create jobs for you).
From there your immigration attorney will file to have the conditions removed. Now you will be a full fledged US permanent resident but not a citizen (passport holder).
If you want to get the US Citizenship and passport you have to do so via the Naturalization process which requires you to meet conditions over a 5 year period.
Another way to answer your question:
One investment will cover the investor, his/her spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21.
How was your EB-5 GreenCard filling experience, where was the investment made, how did it turn out, can you share your learnings?
I can’t answer as someone who has done an EB-5 Investment but I can try to give some industry insight having worked in the industry for the last 3 years.
99% of EB-5 Investment Projects fall with the TEA area – so you will only invest $500,000. not $1 mill.
You will need to hire an attorney that will cost somewhere between $15–20k. – Some are quicker than others at processing the case. If time is a concern, watch out.
Not all projects are made equal and there have been cases of fraud in the EB-5 Industry. Look through the current projects and have your own financial analyst look through the details.
The attorney you hire isn’t usually fit to look into the project financials on your behalf. They are however fit to look at the immigration side of the project.
- Does the Regional Center have approval?
- Will the project create the required jobs for me to get a Permanent Green Card
- Administrative fees aren’t essential – Some projects are as low a $0. Some are $60,000. The project quality typically remains the same.
- The waiting time can be longer than you think. Processing times for the initial application can take anywhere from 4 months (special project) to 20 months (industry norm).
Depending on your and your spouse’s country of birth – you may also a backlog on top of that. After you get an I-526 approval, you will then need to book a consular interview (assuming you aren’t already in the US). This can be a few months depending on your country.
Having worked as an advisor we were often the middleman between projects and the client.
Most of the time the clients needed two things:
- Help through the process which an advisor or immigration attorney is great for
- Current project information, documents and data points.
They are smart enough or have their own analyst to look through. They don’t need us telling them a good vs bad project.
Because of this this website was made, where investor can ask for as little or as much help as they want and contact the projects and regional centers directly
Is it possible to obtain an EB-5 immigration visa through real estate development?
Short answer Yes. But it might not be the same as you think.
While it is possible to obtain an EB-5 immigration visa through real estate developments, there are a few things we need to look at.
Direct vs Passive (Regional Center) EB-5 investment
There are two paths you can take to be granted an EB-5 Visa.
Invest at least $500,000 into a new business that you actively manage.
There are many requirements for you to follow. The biggest one standing out is the 10 full-time American Jobs for at-least 2 years. Meaning this has to be a decently sized project.
Of course if you are a property developer and can meet the requirements for the EB-5 visa then this may be the best route for you to maximize your returns on investment and get the EB-5 visa.
Invest at least $500,000 into a Regional Center
Dubbed a ‘passive’ investment because the Regional Center brings together investors, manages the project, takes care of the government audits and job creation.
There are 851 Regional Centers for you to put your money in. A majority of these are Real Estate Developments. Here is the full List: Immigrant Investor Regional Centers
Not all Regional Centers are built the same, with some offering different returns and differing levels of riskiness.
This is a great way to get your EB-5 visa for the investor who doesnt have the time or knowledge to actively manage a business or project.
One Requirement for EB-5 is an “at risk” investment
One of the only requirements for the EB-5 Visa is that the investment is “at risk”.
As far as EB-5 and Real Estate Developments are concerned: Some potential EB-5 investment project offerings include a “reservation agreement,” so that in the event that the project fails, the investor will still be compensated with a unit of the existing real estate. Unlike the example above, this sort of practice has been found to violate the investment “at risk” requirement.
We also see that in some potential projects, the $500,000 can go towards locking in a ‘pre-sale price’ for real estate. This is still acceptable as long as the other requirements have been met and the property isn’t held in collateral against the investment.
For another article on this, see post here
Once you have an EB-5 visa, do you need to stay in the US?
An EB-5 visa is the same as US Permanent Residency or a ‘Green Card’
Usually, you need to be in the US 1 day every 6 months to maintain your ‘permanent residency’
There are however ways to lengthen this time. For example, you can apply for a re-entry permit and stay out of the US for more than 1 year.
Other ways that investors get around this is by not including one spouse on the application. For example, the wife will be on the application with the children. The husband is not. This means the husband is free to stay in the home country for as long as he wishes and can visit his family in America on a tourist visa.
This also solves the issue of Tax which David mentioned. Because he is not a Permanent Resident, he does not have to complete a tax return on his worldwide income.
When he has wrapped up his business and it is time to move to America permanently, his wife and children are probably US citizens by now and can sponsor him to join them.
Just two options out of many to mitigate against the time and tax requirements of US permanent residency.
I’m on an H-1B visa, earning around $500,000/year, but I’m stuck in the EB-2 India line with a PD in 2014. Should I apply for an EB-5 investor visa?
If you have access to the required investment of $500,000 and can part with it for 7+ years, then the EB-5 is a great option to become a permanent resident.
Assuming you and your spouse were both born in India, as is common with the majority of H1bs, then the potential backlog is important to note. Since Nimrod’s answer below in Dec 2018, the Indian backlog has still not become official and has only been speculated on more and more. The general idea is you will waiting 2–3 years for the initial green card.
The recent number of applicants has fallen so this is good news for new Indian applicants who are yet to invest. The wait time won’t be as long.
You won’t be alone switching from H1b to EB-5. Thousands of H1bs have applied in the last few years in a bid to avoid the EB-2/3 wait times and to be able to stay permanently in the US. Even recently, the extra waiting time hasn’t seemed to slow down the H1b applications. Perhaps because they are already in America and they can afford to wait the extra 2 – 3 years with very little, if any, downside.
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