What is an EB5 visa?
The EB5 Immigrant Investor Program was created in 1990 in order to bring foreign investment into the U.S. to stimulate economic growth in the country through job creation. The EB5 program is designed to develop rural areas in the U.S. which have a higher than average unemployment rate. The EB5 visa currently has a 10,000-yearly cap.
The EB5 visa is also known as the employment-based fifth preference Green Card category. With an EB5 visa, foreign investors with capital may invest in a new or existing commercial enterprise aimed at creating 10 U.S. jobs, and in return, they can obtain a Green Card.
The EB5 visa grants permanent lawful resident status to EB5 holders and their families, who can live and work anywhere they wish in the United States.
A single EB5 investment permits the main investor applicant, spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to all obtain Green Cards.
If an EB5 project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) which typically has high unemployment, the minimum investment is currently $500,000. For a non-TEA project, $1,000,000 is needed to obtain a Green Card. If you wish to invest a smaller amount, you may be eligible for the E2 Visa. Also, U.S. immigration law welcomes foreign traders under the Treaty visa tier.
Applicants can be independent, or they can work as part of a pool of investors who are approved as a third-party intermediary.
What are the different tiers of EB5 visas?
- C5 visa – for investment outside the target areas
- T5 visa – for investment in areas with a high unemployment rate
- R5 visa – for participants of an Investor Pilot Program but not engaged in target areas
- I5 visa – for investors who work in specific regions under an Investor Pilot Program
EB5 benefits for investors
What are the benefits of an EB5 visa for investors?
- The investor, their spouse, and any unmarried children under 21 can obtain a Green Card
- Freedom to live, work, and travel wherever you wish in the U.S.
- As a Permanent Lawful Resident, you can leave and re-enter the U.S. as you wish.
- Can start a business in the U.S. without business immigration controls
- A quicker path to U.S. citizenship
- Investor’s children can study in the U.S. public school system.
- Employment opportunities for investors’ children
- In some circumstances, the EB5 visa can be one of the fastest ways to obtain a Green Card compared with other routes such as the EB1 visa, EB2 visa, and EB3 visa.
- No requirement for sponsorship
- A return on investment (ROI) if the business investment is successful
EB5 visa requirements
Here are the main EB5 visa requirements:
- You need to invest in a new business established after 29 November 1990
- You can invest in older commercial enterprises if your contribution leads to a significant increase in the net worth
- You need to make an “at risk” capital investment of $1 million
The minimum investment amount can be reduced to $500,000 if you invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). TEA areas are regions with a higher level (150%) of unemployment compared with the national average.
To be eligible for the EB5 visa you also need to be able to create new jobs, as follows:
- Your investment must result in at least 10 full-time jobs being created for U.S. workers
- This must be achieved within two years after your EB5 visa approval
EB5 document requirements
When you apply for an EB5 visa you will need to submit supporting documents, as follows:
- Evidence that your business has been established in a Targeted Employment Area (if relevant)
- Evidence that you have invested in a designated Regional Center according to the approved regional center business plan (if relevant)
- Evidence to show your investment will create at least 10 direct or indirect full-time jobs
- Copy of passport
- Copy of passport of any family members who are also applying
- Evidence to show you have or are in the process of investing the necessary amount – $500,000 to $,1,000,000+
- Evidence that the funds being invested have been obtained legally and are yours to control
- Copy of previous immigration applications, if any
- Certified copies of any judgment or legal actions (civil or criminal) against the petitioner from any U.S. or foreign court within the past 15 years
- Copy of business licenses where appropriate
- Evidence of other capital sources
- Financial statements for each business
- Proof of business ownership
- Tax returns for the last five years
- Bank statements for the last five years
Any non-English documents must be translated into English by a certified translator.
As you can see, the number of documents required for an EB5 visa is extensive. For assistance with your EB5 visa application contact Total Law now by completing our quick enquiry form or call us on 0333 305 9375.
EB5 minimum investment required
For an EB5 visa, applicants need to invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise, which must have been established after 29th November 1990.
If you wish to invest in a business existing before this date, you must show that it will be able to generate at least 40% increase in the net worth or in the number of employees.
New businesses must be able to create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying workers.
For a lower investment amount of $500,000, applicants can invest in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with an unemployment rate of 150% compared with the national average.
EB5 application process and processing time
To start your EB5 visa application you need to submit Form I-156, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. You do not need a U.S. sponsor and can self-petition, as you are investing your own capital.
The processing time for an EB5 petition varies greatly depending on your country of origin. It can take a few months to several years. You can check the status of your EB5 petition and the number of available permits for your country of origin from the EB5 Visa Bulletin.
Upon approval of your petition, the next stage is to wait for your priority date to become current, before submitting your visa application. Once you have submitted Form DS-260, the USCIS may ask for medical documents.
At the interview stage, you will need to show your supporting documentation. You will need to provide evidence that your application, investment, and business project fulfil the EB5 visa criteria.
How Total Law can help
Understanding all the nuances of U.S. immigration law can be a challenge and lead to delays or visa rejection. If a criteria is not met, something is missed. Errors in the process of applying for a visa can be costly and cause significant delays due to the frequently long waiting times.
We believe it pays to hire the services of specialist immigration lawyers when it comes to moving to the U.S. and fulfilling your goals quickly and effectively. Total Law immigration lawyers can ensure your EB5 visa petition and application are watertight and robust to maximise your chance of success, and reduce any delays that could otherwise occur.
We understand that there is much at stake with an EB5 visa application, and we can help you with this life-changing application and protect your investment. We’ll work with you at every stage of the process. We’ll help you with:
- Assisting with the petition stage
- Helping you ensure your supporting documentation is comprehensive
- Submitting your EB5 application on your behalf
- Liaising with any Regional Center
- Assisting with your family joining you in the U.S.
- Keeping you updated throughout
Call us now on 0333 305 9375 to discuss your situation, or fill out the quick enquiry form. We’re available in-person, via phone, and online. We offer expert advice for all U.S. work visas, family visas, study visas, visitor visas and U.S. citizenship.
EB5 visa rejection
It is disheartening to have a visa rejected but there are options available.
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons for EB5 visa petitions and applications being denied:
- Missing information in the petition
- An issue with the payment of the fee
- Missing documents
- Information inaccurate
- Investment funds requirement not being met
- Lack of evidence to show the funds are yours to control
- Lack of evidence for the job creation requirement
As for the options open to you, if your EB5 visa is denied there are several courses of action you could take, depending on the reasons for the denial. These reasons will be set out in the decision letter. This will also state what options you can now take, for example, whether you are permitted to appeal the decision or not.
Options after EB5 denial:
- Filing a legal motion
- Appealing the denial
- Refining the application
- There may also be other, more beneficial immigration options for you than the above three options
Due to the complicated immigration rules, criteria, and options that need to be considered, we highly recommend contacting an immigration lawyer to find out the best way forward for you after visa denial. This will save you time and potentially, further rejections.
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Yes, you can use a loan to fund an EB5 investment.
However, note the following requirements:
- The loan must be secured by an asset
- The asset must be owned by you
- The asset must have a value of the same as or greater than the loan amount
- You must be the main borrower of the loan
- You must be personally liable for repaying it
The EB5 visa (green card) requires that applicants meet the job creation requirement, which is to create at least 10 full-time jobs from investing in a new commercial enterprise that can create at least 10 full-time jobs.
The new commercial enterprise can be located within or outside a Regional Center.
Applicants may also be able to expand a troubled business where they can rely on maintaining jobs.
The job creation must be targeted at U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and refugees. Aliens in a non-immigrant status (such a the H1B visa) cannot be included.
Note that the jobs must be full-time, and any jobs that are seasonal or ad hocdo not qualify.
There are two ways in which you can invest your funds with the EB5 visa: invest it directly or through a Regional Center.
Direct investment would mean you would fully manage the project yourself. However, if you would welcome some support with your business project and maximising your ROI isn’t such a major priority, then an EB5 Regional Center can offer you that support.
The USCIS has given accredited Regional Centers designation to follow specific regulations in order to help make your project a success. A Regional Centre can reduce the burden and difficulty of generating profit.
For both routes the same EB5 visa requirements apply, however, under a Regional Center, meeting the job creation criteria may be easier and less complicated as you can benefit from indirect job creation.
Yes, with an EB5 visa your immediate family can join you in the U.S.
Upon arrival in the U.S., your spouse can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if they wish. This will permit them to work in the commercial enterprise you have invested in, or for another employer.
Note that any family member you employ in your business will not count towards the requirements for job creation.
In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of EB5 visa applicants, however, only 10,000 EB5 visas are available each year.
Therefore, seeking help from an immigration lawyer can help to strengthen your application to increase your chances of success.
Our immigration lawyers have already helped many clients obtain their EB5 visa and move to the U.S. We can assist with building the perfect strategy that is tailored to your unique circumstances and capital available, and with a view to ensuring profits are maximised.
More specifically, we can help with the following:
- Assess if your proposed project and investment meet the EB5 visa requirements
- If relevant, liaise with your chosen EB5 Regional Center
- Ensure correct filing of your EB5 visa application form
- Assist your family to join you in the U.S.