The EB-5 visa program, also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, allows foreigners, who invest a significant amount of money into the US economy, to secure permanent residency or a Green Card. This visa category is intended to create jobs and foster economic growth in the US. To that end, investors are expected to invest upwards of 500 thousand dollars by establishing a business or investing in a USCIS-approved regional center. The exact sum for investment is $1 million dollars or $500,000 if invested in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). While there have been some changes to the minimum investment amounts in recent years. The aforementioned investment amounts remain in effect as of mid 2021.
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Foreign investors from any country, who are able to make the necessary investment and provide required documentation, may be eligible for the EB-5 program. However, there is an annual limit on how many EB-5 investment visas are available. Investors, their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 will be eligible to apply for permanent residency through the program.
EB-5 investors must put at risk much of their investment funds. This means that their funds must be spent or invested in such a way that they risk losing these funds should the company perform badly. This means that if the company or EB-5 project does not thrive and/or the investors EB-5 application is rejected, it should not be possible to recoup most of the invested funds. If funds are not sufficiently put at risk, USCIS can reject the application. With that said, if a business does well or a successful EB-5 project may lead to an investor recouping his initial investment through profit.
EB-5 case processing times can vary from 6 months to a year. This does not include the subsequent application and removal of conditions on the investor’s green card. Given the complicated nature of EB-5 cases, investors should work closely with an experienced attorney to ensure that the case is properly compiled and submitted. This would help to reduce the overall time of the EB-5 case processing timeframe.
Once the investors I-526 applications are approved, they received conditional permanent residency. This is a 2-year conditional residency period. If the investor meets all requirements during the 2 year time period, then they can submit form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. Once this petition is approved the conditional requirements are removed from the Permanent Residency status for the investor and his dependent family members. The residency permits, or green cards, will then include the full benefits of any other Legal Permanent Resident.
Loans may be used as investment funds, but this option can be complicated. The investor must be the principle borrower and must be personally liable for repayment. Loans must be secured by assets that is not the invested commercial enterprise. It is important to note that not all loans will qualify to be used for EB-5 investment. An experienced attorney can help to guide an investor in the correct way to utilize loans and other fund options.
Gift funds can be used for an investment. However, it is important to note that the source of those gift funds will also need to be disclosed and evidenced. It is generally not enough to simply say that money was gifted. The gifted funds must also trace back to a lawful source.
There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available per year. Each country can take up approximately 7% of the total available visas. If there are unused visas, these will be put towards high demand countries.