How To Turn Your EB 5 Visa Into An American Citizenship

So, you have decided to apply for the most famous entrepreneur visa, USA category. However, the paperwork and EB 5 green card process are way complex than you estimated. We have the solution to your problem: an immigration lawyer to help you through the EB 5 process. To know more about the process, keep reading further.

The EB 5 visa process is authorized by USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to grow the American economy by attracting alien investors and providing lawful American citizenship if they abide by the project rules and meet the criteria.

Entrepreneur Visa USA Requirements

  1. The minimum EB 5 direct investment amounts will be US $1.8 million as a direct commercial enterprise and $900,000 for regional centers.
  2. You can also apply for regional centers and get the rebate in capital investment for projects qualified for TEA.
  3. Create 10 full-time jobs for US citizens legitimately required by the business in 2 years of your condition visa card. 
  4. With a regional center project, the job can be created and induced indirectly.
  5. The capital must be invested in a USA commercial enterprise and fulfill the “at-risk” condition.

TEA– Target Employment Areas are either rural areas or areas with high unemployment rates. These are located outside the metropolitan areas, as mentioned by the US office of management and budget. The areas must have an unemployment rate of 150% of that of the USA.

EB 5 Visa Green Card Process – How is it done?

Find A Qualifying Project– 

  • Select the projects that can give you better ROI and meet the eligibility criteria for EB 5 Green card process. 
  • Also, look out for the US-approved regional center’s list while selecting the project. 
  • It is essential that you do your research instead of relying on the regional center entirely.
  • As an EB 5 visa investor, it becomes essential that you are creating 10 full-time jobs for US citizens to qualify for the EB 5 visa.
  • Investing in a regional center can generally result in job creation directly or indirectly. Thus making it the preferred choice of investments by EB 5 investors.
  • With the regional center, the returns are less, but the risks are minimal. However, with EB 5 direct investments in a business, the risk is more, but the returns are also higher. 
  • The applicant will have to sign a subscription agreement with the liability or partnership firm to make investments. Once the contract is signed and the partner has recognized the investor, the fund will be added to an escrow account.

File The Petition– 

  • Once you have submitted the EB 5 investment amount, the applicant can have the I-526 application filed on his behalf. 
  • Your business must be credible in USCIS eyes for your application to approve
  • Investment funds must be credited into the escrow account and should be entirely invested in the project
  • To qualify for the capital rebate, the project must fulfill the TEA requirement at the time of investments.
  • In the case of I-526 denial, the amount will be refunded. However, not all guarantees are created equal. In such cases, you must read the contract thoroughly.
  • Some NCE’s also hold up to 10% to 20% of all the funds by an investor in the account. This serves as a cushion amount to pay back to the investors having their application denied.

Conditional 2-Year Residency-

Once the project has been approved, conditional residency can be attained in two ways. 

A. Fill Form I-485 if living in the US with $1,140 and $85 as a biometric fee. You will need the Birth certificate, marriage certificate, criminal history certificate, two photographs, passport copy, and documents showing current US visa status.

B. File Form DS-260 if you are on a foreign land with the US consulate and embassy. This includes the application form as well as consulate interviews.

Approval of your application will result in 2 years of conditional residency, where your project will fulfill the eligibility criteria.

Applicant must be physically present in the USA for one year at least.

3 months before the expiration of your conditional residency, the applicant can apply for unconditional residency if the project met all the criteria.

Unconditional Residency-

  • This is the final step to become a permanent resident in the USA. For this, the applicant needs to file application I-829 and wait for its approval.
  • This application provides documentation proving that the applicant has met all requirements necessary for attaining his unconditional residency.
  • The application fee for this is $3,750 and $85 biometrics fee.
  • The documents required for this application are a conditional visa, evidence of lawfully created business as per federal tax returns, documents supporting the existence of the commercial enterprise, biometric documentation, legal documents about criminal records (if any), proof of job creation, and as requested by the officials.
  • The average processing time of the I-829 application is up to 37.2 months.
  • On successful approval of the I-829 application, the applicant’s family can also apply for the unconditional visa individually through an immigration attorney. 
  • These unconditional Green cards are issued for 10 years which can always be renewed.
  • Now applicant and his family can freely live in the US and claim the same benefits as US citizens.

Naturalization Process-

This is an optional process. 5 years after the issue of a conditional green card, an applicant can apply for American citizenship. For this, you will need to pass the US Civics/History and English exams and attend the oath ceremony as the final bid. Now you can permanently live and work in the US.

EB 5 Timeline At A Glance

EB 5 processTimeline
Do your research1 to 3 month
Submit funds and file your I-526 petition1 to 3 month
Wait for I-526 approval10 months to 2 years
Apply for conditional Green Card- present in the USA- not present in the USA
6 to 14 months3 to 6 months
Start conditional residency2 years
Unconditional residency24 to 37 months

EB 5 Visa Investments Opportunity

You can either make a direct investment or rely on a regional center to qualify for the project. Read this table below to understand the difference and decide which path is more suitable for you.

Regional CenterDirect Investments
Investments US $ 900, 000 In TEA*US $1.8 millions
Jobs createdJobs can be created directly or induced base on the investmentsMinimum 10 full-time jobs should be created
Relevancy of JobsJobs are not required to be generated directly in your businessJobs must be relevant to business and are legitimately required
Level of participationPassive participation of the applicantActive participation in the application
Owning businessNot ApplicableThe applicant owns the business lawfully
ResearchThe US government generally approves projects, and minimum research is requiredApplicant needs to do his research about his project

What Constitutes The Commercial Enterprise?

As per the official guidelines, All EB 5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise that was established

  • After 29th November 1990; or
  • On or before 29th November 1990, that was:
    • Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results; or
    • Expanded through the investment, resulting in at least a 40% increase in the net worth or number of employees.

Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business, including:

  • A sole proprietorship;
  • Partnership (whether limited or general);
  • Holding company;
  • Joint venture;
  • Corporation;
  • Business trust; or
  • Other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned.

This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries if each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.

This definition does not include noncommercial activity, such as owning and operating a personal residence.

Latest EB 5 News Updates And Notifications 

As per the latest EB 5 news updates on USCIS, applicants can find the application dates for the visa application. The applications are described as low end and high end from 50% to 93% as of 1st March 2021. 

Petitioners from mainland China has not displayed any movements, but those from other countries are expected to have a visa processing time of 31 to 48 month. Visit the official site for more EB 5 legalization updates.

EB 5 Visa Allotment 

A total of 700 visas per country are released for foreign investors interested in entrepreneur visas USA. On exceeding this quota, the applicants are placed on the waiting list. Since EB 5 visa program is highly popular, people from mainland China are facing long delays. 

At the same time, people from other countries like India are also delayed at times.  You can find this quota data and your country application status on the visa bulletin released on the official site. Since it is rather difficult to interpret, you can contact an EB 5 Indian lawyer to understand how to get an EB 5 visa in your case.

EB 5 Program Extensions

EB 5 program has been stopped and restarted multiple times in the past. This time, the EB5 visa program expiration date has been concluded on 30th June 2021. However, the experts forecast that the program will be extended again under the Biden government, which is more immigrant-friendly. 

Also, the EB 5 visa program is an excellent way to elevate the American economy, especially when considered as a post-pandemic option to stimulate the American economy. 

How Can A Visa Lawyer Help You?

An immigration lawyer works with high-end EB 5 real estate developers to offer the projects to the investor that can help fulfill the entrepreneur visa USA requirements and provide good returns. 

He will also ensure that you are investing in a regional center approved by the US government that is handled by managers with a high success rate. Their expertise and guidance will provide hassle-free processing of EB 5 visa, and the user can sleep peacefully knowing his capital is in the right hands. 

If required, the lawyers will also assist you in taking EB 5 loans at low rates and ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the same.

EB 5 Visa- A Family Deal?

A qualifying applicant can attain his EB 5 visa for himself and his family. The family includes spouses and unmarried children below 21 years of age who qualify for the unconditional green card. With this, they can live in the USA as a lawful citizen and qualify for all the benefits. 

It becomes essential in such cases that you plan for US citizenship in advance so that you don’t have to leave anyone behind. Contact an immigration lawyer to understand the EB 5 green card process in detail. 

Can You Apply For A Loan On EB 5 Investments?

As per the new guidelines, one can invest in an EB 5 visa program by taking a loan. However, you will need to show the papers confirming the assets that secured the loan for your case are lawfully obtained and holds the value. You will also need to show the proof of periodic loan repayment done throughout the process. 

Benefit Of EB 5 Green Card Process

  • You receive lawful citizenship and a business in the USA with good returns.
  • Your family can apply for a Green card as well
  • You are not bound to live near the investment site 
  • You can be a passive manager
  • Your investments capital should be from a lawful source
  • You can travel outside the US and return without a visa
  • Decrease university fee and other benefits applicable only for a US citizen 
  • Get your full citizenship after the first 5 years of applications
  • Run your own business and expand your income group
  • Sponsor green card for your close relatives as well 

What Is An EB 5 Visa Direct Investments

Investments that the regional centers do not sponsor are called direct investments. It involves migrating and managing your business on your own. Since the investments are made directly, an applicant is advised to do his research and visit the site at least twice before finalizing any project.

  • Direct EB 5 visa has little paperwork and therefore takes less time for an application to process than regional centers.
  • Those complying with regional centers aren’t always offered a free exit strategy, whereas those in direct investments can exit whenever they want to.
  • A direct investment can be less risky and can be managed carefully by you.
  • Your visa success rate depends on how you handle your business
  • You will gain better returns on your investments

During Direct investments, it’s essential that an applicant is doing exhaustive project research and has gone through all the legal formalities. 

How Real-estate And EB 5 Visa Are Related?

Over the years, the EB 5 real estate business has been considered popular for EB 5 investment opportunities by investors. Their projects attract foreign entrepreneurs to invest the capital and gain a visa for themselves and their families. This may include investing in a property, building a bridge, or buying an old business. 

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