What are the Basic EB-5 Requirements?

Basics of the EB-5 Investment Visa

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by an Act of Congress in 1990 as a means to spur economic growth in the United States. The EB-5 visa is an investor visa: petitioners invest in a new, job creating enterprise in exchange for permanent residency in the United States. Unlike other permanent residency visas, the EB-5 visa does not require a minimum level of education, an employment offer, or sponsorship. But, applicants must invest a minimum of $800,000 in a business or project that subsequently creates at least 10 jobs per investor.

Advantages for EB-5 Investors

Applying for an EB-5 visa can be the fastest available route to a green card for individuals from certain countries.

One investment provides U.S. permanent residency for the investor, the investor’s spouse, and the investor’s unmarried children under the age 21.

EB-5 visa holders can live and work anywhere in the United States.

Applying for an EB-5 visa can be the fastest available route to a green card for individuals from certain countries.

Children of Investors can attend universities in the United States and can be eligible for in-state tuition fees.

The visa has no prior education or language requirements.

The visa has no sponsorship requirements.

Applying for EB-5 does not affect other ongoing forms of U.S. legal status (i.e. H1-B, F1, B1, etc.)

What is the Investment amount and are there any other expenses for filing an EB-5 Visa petition?

The EB-5 program requires an investment of $800,000 for projects that are located in rural areas and areas that have high unemployment (Targeted Employment Areas, or TEAs) or $1.8 million in areas that are not considered TEAs. In addition to the required capital investment, investors also incur other fees associated with filing the petition and administration of funds.

Description (TEA Regional Center Project)Amount in USD
Investment into the escrow account of the EB-5 Project$800,000
Admin fees paid to Regional Center$60,000-75,000*
Immigration attorney fees for filing I-526 petition$15,000*
USCIS filing fees for I-526 petition$4000*
Total:$879,000-$894,000

Risks for EB-5 Investors

Per U.S. Immigration regulations, an investor’s funds must be “At-Risk” to qualify as an EB-5 investment. As such, the investor is not entitled to a guaranteed return on the investment; in fact, anything that resembles a guaranteed return will lead to a denial of the EB-5 petition. Investors should also be aware that an EB-5 investment is not a liquid investment, and funds can be tied up for at least five years.

Because of these risks, it is crucial that investors work with a knowledgeable and experienced EB-5 advisor. Doing so can ensure that investors choose an investment project that not only results in a green card, but also yields a positive return on investment.

EB-5 Resources – Your Trusted Advisor

EB-5 Resources provides comprehensive advisory services for investors pursuing permanent residency in the U.S. through the EB-5 program. We are a team of trusted professionals led by Ashok Adusumilli, an advisor with more than five years of experience in the EB-5 industry who has strong relationships with project sponsors, investors, attorneys, and migration agents worldwide. Mr. Adusumilli is also an EB-5 investor and has personally, and successfully navigated the EB-5 process.

I know the fears and anxieties EB-5 investors face, and understand the common pitfalls that can lead to delays, denials, and lost capital. Using my connections and expertise, I will guide you through the arduous EB-5 process and minimize the risk involved. My allegiance lies solely with my clients and my goal is to successfully shepherd each client from project selection to permanent residency by providing expert advice, insight, and services at every stage of the process.

Ashok Kumar

Steps In the EB5 Process

Obtaining a green card through the EB-5

Obtaining a green card through the EB-5 program is more complex than a simple application. It is a process that can span years and requires due diligence, foresight, and planning for the immediate – and future – application requirements. EB-5 Resources is your partner for every step of the process from project selection to permanent residency.

Initial Consultation

Our first step is to understand your needs and how they relate to the EB-5 program requirements. The EB-5 process is complex and nuanced, making it difficult for even experienced investors to navigate. We assist you in finding an EB-5 pathway that fits your needs. As part of our consultation, we will analyze:

Your financial and risk profile

Your current immigration status and needs

Your long term goals and how the EB-5 process fits into your bigger picture

Based on your profile, we will match you with an experienced immigration attorney that is knowledgeable about both the nuances of your case and the conditions of your country of origin.

From a legal perspective, one of the most rigorous requirements of the program is verifying that the money you used for your EB-5 investment came from legitimate sources. As most investors do not obtain their entire EB-5 investment from one source, it is important that we consult with your immigration attorney to ensure that both the sources and path of funds are documented in compliance with U.S. law.

Project Comparison and Research

Next, we will work with you to compile a shortlist of investment projects that align with your investment risk profile and are fundamentally strong relative to EB-5 program requirements. We conduct in-depth due diligence to ensure that each project is viable and the information provided from project sponsors is accurate.

Based on our research and due diligence, we will map the pros and cons of the projects on your shortlist and help you make your final decision. We then act as an intermediary between you and the Regional Center sponsoring the project to ensure that your place is reserved.

Filing the EB-5 Petition

Once a project is selected and your space has been reserved, you will submit an I-526 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

File I-526

After an investor wires the investment and fees to the Regional Center, the attorney will file the I-526 Petition package with USCIS for processing.
Approximately two to three weeks after filing the petition, you will receive an I-797C receipt notice from USCIS stating that your case was received and the date it was received. This date is your official Priority Date. Once you receive your Priority Date, your petition is in the queue for adjudication by USCIS.

The Role of the Immigration Attorney

Your immigration attorney will work with you to create your Source of funds paperwork and your I-526 petition to submit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

I-526 Adjudication

USCIS takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to adjudicate petitions (depending on priority processing and other factors). While your petition is pending adjudication, you must ensure that you maintain your eligibility. For example, if you are already in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant status, your status must remain valid the entire time you are in the United States. In the event you return to your country of origin, your EB-5 eligibility and the status of your petition will not be affected. We can serve as a resource for eligibility questions during this time. We will also assist you in navigating tax issues, including pre immigration tax and estate planning and ensuring interest payments are reflected on your tax returns.

Receiving Your Conditional Green Card

Once your I-526 is approved, you are eligible to receive your conditional green card. The next steps depend on where you reside. An important note: if your country of origin is in retrogression – meaning there are too many investors for the number of available visas – you cannot proceed until your priority date is called. We can advise on estimated timing based on your country of origin and track priority dates on your behalf.

If you reside outside the United States

Once your I-526 is approved, You will be completing the next step called Consular processing at the embassy/Consulate in your country of residence. You would have to attend an interview, where your passport will be stamped with the immigrant visa and upon entry to the US, you will be mailed your conditional green card.

If you reside inside the United States

you will file an I-485/Adjustment of Status (AOS) for change of status rather than interviewing with the Consular. Along with the AOS, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and travel permit (AP), which will be approved sooner than your I-485. Once the I-485 is processed, you receive your Green Card in the mail.

Apply for removal of conditions on green card

The green card you receive is conditional, meaning that it is valid for two years, pending the fulfillment of the EB-5 program requirements. Toward the end of the two-year conditional residency period, your immigration attorney will file your I-829 petition to remove the conditions of the green card. The I-829 package compiled by your attorney will verify that your investment has met the criteria of the program, namely that the project in which you invested has created the 10 requisite jobs for your investment. While your I-829 petition is processed, you can remain in the United States on your conditional green card. Once the I-829 is processed and approved, you will receive a permanent green card.

Return of Funds

According to the EB-5 regulations, you are eligible to receive your investment back once it has remained at risk, and you have completed your entire two-year conditional residency period. This time frame applies even if your I-829 approval is still being processed. Keep in mind that the timing of the investment return is also dependent on the project in which you have invested.

Success

Once you have received your permanent green card and your investment has been returned, your EB-5 journey is complete. After residing permanently in the United States for four years and nine months (starting from the time you received your conditional green card), you are eligible to file for citizenship in the United States.

US EB-5 GREEN CARD PROCESS & TIMELINE

EB5 Process

Evaluate & compare multiple projects. Select a project that will get you your green card and also return your investment. After selecting & investing $800,000 USD, your attorney will file the 1-526.

1-526 Approval

It can take anywhere between 18 to 24 months on average for a 526 approval. We have seen in certain cases approvals getting delayed up to 36 months, but this is less than 10% of cases.

Conditional Green Card

If you are outside the USA, you will have to complete the Consular Processing interview at the US Consulate in your country. If you are inside the USA, you will have to file form 1-485 for adjustment of status in the US.

1-829 Filling

After receiving your conditional green card which is valid for 2 years, you will have to apply for a permanent green card between 21 to 24 months after receiving the conditional green card. It can take up to 2 years after filing form 1-829 to receive the permanent green card.

Return Of Investment

24 months after beginning your conditional green card status, you are eligible to get back your EB-5 investment. Of course, the return is subject to terms and conditions signed during your initial project selection.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Routes Are Available to Prospective EB-5 Investors?

The EB-5 immigrant investor program allows two routes for investors:

1. Direct EB-5 Investment:

In a direct investment project, the EB-5 petitioner invests capital in a new commercial enterprise that creates a minimum of 10 direct,full-time qualifying jobs. A direct job is defined as that in which the employee is a W-2 employee of the new commercial enterprise.

This route is commonly taken by investors who want to start and operate their own business in the U.S., invest in a startup company, or buy into an existing enterprise. Investors that choose this route would likely invest in an operations-based business (as opposed to real estate projects) due to the limited scope of qualifying jobs.

It is important to note that for any EB-5 investment, the requisite jobs must be created as a result of the investment. So, for those choosing the direct EB-5 route and investing in existing enterprises, be sure that the business has a plan, and the likely prospect, of creating additional jobs with your investment.

To ensure your petition is properly prepared for submission to USCIS, it is important to work with an experienced immigration attorney, business plan writer, and tax consultant.

2. Regional Center EB-5 Investment:

A Regional Center is an entity that is designated by USCIS to promote economic growth in a specific region by sponsoring and managing projects that are funded with EB-5 capital. As compared to the EB-5 Direct Investment route, which is typically used to funnel investment into individual operating businesses, Regional Centers are used to pool investment from multiple EB-5 investors to fund larger projects, such as commercial and residential real estate development, hotel developments, infrastructure projects, and manufacturing facilities. The investment and job creation requirements are the same in both the Direct and Regional Center routes, but the way funds are structured differ, and Regional Center projects can count both indirect and induced job creation, in addition to direct jobs.

Approximately 90-95% of invested EB-5 capital has been invested through Regional Centers. This model is popular because it offers a turnkey investment solution for investors:

Investors are not actively engaged in day to day management of a business
Projects can count indirect and induced jobs, as well as direct jobs
Regional Centers are tasked with tracking data and statistics regarding job creation, which makes process of proving job creation at the final phase of the process easier for investors
Most Regional Center projects are located in a Targeted Employment Area and therefore qualify for the lower investment amount
Prior to investing, I conducted extensive research into both routes and found that the Regional Center option was the better route for me because it allowed me to have minimal involvement in the new commercial enterprise and continue my work.

Because of the knowledge I have obtained through my research and experience, I can guide you through the process for either route.

What Parties are Involved in the EB-5 Process?

The EB-5 process can be complicated, and working with experienced advisors and professionals ensures that you avoid common pitfalls that could, at best, extend processing times and, at worst, lead to a denial. The various professionals that typically collaborate on any EB-5 petition include:

1. EB-5 Advisor:

An EB-5 advisor can serve as a quarterback for your EB-5 journey by vetting service providers, engaging in due diligence on projects, and working with you one-on-one to ensure a smooth process. As a FINRA registered Agent I interact with Regional Centers, EB-5 immigration attorneys, securities attorneys, economists, and business plan writers on a daily basis. I constantly conduct due diligence on projects and I remain cognizant of changes in EB-5 policies and regulations. As part of my services, I offer recommendations to investors detailing the pros and cons of each project. If an investor chooses the Direct EB-5 Investment route, I not only provide guidance through the process of successfully establishing the business, but also provide access to my network of professionals to ensure the EB-5 petition is approved by USCIS without a hitch.

2. Immigration Attorney:

Your immigration attorney will assist with immigration planning; develop a source of funds strategy and help compile the associated documentation; and ensure that you remain in compliance with immigration regulations. Your immigration attorney will work with you throughout the process, starting with the I-526 petition and ending with your citizenship application. As the EB-5 process involves multiple intertwined steps, it is crucial that you choose an experienced attorney with in-depth knowledge of the complexities of EB-5 law.

3. Regional Center/Investment Issuer:

The Regional Center manages your investment throughout the EB-5 process. It is important to thoroughly vet the Regional Center by asking in-depth questions about prospective projects and the Regional Center’s track record, and validating the information with our advisor and attorney. As your EB-5 advisor, I can analyze and compare Regional Centers and their sponsored projects so you can select the best fit for your immigration and investment goals.

If you choose the EB-5 Direct route, you will not work with a Regional Center and instead will require additional service providers to complete a comprehensive petition. These include:

4. Business Plan Writer:

The business plan is a crucial aspect of the I-526 petition as it is the document that USCIS uses to determine whether the proposed business will meet the job creation requirements. If you are pursuing an EB-5 visa through the Regional Center route, the associated Regional Center will develop a business plan for each sponsored project that is USCIS compliant, as well as an economic report that projects indirect and direct job creation using approved methodologies. If you are pursuing the Direct EB-5 route, you must furnish your own business plan for the I-526 petition. EB-5 business plans must meet specific criteria set forth by USCIS and are more complex than standard business plans. It’s important to work with a business plan writer that has extensive experience in the EB-5 industry and a successful track record of approvals with USCIS. As your EB-5 advisor, I can connect you with the industry’s leading plan writers.

5. Economist:

Economists develop Economic Impact Reports and can also conduct analyses of project locations to determine whether they are Targeted Employment Areas and, thus, qualify for the lower investment amount.

Economic Impact Reports are typically only used for Regional Center projects, as they analyze direct as well as indirect and induced job creation (the latter of which can only be counted under the Regional Center model). A comprehensive business plan (complete with direct job projections backed by cited industry benchmarks and market data) is sufficient for Direct EB-5 projects.

In the Direct EB-5 route, an economist is needed to conduct an analysis of a project’s location to ensure that it qualifies as a TEA. New regulations that went into effect at the end of November 2019 changed the definition of a TEA, making certain locations more difficult to qualify. An economist can run an analysis of unemployment and labor force data to determine whether a location does or does not qualify. This is important during the project planning process and is also documentation that must be submitted with an I-526 application.

6. Securities Attorney:

A securities attorney can develop operating agreements and company formation documents for new ventures. He or she would also be key in assembling private placement memorandums and offering documents for ventures that are raising capital.

Regardless of the route you plan to take to obtain your EB-5 visa, I can put together the right team to handle your case.

How Long Does it Take to Get My Green Card After Making My Investment?

While timelines can vary wildly, USCIS is currently taking two on average to adjudicate an I-526 petition. Contact us and we can provide an estimated timeline based on your specific case.

 

What is a Conditional Green Card?

The conditional green card (CGC) is issued after USCIS approves your I-526 petition and you have completed your consular interview abroad or after you have an adjustment of status approved. The CGC is valid for two years from issue and the holder is entitled to all the rights and benefits of a permanent resident. The only difference between a conditional green card and a green card is that the CGC is valid for two years only. Within 90 days before the end of the two years, you need to file form I-829 to remove the conditions on your green card. At this stage, USCIS will check whether the investment has been at risk for at least two years and that a minimum of 10 jobs have been created as a result of the investment.

Can I Work and Travel With a Conditional Green Card?

Yes, conditional green card holders can do everything that a permanent resident is entitled to do. There are no limitations apart from timely filing the I-829 form before the end of the two year anniversary of the issuance of the conditional green card.

What is the Timeline for Removal of Conditions?

Conditional green card holders can apply for a permanent green card by filing Form I-829 90 days before the conditional green card expires (i.e. 21 months after receiving your CGC). USCIS’s current processing time for form I-829 is approximately two years. However, filing the I-829 gets you an automatic 24-month extension of your CGC. Furthermore, you may visit a USCIS service center and get a I-551 stamped on your passport extending your CGC status while the I-829 is being adjudicated by USCIS.

What Can I Do to Prepare to Apply for the EB-5 Visa?

In preparation for your investment, you should focus on two important aspects of the process:

1. Finding a good, reputable project with a proven track record to invest in; and

2. Gathering the USD $800,000 (or $1.05 million for projects not in a Rural or TEA) prior to investment and ensuring the source of your investment funds is properly documented. Your immigration attorney will assist with this.

What Qualifies as a Good EB-5 Project?

In order to qualify as an EB-5investment, the investor’s funds must be “At-Risk”. As such, there can be no guarantee of a return on investment. But this does not mean that an EB-5 investor must take on unnecessary risk. Working with an experienced advisor can help mitigate that risk.

Key considerations for identifying a solid EB-5 project include:

Project Details:

A project should have a detailed and credible business plan that investors can use to evaluate the fundamentals of the project.

Regional Center and Developer Track Record:

Investors should look at the background of the Regional Center and whether it has sponsored any successful EB-5 projects. Similar scrutiny should be applied to the principals and developers of the chosen project.

Capital Stack and Financial Strength:

When conducting due diligence, investors should look into the developer’s debt:equity leverage ratio to see if they are borrowing excessively to finance the project. Ideally, EB-5 capital should be paired with both developer equity and financing to form a strong capital stack for the project Investors should ask the following question: Can the project survive a recession and still have the ability to pay back the investor their $800,000 at the end of the term?

What Can I Do to Prepare to Apply for the EB-5 Visa?

In preparation for your investment, you should focus on two important aspects of the process:

1. Finding a good, reputable project with a proven track record to invest in; and

2. Gathering the USD $800,000 (or $1.05 million for projects not in a Rural/TEA) prior to investment and ensuring the source of your investment funds is properly documented. Your immigration attorney will assist with this.

Do I Need an Immigration Attorney to File My EB-5 Visa?

We strongly recommend that investors work with an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney to ensure a successful process. EB-5 regulations stipulate that the investor must provide evidence that the funds invested into the project are lawfully sourced. This means that the investor must submit a detailed narrative that is in compliance with immigration regulations and precedent case decisions. Experienced EB-5 immigration attorneys are instrumental in documenting and cataloging the source of funds as well as submitting the appropriate documentation and petitions in each of the three steps to permanent residency:

1. Filing of the I-526 with source of funds;

2. After 526 approval, completing the consular or adjustment of status process; and

3. I-829 filing to remove conditions.

What are Some Risks Related to the EB-5 program?

Financial Risk: Because the EB-5 regulations require funds to be at risk, you could lose some or all of your investment. This risk can be mitigated with an experienced advisor.

Timeline Risk: Not only the investor, but his/her spouse and minor dependents under the age of 21 receive a green card through the EB-5 program. But, due to slow processing times and visa backlogs in some countries, your minor dependents may age out. Planning with an advisor and immigration attorney mitigates this risk.

What is an Accredited Investor?

Many Regional Centers will only allow investors that are accredited investors. In the United States, to be considered an accredited investor, you must have the following characteristics (prior to investing):

Have a net worth of at least USD $1,000,000, excluding the value of your primary residence; OR
Have an income of at least USD $200,000 each year for the last two years (or USD $300,000 combined income if married) and have a reasonable expectation of the same income level in current year.

What is an Exemplar Project and What are Some Benefits of These Projects?

Some Regional Center projects apply for what is called an Exemplar Approval. Exemplar Approval means that USCIS has reviewed all of the project documents and job creation methodologies and has pre-approved the project for a speedier adjudication. As such, investors who invest in exemplar projects face far less scrutiny as their project documents have already been analyzed and approved by USCIS.

How Many EB-5 Visas are Available?

The EB-5 category allocates 10,000 visas/green cards per fiscal year. The EB-5 rules institutes a per-country limit for EB-5 visas to ensure that no country gets more than its share. The per-country limit is set at approximately seven percent (7%) of all visas, or an estimated 700 per country. Whatever visas are not used by a particular country are reassigned to countries with higher demand. Since 2015, the demand for EB-5 visas has exceeded supply, and demand from some countries has been higher than others. This has created a backlog for certain countries, namely China and Vietnam. This means that for any given fiscal year, more people are applying for visas than there are visas available for that country, and investors who have submitted form I-526 and received approval are essentially waiting in line for a visa to become available. Countries that have a backlog are in “retrogression” while those countries that are not expected to exceed the number of allocated visas in a given year are “current.”

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