What is the EB-5 Program?
EB-5 is an immigrant visa category that allows investors and their immediate family members to become permanent residents, i.e., green card holders, through a minimum investment of $500,000.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE EB-5 GREEN CARD PROCESS
Professional Counsel for Foreign Investors
Los Angeles and California are welcoming and supportive of investors and entrepreneurs (think of all the tech companies that had their start in Silicon Valley). If you’re a foreign-born national or citizen who wants to make an investment in the United States while obtaining your green card, the EB-5 visa may be the solution for you. The EB-5 immigration visa category allows investors and their immediate family members to become green card holders by making a minimum qualifying investment of $500,000.
Important Things to Know About How the EB-5 Program Works
- You have to have at least $500,000 that you will use to make an investment in the United States.
- You must invest first, then apply for the immigration benefit afterward. Typically, the easiest way to make an investment is to invest in a designated regional center.
- It’s important to choose the right regional center. Not all regional centers can show that they have a track record of helping investors obtain a permanent green card.
- After the investment has been made, you can file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- After you’ve made the investment, you have to leave the money invested for several years. The green card you get if your EB-5 application is successful is a 2-year conditional green card. At the end of those two years, you’ll have remove the conditions on your green card in order to get a permanent, or 10-year, green card. You do this by filing Form I-829, Petition for Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, with USCIS. To get this permanent green card application approved, you must be able to show USCIS that your money is still invested in the regional center.
- You’ll also need to prove that there was a lawful source for the money you used for your investment. To do this, you’ll have to provide immigration with a lot of personal and business financial documentation.
- The goal with the EB-5 program isn’t to make a profit, it’s to get a green card.
- There’s financial risk involved in this process, so you should meet with an independent investment advisor who can help you evaluate this risk.
Qualifying Investments Must Support an EB-5 Visa Application
The qualifying investment of at least $500,000 is an integral part of the EB-5 program. The applicant can make the investment in one of two ways:
- Direct investment: The first method is through “direct investment.” This is appropriate for foreign investors who want to run a business in the United States and have a lot of expertise in doing so. Direct investment often involves a more complicated and challenging approval process what’s required for a regional center, but it may be the more appropriate method depending on your goals.
- Regional Center: The second method is by making an investment in a designated regional center. More than 90 percent of all EB-5 visa applicants make their investments through these designated centers. A regional center is essentially a passive investment where main purpose is to meet the investment requirement of those seeking an EB-5 visa. The regional center application process for EB-5 applicants is simpler. Some regional centers have a better history of supporting EB-5 applications that are eventually approved, so it is important to choose a Regional Center wisely.
Removing the Conditions on Your Residency
If your EB-5 application is successful, you’ll be granted a conditional green card that’s valid for 2 years. In the 90 days before this conditional green card expires, you’ll need to apply to have the conditions on this green card removed. The form you’ll need to file is called Form I-829, Petition By Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. In order for this petition to be granted, the applicant has to prove that his or her initial EB-5 investment was made and sustained throughout the two-year period and can has created (or is expected to create in a reasonable amount of time) at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying employees. If this application to remove the conditions on your residency is approved, you’ll be granted a green card that’s valid for 10 years.
Risks Associated with the EB-5 Program
The EB-5 program is not without its risks. There’s no guarantee that your investment will result in your EB-5 application being approved. Similarly, there is no guarantee that the investment will produce a certain return (such investments would not be considered qualifying under the EB-5 program).
Before making this type of investment and starting the EB-5 process, consult with an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney. Some individuals are not able to obtain a green card through the EB-5 program because they have immigration circumstances or criminal circumstances that make them ineligible to adjust their status. For example, if you have certain criminal convictions on your record, previously entered the United States without inspection, were previously ordered deported, or certain health problems, you may not be able to benefit from this program.
How a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney Can Help
The EB-5 visa program can be confusing and daunting for foreign investors. The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. are here to help you sort through the requirements and assist you in determining if this is the right option for you. Although no immigration attorney can guarantee results and every person’s situation is different, our attorneys have helped numerous individuals obtain their EB-5 visas. Call us today at (213) 262-2000 or complete our online contact form so we can set up a time to discuss the best legal strategy to meet your goals.