The Complete Guide To EB-5 Visas

WRITTEN BY

EB-5 Insider Team

A group of professionals with years of experience helping people immigrate to the US

Note: This article is for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal advice or selling securities. The articles and content on this site are of a general informational nature only and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

The American Dream draws over 50 million international visitors to the United States annually. Many of them aspire to call the United States their home. Initiatives like the EB-5 immigrant investor program provide one of the most efficient ways for entrepreneurs to achieve permanent resident status for themselves and their families.

An EB-5 investment visa will allow you to obtain permanent U.S. green cards for you, your spouse, and all unmarried children under 21 with one investment of $800,000 (USD). It’s not just a green card program. EB-5 visa holders can apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of legal residency.

We’re covering everything you need to know about the EB-5 investment visa, from how to apply to the benefits of the program, and how EB-5 Insider can streamline your path to American citizenship.

Summary

  • An EB-5 investment visa is one of the fastest ways to secure permanent residency status for you, your spouse, and any unmarried children under 21 in the United States.
  • Investments of at least $800,000 are required and provide a path to U.S. citizenship after five years of residency.

What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?

Congress created the EB-5 visa program in 1990 to help stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging job creation and capital investment from foreign investors.

The ‘Immigrant Investor Program’ (also known as the Regional Center Program) was launched in 1992. It set aside EB-5 visas for immigrants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with USCIS-approved regional centers to promote economic growth.

Under the EB-5 immigrant investor program, immigrants are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence with their spouse and any unmarried children under 21 if they:

  • Make the necessary investment of at least $800,000 into a commercial enterprise.
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 full-time permanent jobs for qualified workers.

The first step to securing an EB-5 visa with a $800,000 investment is to choose a Regional Center to work with. These centers are vetted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), with over 600 located throughout the country. In Q1 of FY2024, over 600 EB-5 investors filed their I-525 petitions, representing over $490 million in EB-5 investments.

Capital Investment for EB-5 Visas

EB-5 visa applicants must invest in a U.S. company established after November 29th, 1990. If the company existed before this date, the investment must create at least a 40% expansion in its overall worth or number of employees. The business must be for-profit and either a corporation, joint venture, business trust, sole proprietorship, holding company, or partnership.

Under the USCIS guidelines, the minimum investment required for an EB-5 visa is either $800,000 or $1,050,000. The most affordable way to access an EB-5 visa is by making a $800,000 investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).

A TEA is a rural area, or an area identified as having a high level of unemployment, helping to direct foreign investment to parts of the United States most in need of support. TEAs have at least 150% of the U.S. standard unemployment rate.

Capital investment from foreign investors can come in the form of cash, equipment, inventory, property, or secured debt.

Why EB-5 Visas are Attractive to Foreign Investors

EB-5 visas appeal to foreign investors by providing a path to permanent residency and citizenship for those with the financial capacity to invest at least $800,000. This visa is designed to boost the U.S. economy by channeling foreign investment to targeted employment areas and supporting job creation.

Investors and their immediate family members can move to the United States immediately after their I-526 application is approved. You’ll receive two-year conditional green cards and can live, work, attend school, or open a business anywhere in the United States.

While moving to the United States is the main appeal, there are other benefits to the EB-5 visa. While some EB-5 Regional Center projects pose a risk for your capital, many have the potential to be viable and provide a long-term return on your investment. Do your due diligence and explore different investment options to find the right one that works for your finances.

Freedom to travel is another reason why EB-5 visas are attractive to foreign investors. Individuals with a permanent U.S. green card have the same travel and passport access as other U.S. citizens. There are currently 189 destinations globally that green card holders can travel to visa-free. The United States currently ranks sixth on the Henley & Partners Passport Index.

How to Apply for EB-5 Investment Visas

It typically takes up to two months to complete an I-526 petition. However, depending on your situation, this can take up to eight months. The timeline depends on how the investor decides what to invest in and how they conduct their due diligence. Investors will have to collect and provide documentation demonstrating their funding source to show they have the resources to make the necessary $800,000 investment.

Most of this time will be spent preparing documentation and ensuring it meets USCIS requirements. Taking the time to research and review your application will help streamline the process and prevent delays.

The processing time for an EB-5 visa will vary, with a current estimated timeframe of 21 to 27 months. Before the pandemic, the USCIS had an average processing time of just over 14 months for EB-5 visas. The USCIS Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) assesses visa availability monthly by reviewing the Department of State’s Monthly Visa Bulletin.

The Application Process for an EB-5 Investor Visa

1. Submit Form I-526E

The process to obtain an EB-5 investor visa starts with submitting a Form I-526E. This step is where you’ll show the evidence that you meet the requirements of the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

You can apply for Form I-526E to show that you have invested or are actively investing in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) that will benefit the U.S. economy by creating full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. citizens.

The Form I-526E will show that:

  • The individual has invested in a for-profit venture that meets the requirements of the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
  • If the investment is $800,000, the area in which it is made qualifies as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
  • The applicant will be involved in the business, and the venture will create at least 10 new jobs.
  • If the individual invests in a troubled business, the number of employees will not fall below the pre-investment levels for at least two years after the petition.

Form I-526E is a self-petitioning visa, meaning you can complete it yourself or hire a representative to do so. You’ll need to provide evidence of the investment, business resignation records, tax returns, and evidence of other sources of capital.

2. Submit a Green Card Application/DS-260 Application

When your Form I-526E is approved, the next step is to apply for a green card with a DS-260 if you’re living abroad. This process will involve consulate processing and includes a medical exam. You’ll need to make an appointment at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your country of residence, where you’ll attend an interview.

If your DS-260 application is successful, you and any family members associated with it will receive a conditional green card that is valid for two years.

3. Remove Conditions/Form I-829

After 2 years, a foreign investor will apply to remove the conditions of the green card by filing a Form I-829 within 90 days of its expiration date. This process requires you to show documentation relating to the status of the commercial enterprise you originally invested in, currently the number of employees, the total capital invested, and the region where the business is located.

If the green card conditions are removed, applicants will be given lawful permanent residency for 10 years before renewing their green card.

How Much is an EB-5 Investment Visa?

An EB-5 visa requires a minimum investment of $800,000 for projects in rural areas and those with high unemployment, designated as ‘Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)’. Alternatively, the minimum investment is $1,050,00 for projects and businesses that do not fall into this category.

It’s crucial to budget for the administrative fees involved with the EB-5 investment visa application. These can range from $60,000 to $100,000 throughout the application process. In addition, you will likely have attorney fees, as well.

There are specific costs involved with an EB-5 visa:

  • Form 1-526 fee of $11,160.
  • Consular processing fee of $345.
  • The cost of a medical exam varies by country.

Read our in-depth guide on ‘How Much are EB-5 Filing Fees?’ to help you budget for your application process.

Most EB-5 visa applicants will choose to invest in TEA areas with the lower $800,000 investment threshold. Non-TEA projects have a higher investment threshold of $1,050,00 but cater to foreign investors with different risk tolerance and investment goals. Our team will help you find the right EB-5 project for your financial position and long-term goals.

Read more: The Different Types of EB-5 Projects

We recommend planning for an additional $100,000 – $160,000 on top of the investment itself.

The Benefits of an EB-5 Investment Visa

The EB-5 investor visa program offers a myriad of benefits for foreigners looking to move to America permanently. Eligible investors can utilize the EB-5 visa to become permanent residents of the United States with a path to U.S. citizenship, enjoy visa-free travel to 189 countries, and access the U.S. healthcare and education systems.

EB-5 visa holders can work or start their own businesses anywhere in the United States, including its territories. After five years of residency, they can apply for U.S. citizenship.

One of the major perks of the EB-5 investment visa is applicants can secure a green card for themselves, their spouse, and any unmarried children under 21. This benefit is lucrative as green card holders attend U.S. schools for the same cost as U.S. citizens, including top-tier schools and Ivy League universities.
The United States remains one of the most desirable countries to work, study, and live in. The EB-5 visa has one of the fewest application requirements, with no specific language proficiency or business experience necessary, so long as the investor has the necessary funding.

Is an EB-5 Investment Visa Right for You?

The EB-5 visa is ideal for foreign immigrants with the financial capability to invest at least $800,000 into a commercial enterprise project. After the applicant receives their green card, the invested funds must remain in the project for at least three to seven years, depending on the specific project.

An EB-5 visa is ideal for those who can afford to make a substantial investment in the U.S. economy and want to streamline the immigration process with a path to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The conditional green card period ends after two years, with the conditions removed upon review.

If you’re interested in immigrating to the United States and have a net worth of more than $1 million with proof that your funds have come from a legal source, you’re an ideal candidate for an EB-5 investment visa.

Permanent residents with a green card can settle anywhere in the United States and enjoy visa-free travel to 189 countries. The EB-5 investment visa is ideal for foreign immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship as you’ll be eligible to apply after five years of living continuously in the United States. You must submit documentation showing that you have been physically in the USA for at least 30 months out of the last five years before filing for citizenship. Applicants must be able to speak, read, and write in basic English and pass a civics test to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Read more: How to Choose the Right EB-5 Attorney

Simplify Your Path to U.S. Residency with EB-5 Insider

At EB-5 Insider, we work with clients to simplify their path to becoming U.S. residents. The fastest route for foreigners to receive U.S. Citizenship is through investment and programs like the EB-5 visa.

Take the first steps to becoming a U.S. citizen through investment today with EB-5 Insider. Get started here or contact our team for more information on navigating the EB-5 investment visa process.

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Anil Gupta
Anil Gupta
19 days ago

This is super helpful, I have been looking for a thorough guide for pursuing an Eb-5 visa, i reached out via the contact page. Thank you so much for this.