If you are a Canadian citizen hoping to gain a foothold in the US and obtain permanent residency, the EB-5 Visa might be the path for you.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers Canadian families the opportunity to secure a green card by making a qualified investment that creates jobs in the US economy.
This article will guide you through the process of obtaining an EB-5 Visa, specifically tailored for Canadian nationals.
What is the EB-5 Visa?
The EB-5 Visa program is open to foreign investors who are willing to make a substantial investment into a qualifying commercial enterprise in the United States. The required investment can be into either a new enterprise or an existing enterprise. With your investment, you must create at least ten jobs for United States citizens. You can choose to invest individually or through a designated regional center
US Visas for Canadian Citizens
In addition to the EB-5 Visa, Canadians interested in relocating to the US can consider other visa options, such as the E-2 Nonimmigrant Investment Visa, the H1-B Visa for skilled workers, the F-1 Visa for students, and the L-1 Visa for intracompany transferees. Each visa category has its own requirements and benefits, so it is important to select the one that aligns with your circumstances and your goals.
Why Might a US EB-5 Visa Interest Canadian Citizens?
The US EB-5 Visa offers several significant advantages for Canadian citizens:
• Green Card eligibility: Successful EB-5 investors, along with their immediate family members (spouse and dependent children), receive conditional green cards, allowing them to live, work, and study anywhere in the United States.
• No sponsoring employer: The EB-5 program doesn’t require you to secure a job offer or have a sponsoring employer, unlike some other visa categories.
• Path to citizenship: After maintaining your investment and residency requirements for a specified period, you can apply for United States citizenship.
• Education and healthcare: Access to high-quality education and healthcare systems for you and your family members.
How to Get an EB-5 Visa
This option is most suitable if your main focus is to establish a new commercial enterprise or continue a commercial business activity in the US, maintaining full control over investments and expecting a great return on capital investment. In this case, you must develop a commercial enterprise initially capable of creating ten full-time jobs for US citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Investing through a regional center may be an excellent option if you are not planning to be involved in the daily operation of the business, want to be mobile in geographical terms, and/or if the business venture you’re interested in is not capable of creating jobs for ten direct employees from the start.
To qualify for the EB-5 immigrant investor program, you must invest a minimum amount of capital, which is currently set at $1,050,000. However, if your investment is made in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is typically an area with high unemployment or rural characteristics, defined as such by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the required minimum investment amount is reduced to $800,000.
What to consider before applying
Education opportunities: If you plan to move to the US with your children, research the educational opportunities available, as well as the quality of schools in the region that you plan to invest in.
Job market and employment prospects: Investigate the job market in your chosen location, as securing employment might be a priority for you or your family members.
Investment risk tolerance: Understand the potential risks associated with your chosen investment route, whether through a regional center or direct investment.
Legal and filing fees: Aside from the investment, you will also need to budget for filing fees and legal expenses associated with the application.
Potential risk and reward: Carefully assess the potential risks and rewards of your chosen investment project.
What Are the Financial Costs of an EB-5 Visa?
EB-5 Capital Investment
To qualify for the EB-5 Visa immigrant investor program, you must either make an investment of at least $1,050,000 in a new commercial enterprise, while the minimum investment amount is $800,000 if investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). A TEA is typically an area with a high unemployment rate (150 percent of the national average) or a rural area (with fewer than 20,000 people), defined as such by the USCIS.
Potential risk and reward
Consider the potential risks associated with your investment, as returns are not guaranteed. Conduct thorough due diligence to understand the investment’s viability.
Filing and legal fees
Filing the EB-5 Visa application requires payment of USCIS filing fees. Additionally, hiring an immigration lawyer to guide you through the process incurs legal fees.
US EB-5 Visa 2023 requirements for Canadian citizens
To qualify for the EB-5 Visa, you generally need to meet the following requirements:
Lawful source of funds
Investment: Invest the minimum required capital investment amount in a new commercial enterprise.
Job creation: Your investment must create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying US workers within two years of your admission to the US with conditional permanent resident status.
Lawful source of funds: Demonstrate that the invested funds were lawfully obtained (using documents such as bank statements).
At-risk investment: Your business investment must be at risk for the purpose of generating a return on the capital placed at risk.
A step-by-step guide to applying for the EB-5 immigrant investor program is shown below. For more information on the process, please refer to our EB5 Green Card Process Steps – Ultimate Guide.
- Conduct thorough research: Gather information about the EB-5 program, investment options, and regional centers.
- Choose an investment project and regional center: Select a project that aligns with your investment goals and risk tolerance, and make the investment.
- File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor: Submit your petition to the USCIS, providing evidence of your investment and job creation plans.
- Once Form I-526 is approved, there are two options: If you are already in the US with valid non-immigrant status, apply for an adjustment of status (Form I-485). If you are abroad, apply for an EB-5 Visa at a consulate or embassy (Form DS-260).
- Conditional Green Card: If your petition is approved, you will receive a two-year conditional permanent residency.
- Removal of Conditions: After two years, file an I-829 petition to demonstrate that you have met the program’s requirements.
- Green Card: Upon approval, you will receive a Lawful Permanent Resident Card.
Using an immigration lawyer
Navigating the EB-5 Visa process can be complex, and seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer is highly recommended. A qualified attorney can guide you through the application, assist with investment decisions, and ensure compliance with USCIS requirements.
How long does it take to process an EB-5 Visa for Canadian Citizens?
The processing time for the EB-5 Visa for Canadian citizens can vary depending on factors such as USCIS processing times, the complexity of the case, and the availability of visa numbers.
The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, known as the RIA, offers an opportunity for Canadian investors willing to avoid delays. The RIA introduced three categories of reserved, or set-aside, visas:
- Rural TEA projects
- High-unemployment TEA projects
- Infrastructure projects
Foreign nationals who invest in one of these project categories (before the set-aside visa supply is exhausted) will qualify for a reserved visa and thus be able to avoid cut-off dates — even if their country has a backlog of EB-5 applications.
While high-unemployment TEA and infrastructure projects receive only 10 percent and 2 percent of the total EB-5 Visa supply, respectively, rural TEA projects get 20 percent. Since the supply of set-aside rural TEA visas is larger than the other two categories, rural TEA projects can be an excellent opportunity for a foreign investor.
As an investor, it’s worth noting the importance of assessing rural TEA investment opportunities to determine whether they can succeed financially, create the required jobs, and ultimately result in green cards and a return on your capital.
Path to permanent residence and citizenship
Conditional Green Card and removal of conditions on permanent residence
Upon approval of your EB-5 petition, you will initially receive a conditional green card, which is valid for two years. To remove the conditions on your permanent residency, you must demonstrate that you have met the program’s requirements, primarily the direct investment and job creation criteria. You do that by filing Form I-829. Once Form I-829 is approved, the conditions are removed, and you will receive a permanent document.
Benefits of permanent resident status
You will have the right to live and work anywhere in the United States, as well as enjoy some of the same legal protections and opportunities as US citizens. When applying, you can include your spouse and children in your green card.
Additionally, permanent residents can sponsor certain family members for their own green cards, opening doors for family reunification.
Differences between permanent residence and citizenship
While permanent residency grants you many privileges, it’s important to note that it is distinct from citizenship. Citizenship grants you the right to vote, hold certain public offices, and obtain a US passport. However, residents can apply for citizenship by naturalization after meeting specific residency requirements, such as residing continuously in the US for a certain number of years.
EB-5 program timeline
The timeline for the EB-5 process can vary depending on various factors, including US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times and the complexity of the investment project. Generally, it can take between 18 to 36 months to receive the conditional green card and an additional 24 months to obtain the permanent document.
How do I choose a regional center?
When selecting a regional center, it is crucial to conduct thorough due diligence. Research the track record of the regional center, evaluate their investment projects, and consider their experience in the industry. Additionally, consult with professionals, such as immigration attorneys and financial advisors, who can provide guidance in choosing a reputable regional center.
Fees and costs
Some of the costs involved in participating in the EB-5 immigrant investor program are:
- Form I-526: $3,675
- If applying from outside the US, an additional $345 visa application processing fee per person
- Medical exam: Cost varies depending on the country
- Form I-485 (if applying from within the US): $1140
- Biometrics: $85 per person for each member of the family
- Form DS-260 (if applying from outside the US): $325
- If you apply through a regional center, the center will charge an EB-5 Visa administration fee to manage the project. The price depends on the regional center and project and typically ranges from $50,000 to $70,000.
After you complete the two years of the conditional green card:
- Removal of conditions application (Form I-829): $3,750
Also, consider extra costs, such as translation of documents, lawyers, travel expenses, and so on. Please refer to our article All You Need To Know About the EB5 Visa Costs for more information about the costs involved.
As an EB-5 investor, you should consult with a qualified tax professional to understand your tax obligations. Generally, you will be subject to federal, state, and local taxes on your worldwide income. However, the US tax system offers various deductions and credits that can help optimize your tax situation.
When preparing your EB-5 application, it is crucial that you compile all the required documentation. The specific documents may vary depending on your circumstances, but generally you will need:
- Passport and identification documents
- Evidence of the lawful source of funds for the investment
- Business and financial documents related to the investment project
- Tax returns and financial statements
- Evidence of plans for the creation of jobs and economic impact
If you are making the investment through a regional center, the center will provide the documentation regarding the undertaking, the job creation methodology, and the project itself. You will need to submit the documents that demonstrate the legality of the source of funds, such as:
- Income tax returns filed, anywhere in the world, relating to the last five years
- Overseas business registration documents
- Any documents identifying the sources of capital (such as business licenses, tax returns, and bank statements)
- Certified copies of all civil and criminal actions or other legal actions in the last 15 years
- Any other documents to assist UCSIS in determining the relationship between the investor and the equity of the investment
Like any investment, the EB-5 program carries inherent risks. It is essential to carefully assess the potential risks associated with the project, such as market conditions, construction delays, and changes in government regulations. While EB-5 investments should be at risk, these risks can be mitigated. Foreign investors can recoup their direct investment by filing their petition to remove the conditions on their two-year conditional green card depending on the terms of the agreement with the Regional Center, as long as the regional center project has been successful.
How Global Citizen Solutions Can Help with Your EB-5 Visa Application
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique investment migration consultancy firm focused on finding the right residency or citizenship by investment program for individuals wishing to secure their future and become global citizens. Our multilingual team has extensive experience in US Visas and a track record of successful applications. We guide individuals and families from start to finish, providing expert advice considering freedom, mobility, taxation, and security.
We have helped hundreds of clients from 35+ countries in all the top Residency by Investment and Citizenship by Investment programs. With an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the area, we provide our clients with solid guidance.
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Frequently Asked Questions about the USA EB-5 Visa:
What is the EB-5 immigrant investor program?
Congress created the EB-5 immigrant investor program in 1990, with the idea of promoting economic growth, particularly in rural locations and high unemployment (unemployment rate of at least 150 percent of the national average unemployment rate), through capital investment and the creation of jobs. The EB-5 Investment Visa gives applicants (immigrant investors) and their family members the right to live permanently in the United States in return for a qualifying investment.
There is also the possibility of receiving your contribution back after the investment project is completed. The US benefits from foreign investments through economic growth in rural areas (Target Employment Areas), plus the program is focused on creating jobs for US citizens and residents.
How long does it take to get the EB-5 Visa?
According to USCIS processing estimates in June 2023, the EB-5 visa processing time for I-526 immigrant petitions ranges between 52 and 80 months, and I-485 applications take around 22 months.
Is there a possibility of expedited processing for Canadian EB-5 investors?
While there is no official expedited processing for EB-5 investors based on their nationality, investing in rural TEAs may lead to faster outcomes, thanks to the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, known as the RIA, which reserved 20 percent of the visas available supply to this category.
What are some common reasons for the denial of EB-5 Visa applications?
Common reasons for denial can include failure to meet the investment and job creation requirements, inability to demonstrate a lawful source of funds, incomplete or inaccurate documentation, and changes in project circumstances.
What is an EB-5 investment?
An EB-5 investment is an immigrant US investor visa program that allows immigrant investors to gain a permanent green card in return for a qualifying investment and the creation of ten jobs. Foreign investments can create jobs and promote economic development in rural areas and high-unemployment areas (Target Employment Areas).
How much do I need to invest to get the EB-5 Visa?
To be eligible for the US EB5, you must make a lawful capital investment in a government-approved enterprise that amounts to at least $1,050,000 (or an $800,000 investment if investing in Targeted Employment Areas). In addition to this, you will need to create or save ten permanent full-time jobs for US workers, have a clean criminal record, be in good health, and live six months per year in the USA.
What are the EB-5 investment options?
To qualify for the US EB-5, you must choose one of the following options:
- Invest at least $800,000 in a government-approved program in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) – a rural area or an area with a high unemployment rate.
- Make a direct investment of at least $1,050,000 outside a TEA.
Can I buy US citizenship?
No, you cannot buy US citizenship. The EB5 Visa Immigrant Investor Program is not a citizenship-by-investment scheme. This means you cannot get citizenship directly. However, you can apply for a US passport after being a permanent resident for five years.
So, a green card holder can obtain citizenship by naturalization, provided all requirements are met beforehand.
In essence, the EB5 Visa provides permanent US residency and citizenship by naturalization when a person invests an EB5 minimum investment of $1,050,000 (or $800,000 if investing in Targeted Employment Areas). In addition to this, you will need to create or save ten permanent full-time jobs for US workers, have a clean criminal record, be in good health, and live six months per year in the USA.
How can I get a working visa for the USA?
If you are an immigrant investor or expat, other US green card visas could also be a good option for you if you are not looking to secure residency by investment. Each will have different criteria, such as the work visa USA requirements where you will need to have a job offer in the USA, an approved petition by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and a Labor certification that has been approved by the Department of Labor.
Can my family accompany me on the EB-5 Visa?
Yes, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can accompany you on your EB-5 Visa. They can also apply for green cards as your dependents.
How does the EB-5 program work?
An EB-5 investment visa can be obtained through the immigrant investor visa program. The program allows foreign investors to gain a permanent green card in return for investment and the creation of ten jobs. Meanwhile, the US benefits from economic development and job creation, particularly focused on high unemployment areas.
Will I get my EB-5 investment back?
As an EB-5 Visa immigrant investor, you may be able to get the full or part of your investment back when the investment cycle has been completed. Many regional centers include the terms and conditions of the exit procedures in place in the investment agreement or in other EB5 Visa documents.
What is the regional center program?
An EB5 Regional Center is an entity that sets aside EB5 Visas for foreign investors and is designated by immigration services USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to foster economic development and job creation in high-unemployment areas. After the previous Regional Center program was suspended, the EB5 Reform and Integrity Act was passed in March 2022, through which the Regional Center program was reauthorized for five years, through to September 2027. This allows investors to invest in a regional center.
Can I invest in a project outside of my chosen regional center?
Yes, under the EB5 US Immigrant Investor Program, you can invest in a project outside of your chosen regional center. This is known as a direct investment. However, if you invest directly, you will need to manage the day-to-day operations of the business and ensure job creation on your own.