What is the EB-5 Visa?
The EB-5 program offers a unique path to United States citizenship through investment. By participating in the program, foreign nationals have the opportunity to obtain permanent residency and eventually become a US citizen by making a substantial investment into a qualifying commercial enterprise in the United States.
This can be a new enterprise or an existing one, with the condition that it creates at least ten full-time jobs for American workers. You can invest individually or through regional centers approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to promote economic growth in designated areas.
EB-5 Visa Benefits
- Under just one EB-5 Visa application, your family members (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years) are eligible to receive green cards.
- You can travel to and from the US without a visa, which makes international travel easier.
- There are no employment restrictions, meaning that you and your family members can work in any field. Your jobs do not have to be in the same state as your EB-5 investment.
- If you invest in the Regional Center Program, you don’t need to be involved in the daily operation of the business. This allows you and your family members to pursue your own business interests.
- After five years, you may be eligible for US citizenship. Alternatively, if you do not wish to apply for citizenship, you can replace your Green Card every ten years without going through a review process.
What are the EB-5 Visa Requirements for Investment?
The EB-5 Visa program is open to foreign nationals willing to make a substantial investment in a qualifying commercial enterprise in the United States. This can be a new enterprise or an existing business. You must, with your investment, create at least ten full-time positions for American workers. You will also need to demonstrate the lawful source of your investment funds and meet the program’s financial thresholds.
There are two main paths you can choose: You can invest individually or through Regional Centers.
The individual investment (or direct investment) option is most suitable if your main focus is to establish a new commercial enterprise or continue a commercial business activity in the US. Indeed, it is also beneficial if you want to maintain full control over investments and expect a return on the capital investment. In this case, you must develop a commercial enterprise initially capable of creating ten full-time positions for US citizens or permanent residents.
Regional Center Investment
Investing through a Regional Center may be an excellent option if you are not planning on being involved in the daily operation of the business, want to be mobile in geographical terms, and if the business venture you’re interested in is not capable of creating ten direct full-time positions from the start.
Note: The Regional Center’s investments involve two important entities, namely, the New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) and the Job Creating Entity (JCE). The NCE is where the immigrant will invest, and the JCE is where the NCE invests or loans the EB-5 investment funds to create jobs.
To qualify for the EB-5 Visa 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), the minimum investment is reduced to $800,000.
Targeted Employment Area (TEA)
TEAs are geographic areas designated by state authorities or through approval from the USCIS. TEAs are typically areas with high unemployment rates or located in rural regions. Investing in a TEA allows you to benefit from the lower minimum capital investment threshold.
This option requires you to make an investment of $800,000. For a region to be qualified as a TEA, it should adhere to the following rules:
- The chosen area should either be a rural area or a high-unemployment area.
- An area with a national average unemployment rate of at least 150 percent qualifies as a high-unemployment area.
- For rural TEAs, the chosen area must have a population of fewer than 20,000 and must be outside the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
- Both rural areas and high-unemployment areas require a Job Creating Entity (JCE) to create jobs in the chosen area.
Source of Funds
As an EB-5 investor, your income may have come from different sources. The USCIS thoroughly verifies your source of income to combat money laundering problems. You must provide valid proof of the source of your income and make a strategic decision with your immigration attorney on which source to use for the investment. Also, there should be a lawful path for your investment.
Path of funds is the documentation of how you have acquired the funds and invested the money in the new commercial enterprise in the US.
EB-5 Visa Requirements for Job Creation
The investment must be in an active for-profit business and must result in the creation of ten full-time jobs per EB-5 investor. Of those ten full-time jobs, the project must create at least one direct job and up to nine “indirect” jobs per investor. Indirect jobs are jobs created as a result of the project through external labor to service the project by providing goods and services. These jobs must be calculated according to economic models approved by the immigration service.
When preparing your EB-5 application, it is crucial to 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 (typically, this would entail creating a detailed business plan)
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
- Certified copies of all civil and criminal actions or other legal actions in the last 15 years
- Any other documents to assist USCIS in determining the relationship between the investor and the equity of the investment
The Benefits of Hiring an EB-5 Lawyer
Because of the stringent requirements, the amount of documentation that you need to prepare, and the complexity of the processes involved, embarking on the EB-5 immigrant investor program can be an arduous and significant undertaking. Meawnhile, as the capital invested must be “at risk,” it is important that you do due diligence about your investment. Bearing these factors in mind, hiring an EB-5 Visa lawyer is advisable, as they can provide invaluable expertise and support throughout your investment immigration journey.
From evaluating investment options to guiding you through the I-526 and I-829 petitions, an experienced lawyer can optimize your chances of realizing your American dream and obtaining permanent resident status (also known as getting a Green Card).
Additionally, a specialized lawyer will be able to guide you through the naturalization process toward the citizenship path when you are eligible to apply.
Expertise in immigration law and EB-5 program regulations
EB-5 lawyers specialize in immigration law and possess in-depth knowledge of the program’s intricate regulations. They stay updated with any changes in the law and USCIS policies, ensuring that your application remains compliant and increases the chances of success.
Assistance in evaluating investment options and selecting a regional center
Selecting the right investment project or regional center is crucial for your EB-5 application. An EB-5 lawyer can guide you through the due diligence process, assessing the viability and legitimacy of potential investments and your planned commercial enterprise. Their expertise ensures you make well-informed decisions aligned with USCIS requirements.
Preparation and filing of the I-526 petition
The I-526 petition is the first step in the EB-5 process, and accuracy is paramount. A specialized lawyer will prepare and submit your I-526 petition, ensuring all supporting documents and evidence are thorough and compelling. This reduces the likelihood of delays or USCIS requests for additional information.
Representation during the conditional permanent residency stage
Once the I-526 is approved, you’ll be granted a conditional Green Card. A specialized lawyer will represent you throughout this phase, addressing any USCIS inquiries and ensuring a smooth transition to the United States.
Guidance and support for the I-829 petition to remove conditions
After the conditional period, you must file the I-829 petition to remove conditions and obtain an unconditional Green Card. An EB-5 Visa consultant or immigration attorney can guide you through this critical stage, assisting in assembling the required documentation and presenting a strong case for the successful removal of conditions.
How to Find the Right Lawyer
Researching law firms and attorneys specializing in immigration and EB-5
Conduct thorough research to identify reputable firms or attorneys with expertise in immigration and a specific focus on EB-5 cases. Review the websites, credentials, and affiliations of each law firm you’re considering to gain insights into their experience and dedication to immigration law.
Evaluating the lawyer’s experience, track record, and client testimonials
Examine the lawyer’s track record in handling successful EB-5 cases and their experience with the program. Client testimonials offer valuable feedback on their communication skills, responsiveness, and overall satisfaction with the services provided.
Considering the lawyer’s communication style and accessibility
Clear and effective communication is vital during the visa process. Choose a lawyer who is attentive to your needs, promptly addresses your concerns, and keeps you informed at every stage of the application.
Discussing fees and payment structure
Engage in a candid discussion about the lawyer’s fee structure and payment arrangements. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the costs involved, including any additional expenses related to the application process.
How Global Citizen Solutions EB-5 Lawyers Can Help
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.
- We have a team of immigration lawyers, and immigration advisers specialized in US immigration.
- Our transparent pricing covers all the processes from start to finish, with no hidden costs.
- All data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server. You can be safe knowing that your personal data is treated with the utmost security.
- Global Citizen Solutions provides an all-encompassing solution. Our support can continue even after you receive your visa. We offer additional services such as company incorporation, Trusts, and Foundations formation.
- The BeGlobal Onboarding System® allows you to access the status of your application every step of the way, something that sets us apart from our competitors.
To find out more about immigration opportunities, investment visas, and work visas in the United States, the following articles may be useful:
Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring an EB-5 Visa Lawyer
Can an EB-5 lawyer guarantee the approval of my application?
While an immigration lawyer can significantly increase your chances of success, they cannot guarantee approval. The USCIS (a component of the Department of Homeland Security), retains the discretion to approve or deny applications based on compliance and eligibility.
How long does an EB-5 application take with the assistance of a lawyer?
The application process varies based on multiple factors, including the USCIS processing times and the complexity of the case. With the support of a lawyer, the process is likely to be more efficient and streamlined.
What happens if my EB-5 petition is denied?
If your EB-5 petition is denied, an experienced lawyer can help explore potential remedies, such as filing an appeal or submitting a new petition addressing the USCIS concerns.
What is an EB-5 lawyer?
It is an attorney specializing in immigration law, with expertise in handling EB-5 cases. They assist foreign investors seeking to obtain a US green card through the EB-5 immigrant investor program.
Why would I need an EB-5 lawyer?
Hiring a specialized lawyer is not mandatory, but an EB-5 Visa consultant or immigration attorney can help you navigate the complex EB-5 application process, ensure compliance with USCIS requirements, and present a compelling case for your investment. Their expertise is vital in maximizing your chances of a visa approval.
How much does a lawyer charge for EB-5?
The cost can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience, the complexity of your case, and the services provided. Some immigration attorneys may charge a flat fee, while others use an hourly rate or a combination of both. It’s essential to discuss fees during the initial consultation.
What services does an EB-5 lawyer offer?
A specialized lawyer offers a range of services, including case evaluation, investment option assessment, document preparation, USCIS communication, and representation throughout the application and conditional permanent residence (conditional Green card) stage.
Also, they will have experience with changes of legislation, for example, such as the Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, which opened opportunities for investment leading to job creation in regional centers located in rural TEAs (Targeted Employment Areas).
How can an EB-5 lawyer help me choose the right investment option?
A specialized lawyer can help you evaluate different investment options, providing insights into potential risks and returns. They can also help you assess regional centers, minimum investment requirements, and make the best decisions for your commercial enterprise aligned with your immigration goals.
Can an EB-5 lawyer help me with the regional center selection?
Yes, an EB-5 lawyer can be incredibly helpful when choosing a regional center for your EB-5 investment.
These legal professionals specialize in assessing and guiding investors to select a regional center that aligns with their investment goals.
An EB-5 attorney can conduct thorough due diligence on various regional centers, evaluating their historical performance, reputation, and compliance record. By doing so, they ensure you make an informed decision by choosing a reputable regional center that provides a secure avenue for your investment in the EB-5 program.
How can an EB-5 Visa lawyer assist with the I-526 petition?
An immigration attorney will assist you in preparing and filing the I-526 petition. They ensure all required supporting documents and evidence are included, presenting a persuasive case that meets USCIS criteria for EB-5 approval.
Will an EB-5 Visa lawyer represent me in the conditional permanent residency stage?
Yes, an immigration attorney specialized will represent you during the conditional Green Card stage. They address any USCIS inquiries and help ensure a smooth transition from the I-526 approval to the granting of an unconditional Green Card.
How can I find a reliable EB-5 Visa lawyer?
To find a reliable visa lawyer, research legal firms and immigration attorneys specializing in EB-5 cases. Evaluate the experience, track record, client testimonials, and communication style of each law firm and its lawyers to make an informed choice.
Can an EB-5 Visa lawyer help me with other immigration matters?
Yes, while their primary focus is on EB-5 cases, some specialized lawyers may also assist with other immigration matters, such as family-based petitions, employment-based visas, and adjustment of status applications.
Can an EB-5 Visa lawyer assist me in exploring alternative visa options if I am not eligible for an EB-5 Visa?
Yes, they can assist you in exploring alternative visa options if you are not eligible for an EB-5 Visa.
Immigration lawyers are well-versed in various visa categories and can assess your qualifications, skills, and goals to determine which visa category suits your situation.
They can advise you on other possible visa pathways, such as H-1B, L-1, O-1, or E-2 Visas, based on your specific circumstances and eligibility criteria.
Does Global Citizen Solutions work with EB-5 lawyers?
Yes, Global Citizen Solutions has a team of visa lawyers specialized in immigration, with experience dealing with legal services related to the EB-5 Visa among others.