The EB-5 Visa program, designed for immigrant investors, provides a route to US permanent residency through investments made within the United States in exchange for a green card. By participating in the EB-5 program, you have the opportunity to obtain permanent residency and eventually become a US citizen, by investing directly in a job-creating commercial enterprise or investing through regional centers approved by USCIS to promote economic growth in designated areas.
In this EB-5 Visa US guide, you will learn about:
- Benefits of applying for the EB-5 Visa
- How to qualify for the visa program
- Investment routes to take
- And much more
Benefits of Becoming an EB-5 Immigrant Investor
Path to US citizenship
Freedom to travel to and from the US
Green cards for the whole family
No employment restrictions
No daily management of investment
- Under just one EB-5 application, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years are all 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 can work in any field. Your job does 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. It allows you 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.
EB-5 Visa US Eligibility Requirements
The EB-5 program is open to foreign nationals who are willing to make a substantial investment into a qualifying commercial enterprise in the United States. This can be a new enterprise or an existing one. You must, with your investment, create at least ten full-time jobs for American workers.
While there are no specific education or language requirements, you must be able 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.
This option is more suited if your main focus is to establish a new commercial enterprise or continue a commercial business activity in the US, you want to maintain full control over investments, and expect a great return on your invested capital. In this case, you must develop a commercial enterprise initially capable of creating ten full-time jobs for US citizens and permanent residents.
Investing through a regional center may be an excellent option if you plan not to be 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 jobs from the start.
To qualify for the EB-5 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 an area with high unemployment or rural characteristics, the minimum investment is reduced to $800,000.
Ten full-time jobs requirement
In addition, the investment must be in an active for-profit business and must result in the creation of 10 full-time jobs per EB-5 investor. For each investor, the project must create at least one direct job and up to nine “indirect” jobs. “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. For example, construction jobs that last less than two years can satisfy only 75 percent of estimated indirect jobs.
What is a Targeted Employment Area?
Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) are geographic areas designated by state authorities or through approval from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (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.
Regional centers are private or public economic entities designated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to promote growth and job creation in specific regions. Investing through a regional center offers certain advantages, such as the ability to count both direct and indirect creation of jobs towards the program’s requirements. Regional centers are multiplying and have become the predominant vehicle for EB-5 capital investment. There were 640 approved regional centers in April 2023.
How to 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.
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 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.
Step-by-step Guide to the EB-5 Process
1. Research your options
2. Select a eligible EB-5 project and invest
3. File the petition
4. Apply for visa or adjustment of status
5. Receive a conditional green card
6. Apply for removal of conditions
7. Receive your permanent green card
- 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 an I-526 petition: 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 in some 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 permanent green card.
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 residence
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 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.
Fees and costs
Some of the costs involved in participating in the EB-5 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
- Form DS-260 (if applying from outside the US): $325
- Biometrics: $85 per person
- 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
- Biometrics: $85 for each member of the family.
Also, consider extra costs, such as translation of documents, lawyers, travel expenses, and so on.
Changes in legislation
On 11 March 2022, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act was signed into law, bringing changes to the program. The reform allows for further deployment of investment capital anywhere in the United States or its territories. Therefore, including for petitions filed pre-enactment, further deployment is not required within the same regional center or within any regional center’s geographic area.
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 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
- 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.
As an EB-5 investor, you should consult with a qualified tax professional to understand your tax obligations and assist you with your tax planning. 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.
Comparison with other US visas
Compared to other US visas, the EB-5 program offers distinct advantages. Unlike non-immigrant visas, such as the H-1B or E-2 Visas, the EB-5 program provides a direct path to permanent residency and eventually citizenship. Additionally, the EB-5 program does not require a sponsor or employer, providing you with greater independence and flexibility.
Why work with Global Citizen Solutions for your EB-5 Visa application?
If you think the EB-5 Visa may be the right option for you, or if you’d like to know more about other US visa options, don’t hesitate to contact us and book a complimentary 30-minute call with one of our experts.
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. With offices in Portugal, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Brazil, our multilingual team guides 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 team has never had a case rejected. Our 100 percent approval rate sets us apart from our competitors and guarantees that you can expect a successful application.
- Our transparent pricing covers all the processes from opening your bank account, document certification, and legal due diligence to investment and submission. As there is one fee for the entire process, you can be confident that you will not face any hidden costs later.
- 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 passport. 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:
- What is the best US Investor Visa to apply for?
- EB-1 Green Card US – The Ultimate Guide by Experts
- How to Get a USA Investor Visa
- E-2 Visa USA 2023 – The Ultimate Guide by Experts
- The E2 Visa to Green Card – Step by Step Guide
- E2 Visa Renewal and Extension- A Detailed Guide
- E2 Visa Requirements – A Detailed Guide
- Investment Green Card: The Difference Between an EB-5 Visa & E2 Visa
- E2 Visa Renewal and Extension- A Detailed Guide
- EB-5 Green Card Process Steps – Ultimate Guide | GCS
- Investment Green Card: The Difference Between an EB-5 Visa & E2 Visa
- An Expert Guide To The EB-5 Visa Requirements
- All You Need To Know About the EB-5 Visa Costs
- EB-2 NIW – National Interest Waiver US
- O-1 Visa US: The Ultimate Guide by Experts
- How to Get a Green Card: Start Your US Passport Journey
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an EB-5 Visa?
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant investor program that allows foreign nationals to obtain US permanent residency by making a qualifying investment in a commerical enterprise and creating jobs in the United States.
Foreign investors who apply to the EB-5 immigrant investor program don’t have to prove their net worth, but they must make a significant capital investment in the US, contributing to the economic development of the country. The immigration process takes a few years, but it can be a path to US citizenship.
Is my family eligible for the EB-5 Visa program?
Yes, your immediate family, meaning your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can be included in your EB-5 application and obtain derivative benefits.
Who is eligible for the EB-5 Program?
This immigrant investor program is open to foreign nationals, over 18 years old, who are able to make a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise or an existing commercial enterprise in the US, starting at $800,000 (if in a TEA), and creating or preserving at least ten full-time jobs. You can do this by making an individual investment, or investing through a regional center.
What are the EB-5 regional centers?
EB-5 regional centers are entities designated by the USCIS to promote economic growth through investment projects. Investing through one of them allows you to count indirect job creation towards the program’s requirements.
Can you receive your capital back?
While EB-5 investments should be at risk, these can be mitigated. Foreign investors can recoup their 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 project has been successful.
How long is the EB-5 Visa application process?
The EB-5 application process can take several years, from the initial filing to obtaining a permanent green card. The exact timeline can vary based on individual circumstances and external factors.
How many visas are set aside for the EB-5 program applicants?
Congress has set aside an annual quota of 10,000 immigrant visas for the EB-5 program. From this total, 20 percent is destined for investors in rural areas, 10 percent for investors in high-unemployment areas, and 2 percent for infrastructure projects. Annually, the EB-5 Program accounts for less than 1 percent of the visas issued by the United States.
What is a Targeted Employment Area?
A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is a designated geographic area with high unemployment rates or located in a rural region. Investing in a TEA allows you to qualify for the lower minimum investment threshold.
How soon can I move to the US with an EB-5 Visa?
Upon approval of your EB-5 application, you will receive a conditional green card, which allows you to live and work in the United States. The exact timing depends on USCIS processing times and individual circumstances.
What is the EB-5 Visa application processing time?
The processing time for EB-5 visa applications can vary. It is advisable to check the USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney for the most up-to-date processing times.
The USCIS makes efforts to process petitions in a timely manner, but unforeseen circumstances or changes in the immigration landscape can impact processing times.
Do I need to reside in the same location as my investment?
While it is not required to reside in the same location as your investment, you must be actively involved in the management of the investment project or demonstrate your engagement in its policy-making decisions.
Can my children be enrolled in a school while they have Conditional Permanent Resident Status?
Yes, your children, with conditional permanent residency, are eligible to attend school in the United States, including primary, secondary, and higher education institutions.
Is the investor free to travel after obtaining conditional permanent resident status?
Yes, as a conditional permanent resident, you have the freedom to travel internationally. However, you must ensure that you maintain your residency requirements and adhere to any necessary travel documentation.
Should I seek assistance with my EB-5 application?
Given the complexities of the EB-5 program, seeking professional assistance is highly recommended. Immigration attorneys and experienced advisors can help navigate the process, ensure compliance with program requirements, and increase the chances of a successful application.
Is the EB-5 Visa still available?
Yes, the EB-5 Visa is still available, with the USCIS guaranteeing that immigrant visas will be authorized under the Regional Center Program through September 2027.