There are currently 10,000 immigrant (permanent) visas available per year for foreign investors and their family members who meet certain criteria. The criteria are interpreted very strictly by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The following FAQs will give you more insight in to how foreign investors can obtain a green card through the EB5 visa program and obtain permanent resident status in the United States. Currently, the I-526 waiting time is anywhere from 16 to 30 months. To obtain the current USCIS processing time, please refer to the official USCIS website https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplay.do and click on the "IPO Processing Dates."
EB-5 Investor Frequently Asked Questions
1/13/2017 Updated USCIS announcement
Where is my capital invested?
Your investment purchases a share in a limited partnership in which you become a limited partner.
What is a targeted employment area?
A targeted employment area is either a rural area (i.e., a town with 20,000 or less people and not in a Metropolitan Statistical Area) or a non-urban area that has experienced an unemployment rate that is 150% of the national average.
What is a Regional Center?
USCIS has approved many regional centers. If the investment is made in one of the approved regional centers, the investor will not have to demonstrate the creation of direct jobs of 10 US workers. Indirect employment based upon econometric projection will be considered enough.
Is my investment guaranteed?
No. However this does not mean the investment must be risky but it is without redemption rights. The EB-5 Regulations require that the investment be “at-risk”.
What is the minimum amount of investment required?
For investments in areas other than “targeted employment areas,” the minimum amount of investment is $1.8 million. Investments in “targeted employment areas,” including many approved regional centers; a minimum investment of $900,000 is required.
Must the entire amount of the investment be made at the time of filing an EB-5 petition?
No. The entire amount of the investment need not have been made at the time of filing the petition. However, the investor must prove availability of the funds and an actual legal commitment of the required amount of capital. A mere intention to invest or plans for a future investment where there is no present commitment of the funds will not qualify. However, in practice, the USCIS will frown on application in which the investment is not, at a minimum, in an escrow account.
Must the investor have any specific relationship with the U.S. business in which the investment is made?
The investor need not own any specific percentage of the business, be an officer of the business or be an employee of the business. However, the investor must be engaged in some way in the business, whether through actual day-to-day managerial control, by being a member of the board of directors, by being a limited partner, or the like.
When may an investor exit the investment?
USCIS regulations say that your investment must remain in place until the Removal of Conditions, around three and a half years after the investment. The unwritten rule for Regional Centers is that there cannot be a total redemption before 5 years.
Do all family members get conditional permanent residence status at the same time as the investor?
Yes, the investor, his spouse and unmarried children under 21 (on the date of the I-526 petition filing) can obtain permanent resident status at the same time through a single investment.
What is the timeline of the process?
The I-526 petition is normally reviewed within 16 months while the conditional permanent residence process takes between 16 to 24 months. You can also check the process time on the official Immigrant Investor Program Office (also known as EB-5) website below.
Is the investor free to travel after obtaining conditional permanent resident status?
The investor is free to travel in and out of the United States subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent residents. Specifically, the investor must maintain a residence in the United States and must not be outside the United States for a continuous period of one year or more, unless she has obtained a reentry permit.
What happens if the necessary jobs are not created?
If the necessary jobs are not created, the investor will not be able to obtain removal of conditions on permanent residence and will lose any legal status in the U.S. If there is a change or delay in creating the necessary jobs, the investor may need to file a new I-526 petition and obtain a new two year period of conditional permanent residence status. It may not be necessary to do this if the investor can prove at the time of filing of the I-829 petition that all of the necessary jobs will be created within a “reasonable time.”
What must be proven in order to obtain removal of conditions on permanent residence?
The investment must be proven to be sustained not withdrawn and that the required jobs have been created.
When is it possible to apply for US citizenship?
5 years after obtaining conditional permanent residence status. Applying for citizenship is not compulsory, but you do have the option after this period of time.