The EB-5 Visa Program is an excellent way to earn your U.S. Green Card through real estate investment. If you’re considering the program, it’s important to understand the EB 5 program requirements before diving in.
Read on below to learn the most frequently asked questions and answers for the EB-5 Visa Program.
The Most Frequently Asked Questions for the EB-5 Visa Program
Below you’ll find the FAQs and answers for the EB-5 Program.
Are EB-5 Visas available to anyone from any country on Earth?
Yes, no matter what country you’re from, you are generally eligible to apply for an EB-5 visa. Keep in mind, however, that certain countries have less reliable financial documentation than others, which will increase the level of work required to prove adequate source of funds to the USCIS.
After petition approval, can members of the family interview in different countries?
Yes. The country of origin or where the family has current ties is the standard interview site. If you have a family member in another country, perhaps attending school, the student isn’t required to return to the origin country. Instead, they may adjust their status in the U.S. at the USCIS District Office.
Can I apply if I’ve been rejected by USCIS in the past for another visa?
Rejection in the past does not disqualify you, unless you were rejected due to immigration fraud or something similar. Make sure you disclose all criminal, medical, and U.S. immigration history issues to your lawyer prior to submitting the application.
Can money gifted by a relative be used for an EB-5 investment?
Yes, as long as any applicable gift taxes are paid. In addition, the gift must be an actual «arms-length» transaction, meaning it’s not a ruse. Furthermore, the gifted funds must not be given back after permanent resident status is granted.
Do investors need to be actively involved in the day-to-day activities of Regional Center Projects?
No. According to the USCIS, EB-5 investors are «acting as limited partners in a limited partnership» which conforms to the Uniform Limited Partnership Act. Thus, they are deemed «sufficiently engaged» in their EB-5 project. In other words, the investor is not required to actively participate in either operation or management of the project in order to qualify for their Green Card.
How does the bank escrow account protect me against the risk of losing my money?
The initial investment is placed in an Escrow Bank Account. When an Escrow Bank Account is established, the funds still belong to the investor. The attorney or bank has an agreement with the investor that allows the funds to be released from the account only after the investor’s I-526 petition has been received by the USCIS.
How long must I remain in the United States each year?
The first requirement of any investor after they receive the visa at the United States overseas consulate office is to enter the United States within 180 days of visa issuance from the consulate. The investor must then establish residency in the United States. Evidence of intent to reside includes opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver’s license or social security number, paying state and federal income taxes, and renting or buying a home. The United States resident may work overseas if required based upon the nature of the business or profession. However, all permanent residents must remain in the U.S. for more than 6 months out of each year, or they may be deemed to have abandoned their permanent residency status.
If I want to move to the U.S. and invest in an EB-5 Project with Houston EB5 Regional Center, do I have to live in Texas?
No. The EB-5 visa program allows investors to maintain their Permanent Residency by living anywhere of their choosing within the United States.
Why should I choose the EB-5 Visa Program?
This program is an incredible opportunity for foreign investors looking to earn their Green Card through investment. Not only does it help the investor obtain their Green Card, but it also assists family members, children, and the local community.
Spouses and children can obtain permanent residency and attend school, legally work in the U.S., and even retire anywhere in the United States. The community is stimulated with job creation, economic growth, and improved productivity.
Other benefits include:
- You can live and work anywhere within the U.S.
- You don’t need to purchase or manage a business
- Investment is handled by experienced professionals
- Investment is returned if your application isn’t approved
What is the minimum amount of investment required?
The EB-5 Visa Program requires a minimum investment of at least $500,000 if within a Targeted Employment Area. Otherwise, the minimum investment is $1,000,000 according to EB-5 program requirements.
If my I-526 petition is approved by the USCIS, what is the purpose of the Consulate application and interview, and how soon do I get my Green Card?
Upon approval of your I-526 Petition, you must wait for notification from the US Consulate in your home country to prepare documents for the Visa interview. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the investor and his or her family undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks before conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consulate officer may address these issues as well as information printed on the I-526 application – including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his or her immigrant investment. If the investor and his or her family are in the United States, then you may apply for adjustment of status by filing form I-485 along with supporting documents at the appropriate office of the USCIS.
Do I need to have previous business experience or education?
The investor is not required to have any prior business experience. Likewise, the investor is not required to demonstrate any minimum level of education. The only requirements for the investor are that he or she has the required investment amount from lawfully obtained capital and is able to provide the necessary personal background documentation to the USCIS.
Do I need to speak English fluently?
No, the USCIS does not require you to speak English in order to be eligible for the EB-5 program. However, all documents submitted with your EB-5 application (Form I-526) must be English documents signed by the investor. Any non-English documents need to be accompanied by a certified translation.
Are there any restrictions on the job creation requirement?
Your investment must create at least 10 jobs and you must prove this job creation to the USCIS. The required 10 jobs cannot include you, your spouse, or your children. They must be employees of the enterprise in which your investment is made. These jobs also are not permitted to include independent contractors. For some approved regional centers, however, indirect employment is included.
What are the benefits of a Green Card?
There are many benefits to obtaining a U.S. Green Card. Each person has their own reasons for wanting permanent residence in the United States, and having a Green Card provides many benefits that help investors to accomplish their goals. Some of the benefits of securing a U.S. Green Card include:
- All legal permanent residents under the EB-5 Investor Program enjoy the same rights and benefits as every other lawful resident of the United States.
- The U.S. is a safe harbor for your family as well as for your personal and business assets. Any member of your family with a Green Card can enter the United States at any time and stay as long as he or she wishes.
- EB-5 investors holding Green Cards have access to the United States for personal, trade and business purposes.
- Permanent residents travel to the U.S. without the need of a visa.
- EB-5 investors may work, live, or own their own businesses anywhere in the United States.
- The U.S. has internationally recognized colleges and universities for both undergraduate education and graduate study. As a permanent resident, EB-5 investors can benefit from lower tuition costs associated with U.S. residency.
- The cost of living in the U.S. is less than most large industrial nations. Consumer goods, services, and housing are significantly less expensive than comparable services and goods in most other countries.
- Students may work in the U.S. while they attend college and then continue to work afterwards, enabling the student to pay for part of his education and to work while attending graduate and postgraduate studies.
- The U.S. provides many financial, social and education entitlements – public schools, health and medical attention, social security, and education.
- The Investor has the ability to bring other family members to the U.S. after proper application, and can obtain U.S. citizenship after 5 years of residing in the U.S.
What are the steps for processing an EB-5 Visa application?
In order to complete the EB-5 process and become a permanent U.S. resident, foreign investors must work through three steps:
- Step 1: USCIS Form I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. This is your first official step in the EB-5 process after completing your Accredited Investor Questionnaire, choosing a Project, signing all of the proper documents to subscribe to a Regional Center Project, and placing your funds in escrow with the project. The I-526 Application is submitted to the USCIS by your immigration attorney along with supporting documentation that clearly demonstrates that your investment meets all EB-5 requirements.
- Step 2: USCIS Form I-485/Consular Review. After receiving approval of the I-526 Application, investors already residing in the U.S. may submit a completed Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) to the USCIS. For investors residing outside of the U.S. – the process is similar but requires the investor to apply for an immigrant visa at the US Consulate in their country of residence.
- Step 3: USCIS Form I-829 – Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions. One year and nine months after initial I-526 approval, investors can file a completed Form I-829 with the USCIS to have conditions removed from their Green Card and establish permanent residency. With this petition, the investor must demonstrate that the investment was sustained throughout the two-year conditional period and that job creation requirements were met by the project. During this process, the investor is aided by their chosen Regional Center in providing the requisite documentation. Upon approval of the I-829 application, full permanent resident status is given to the investor and his or her spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age.
For more detailed information on the EB-5 process, click here.
What is a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)?
A Targeted Employment Area, or TEA, is a geographic area in the United States which is either Rural (has a population of less than 20,000), is not part of an Metropolitan Statistical Area, or has an unemployment rate that is 150% of the national average. If your investment project is located within a TEA, your minimum investment decreases from $1,000,000 to $500,000.
What is an escrow account and when does the investor transfer the money into this account?
An Escrow Bank Account is a legal holding account established in a reputable bank. This type of account is commonly used in the sale of real estate, businesses and personal property. In order to comply with the requirements of EB-5, an investor must transfer the $500,000 capital investment amount to the Project Escrow Account before filing their I-526 application for an EB-5 visa.
Part of the application process requires the investor to prove that the investment amount has been invested in the United States. Typically, proof of invested capital consists of Wire Transfer receipts and Confirmation of Funds letters issued by the bank.
May two or more investors qualify with a pooled investment in a single business?
There is technically no limit to the number of investors who can qualify for immigration through investment in one business. However, each individual investor must invest the required minimum amount separately.
What does «lawfully gained» mean in the EB-5 Program Requirements?
Under USCIS regulations, the investor must demonstrate or provide proof that his assets were gained in a lawful manner. This requires the investor to prove his investment funds were obtained through lawful business, salary, investments, property sales, inheritance, gift, loan, or other lawful means.
Usually, an investor will need to provide documentation as proof, including business/individual tax returns, employment records, documentation regarding business sales, proof of gifts or inheritance, and information on securities or real estate transactions.
What is the difference between conditional and unconditional Green Cards?
Under USCIS regulations, an investor who gets approved for an EB-5 investor visa receives a conditional Green Card that is valid for two years. One year and nine months after the conditional Green Card is issued, a three-month window opens up during which an investor files another application with the USCIS to verify that all funds have been invested and that job creation requirements have been met.
When the conditions are removed from the temporary Green Card, full resident status is granted and a permanent Green Card is issued to the investor. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges.
What’s the difference between permanent residence and citizenship?
Once you obtain a Green Card and become a permanent legal resident, you have most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote and are not entitled to certain public benefits. You are subject to the same tax filing requirements and entitled to the same tax rates and deductions as U.S. citizens.
One of the most important rights legal permanent residents possess is the right to apply for U.S. Citizenship after residing in the United States for five (5) years. There are two ways to become a U.S. citizen. One is by being born in the U.S. or being born to a U.S. citizen. The other is by way of naturalization. The first step in becoming a U.S. Citizen through the naturalization process is to become a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). Being an LPR for 5 years is one of the basic requirements necessary to qualify for naturalization. A second requirement is maintaining a physical presence in the U.S. for a minimum of 30 months during the 5 years prior to the submission of your application for naturalization. Once you are naturalized and become a U.S. citizen, you are entitled to additional benefits including the right to vote and hold public office.
What is the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program?
In 1990, under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. Â§ 1153(b)(5) the US Congress created the fifth employment-based preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category. Each year, the provision grants 10,000 immigrant visas to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis that their investment in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the US economy.
To encourage immigration through the EB-5 program, U.S. Congress created the Regional Center Pilot Program in 1993. The program specifically sets aside 3,000 visas each year for foreign investors who apply through a United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) designated Regional Center. An investor seeking an EB-5 immigrant visa through a designated Regional Center must generally make a qualifying investment of $1,000,000 USD.
For businesses in rural areas or in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) with higher-than-normal levels of unemployment, investors applying for an EB-5 visa may qualify with a lesser investment of $500,000. Additionally, the foreign investor must demonstrate that the investment created at least 10 U.S. jobs through direct, indirect, and induced effects.
What is the Regional Center’s role in a project?
The Regional Center acts as General Partner of the Limited Partnership and will oversee the interests of all members of the Limited Partnership by being responsible for the day to day management of the Limited Partnership and reporting on the progress of the project.
What issue typically causes the most problems when applying for an EB-5 Visa?
The most common problem area for investors has been insufficient documentation of the source of funds. Many people try to disclose the least possible information only to have the file returned with a request for further information. It is better to provide too much information rather than too little information. In this era of terror alerts and suspicions about money laundering, USCIS adjudicators require a well-documented source of funds.
Where can I find copies of relevant forms, laws, and regulations about the EB-5 Visa Program?
Who is eligible to receive permanent residency (Green Card)?
The investor, spouse, and all unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to receive Green Cards through the EB-5 program.
Who should invest in an EB-5 Regional Center?
The beauty of the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot Program is that there is no such thing as an ideal investor. Foreign investors who participate in the EB-5 program include people from a wide variety of countries, cultures, and personal or professional backgrounds.
Start Your EB-5 Journey with Houston EB5
We hope the above FAQs and answers have been helpful. If you have any more questions, need further assistance, or would like to start the EB-5 Visa Program process, contact Houston EB5 today at 1-281-326-9349 or contact us online by clicking the button below.
FAQs About the EB-5 Visa Program | Houston EB5 – Houston, TX