How to Apply for an EB-5 Green Card

The EB-5 investor visa program allows wealthy families from Canada to live and work permanently in the United States. After living south of the border for five years, they can also apply for United States citizenship. The U.S. investment immigration program provides a win-win-win:

  • Developers benefit from affordable capital.
  • Local communities thrive through job creation.
  • Investors can safely achieve permanent residency in the U.S.

Finding a Project

The EB-5 program allows foreign nationals to become lawful permanent residents by investing in new, domestic, and commercial enterprises. Applicants must invest $1,050,000 or $800,000 if the investment is in a targeted employment area (TEA). The investments must also create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers, and the investors must demonstrate that their capital is at risk, i.e., that it could lose value. Investors may invest directly in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or projects sponsored by Regional Centers. Regional centers pool investor funds and manage the development of the projects on behalf of the green card holders. In addition to business modeling and job creation requirements, these centers must provide their EB-5 investors with a good return on investment.

Potential EB-5 investors must conduct thorough due diligence on the project and the company behind it, whether they invest through a Regional Center or as direct investors. It is an important step that will affect their future in the United States. For example, children of EB-5 investors will have access to the world’s most outstanding universities and be eligible for local tuition instead of the higher costs reserved for foreign citizens.

Filing the I-526 Petition

The EB5 application process includes investing capital in a project to create jobs in the United States. The capital investment can be cash, personal assets, or other legally-acquired property. The investment must be enough to make a “substantial contribution” to the new commercial enterprise. The USCIS reviews the I-526 petition to ensure it meets all the law requirements. The agency looks for a high rate of return on investment and evidence that the new business will produce and maintain full-time employment for at least ten U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other immigrants with employment authorization. It also looks for an economic impact on the local area, such as increased regional productivity or improved employment opportunities. Once the I-526 is approved, the investor becomes a two-year conditional permanent resident of the United States. The process is usually completed within six to twelve months, but it can vary depending on the type of investment selected and USCIS processing times. You should work with an experienced immigration attorney and, if necessary, a CPA to ensure all the documentation is submitted correctly. 

Filing the I-829 Petition

Once the investor has obtained their visa and conditional permanent resident status, they must file Form I-829 to remove the conditions on their residence. Becoming a lawful permanent resident is the final step of the process. The EB-5 program requires that the investor invest at least $1,050,000 or $800,000 in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) and that the investment creates at least ten jobs. Of these, at least one job must be a direct job created by the investor, and the remaining nine can be indirect jobs created by the NCE or through investments made by an affiliated regional center. The NCE must be a new business, or the NCE must be in a targeted employment area (TEA). A TEA must have an unemployment rate of 150% greater than the national average and be located in a census tract or nearby rural regions. The investor must also show that the funds used for their investment are from legitimate sources and not the result of criminal activity.

Moving to the U.S.

The EB-5 program allows investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing in new or at-risk commercial enterprises that create ten full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. The investment must be “at-risk” and cannot guarantee a return or repayment. The program is limited to 10,000 visas yearly. It can only be awarded to individuals who invest directly in the commercial enterprise or through Regional Center programs by USCIS based on proposals for job creation and economic growth. Once the I-526 petition is approved, the investor must prepare and file a DS-260 immigrant visa application at a USCIS Consulate or Embassy in their country of origin. The DS-260 application documents the investor’s biographical information, employment history, and other relevant details. It is typically prepared by an experienced EB-5 attorney on behalf of the client. Once the DS-260 is approved, the investor must wait for their green card to be issued by USCIS. In the meantime, they must maintain a physical presence in the U.S. and stay within the country for only 180 days.

Getting the Green Card

The EB-5 Visa is a permanent residence visa for foreign investors who invest money into a new commercial enterprise in the United States and create jobs. The investment must be at least $1,050,000 or $800,000 if the project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with high unemployment. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for designating TEAs. Those who have approved I-526 petitions must wait for their priority date to become current so they can be granted conditional green cards. Then they can work, live and study in the United States with their families. After two years, they must file Form I-829 to remove their conditions on their permanent residency status. It is a complicated process and requires the help of an experienced immigration attorney.