Qualifying for an EB-5 Visa

Are you interested in immigrating to the United States as a lawful permanent resident? The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides various immigrant visas based on employment, family ties, adoption, special immigrant categories, and the diversity visa.

One of the reliable ways to achieve permanent residency is to apply for an EB-5 Visa or also known as the “Investor Green Card”. This investor visa was created to promote investments in businesses and to create jobs in the United States. This visa type grants permanent resident status to foreign national investors who are willing to invest a significant amount of capital in American companies. A qualified Florida immigration attorney can help you determine your eligibility for an EB5 visa and guide you throughout the legal immigration process. 

This article will help you know and understand the process of EB5 visa applications by answering the following immigration questions:

  1. How Do I Qualify for an EB-5 Visa?
  2. How Much Do I Have to Invest in an EB-5 Project?
  3. What are the Criteria for Investing in a New Business?
  4. What are the Criteria for Investing in a Failing Business?
  5. How Do I Apply for an EB-5 Visa?


How Do I Qualify for an EB5 Visa?

Florida immigration attorneyThis program allows eligible alien entrepreneurs and foreign nationals who are interested in investing in a U.S. business venture to apply for a green card, which can lead to their permanent residence in the U.S. The principal investor or the applicant can apply for their spouse and unmarried children under 21 as well. They may be admitted to the United States on a two-year conditional period. A petition (I-829) may then be filed to remove conditions from a family member’s green card. As a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder), authorization to secure a work permit and attend school in the U.S. is given to one family member at a time.

According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the EB5 visa program is capped at 10,000 visas each year. Accordingly, it is important to apply before the quota has been met for that fiscal year. To qualify for permanent residency using EB5 Visa, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • An investment of $1 million or more (or at least $500,000 in certain rural areas or regions with high unemployment)
  • The company must employ at least ten full-time positions for either US citizens or legal permanent residents

One of the most important requirements for an EB5 visa application is to show proper documentation of all the sources of money that you’ll use for the investment. Funds required for the investment may include, but are not limited to:

  • Accumulation of salary
  • Earnings from business ownership
  • Proceeds from sale/mortgage of real estate property
  • Gift
  • Inheritance


What are the Criteria for Investing in a New Business?

If you want to invest in a new business, here are some of the qualifications:

  • The investor must be investing at least US$1 million (or at least $500,000 if in a designated targeted employment area)
  • The new business must create at least 10 full-time positions for U.S. workers.
  • Workers may include citizens, Green Card holders, and others who are permitted by law to work in the United States
  • The investment must benefit the U.S. economy, usually by providing goods or services to domestic markets
  • The capital investment does not have to be all cash but may also comprise: (cash equivalents or indebtedness secured by assets of the investor, equipment, stock, or other tangible property)
  • The EB5 petitioner may be involved directly in a management capacity, or as a limited partner


What are the Criteria for Investing in a Failing Business?

If you want to invest in a failing business, here are some of the requirements:

  • The business must have been running for at least two years
  • It must have returned a net loss for the recent 12 to the 24-month period before the petition
  • That loss must constitute at least 20% of the business’s net worth on the balance sheet
  • The investment must maintain at least as many jobs as there were before investment for a minimum of two years
  • Invest or be in the process of investing $1,000,000. Or at least $500,000 if the investment is in a designated “Targeted Employment Area”
  • The petitioner may be involved in day-to-day management or as a limited partner


How Do I Apply for an EB-5 Visa?

Getting a green card or obtaining a permanent US citizenship involves a systematic process of application. Here are the steps on how to apply for an EB5 visa:


Select a Qualifying EB-5 Project

When you select an EB-5 eligible investment, consider these two factors: Green Cards, and return of capital. The first relates to the likelihood of immigration and citizenship benefits, the second relates to the likelihood of having your capital returned on time.


File a Petition

After selecting an investment, you can consult a credible Florida immigration attorney to help you file your EB-5 petition (known as a Form I-526) and paperwork with USCIS. You have to fill out Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Form I-526 has to be submitted with additional documentation proving that your investment meets all requirements, such as:

  • establishing a new commercial enterprise
  • investing the requisite capital amount
  • proving the investment comes from a lawful source of funds
  • creating the requisite number of jobs
  • creating employment within a targeted employment area
  • demonstrating that the investor is actively participating in the business

Once the petition is approved, the USCIS forwards the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will contact you when an immigrant visa number becomes available.


Conditional Permanent Residency for Two Years

Once an investor’s I-526 petition is approved, conditional permanent residency can be attained in one of two ways:

  • If the investor is living in the U.S., they will file Form I-485 for adjustment of status.
  • Investors living abroad file Form DS-260 with a U.S. Consulate or U.S. Embassy.
  • With the approval of either application, the investor’s next step in the EB-5 visa process is to become a two-year conditional resident of the United States.


Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence

The final step in the EB-5 visa process is for the applicant to become an unconditional permanent resident. This is done by the removal of conditions to permanent residency after an I-829 application is filed, adjudicated, and approved.

This application provides documented evidence that the petitioner has met all of the requirements of the EB-5 program, as per the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


The Role of an Immigration Lawyer

The EB-5 visa application process can be complicated and lengthy. If you try to file your citizenship application on your own and fail, you might damage your chances of success in the future. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with our experienced Florida immigration attorneys at AmLaw Global. Our immigration law firm will help you determine your eligibility for this program, identify the best geographic area given the amount you can invest, and assist you with completing the necessary immigration forms.


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