FAQs - ABOUT
The capital for an EB-5 investment can be obtained through a loan from a financial institute with the investor’s assets as collaterals. The collaterals, however, cannot be the very EB-5 assets the EB-5 applicant invest in. An investor will also need to prove to USCIS the legal source of funds used to purchase or obtain the assets used as the collaterals for the loan.
An H1-b visa holder can apply for an EB-5 visa while working in the United States and remain in valid status. If the I-526 petition is approved and a visa number is available when the H-1b visa holder is legally working in the U.S., an I-485 petition can be filed to adjust the applicant’s status to become a conditional permanent resident.
Borrowed money can be used as part of the EB-5 investment as long as it is secured by collaterals from the applicant. Gifted money could also be authenticated for the purpose of EB-5 when the donor can provide clear documentation on the source of the gifted funds.
Generally speaking, prospective investors can take bank loans to participate in the EB-5 program. However, the loan must be secured by assets, and the collateral cannot be the very EB-5 business one invests in. Investors also need to submit to USCIS the thorough documentation on the terms and conditions of the loan.
An EB-5 investor is eligible to work for any U.S. employees after becoming a conditional permanent resident or obtaining work authorizations. Investors do not need to work for the regional center through which they make the investment. If investors or dependents want to work for the very EB-5 business they invest in, they should be aware that their positions may not be used to fulfill the job creation criteria.
If applicants live in the United States as undocumented immigrants, they are generally not eligible for the benefits of the EB-5 program. This is because even if their I-526s are approved, they are not able to legally adjust their status in the U.S. since they don’t have legal status in the first place. If leaving the country and proceeding with consular processing, they will first be faced with immigration bars that might prevent them from entering the country for an extended period.
EB-5 investors may get the full or part of their invested money back when their immigration and investment cycles are completed. Many regional centers would include the terms and conditions of this exit procedures in the investment agreement or other documents. USCIS also requires that EB-5 investors maintain their investment “at risk” during the two years of conditional permanent residency.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program was created in 1990 by Congress to incentivize foreign investment and stimulate the American job market. The program not only benefits the U.S. with inflows of foreign capitals to underdeveloped regions or areas with high unemployment rates, but also offers foreign investors access to world-class jobs, education and healthcare opportunities. For instance, 7,889 foreign investors and their family members received immigrant visas through EB-5 in FY 2019, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Participating in the EB-5 program is a demanding process that requires planning and careful execution for both investors and their legal/financial representatives. The first step is to locate an EB-5 project, either through a regional center or via a direct investment opportunity. Once a project is selected, the investment is made and the required documents are prepared, an investor can file an I-526 petition to USCIS. If approval is issued and when the investor’s priority date becomes current, he or she can apply for an EB-5 visa at the U.S. consulate or file an adjustment of status petition if located in the U.S.
The amount of required investments for each EB-5 applicant varies depending on the location of the business an investor selects. If investing in a Targeted Employment Area, the investment threshold is $900,000. Otherwise, the minimum investment amount increases to $1.8 million. Project developers can use EB-5 investments as a powerful source of funds for their development projects. Existing businesses can also attract foreign investors with direct investment opportunities to scale up and create more jobs with the EB-5 capital.
Regional centers usually have detailed terms and conditions on the return of investors’ EB-5 capital in the investment agreement or other documents. Investors need to review these documents with their EB-5 attorneys carefully to understand the exit strategies before any investment is made. Investors also need to understand that USCIS requires the EB-5 capital to be kept “at risk” during the conditional permanent residency, which means that investors can not get their EB-5 money back during this period if they want to keep their immigration benefits.
EB-5 processing times are case-specific. USCIS’ website publishes the estimated processing times of various EB-5 forms at different service centers. For an investor from a country without visa backlogs, once the I-526 is approved, he or she can either file a DS-260 and obtain an EB-5 visa to enter the U.S., or proceed with an I-485 application to adjust status while in the U.S. Upon approval, the investor can live and work without restrictions and start to enjoy the benefits of EB-5.
The EB-5 process, which includes the processing of Forms I-526, I-485 and I-829, varies based on the workload of different USCIS service centers across the U.S. and other case-specific factors. USCIS updates its website on the estimated case processing times for each form, which can be used by investors as a general guideline. Investors coming from backlogged countries may experience longer waits.
About 10,000 visas are reserved every fiscal year for the EB-5 visa category. These visas are issued to EB-5 investors, their spouses and dependent children under 21. Each country can take up to 7.1% of the annual visa quota. Unused visas are allocated to investors from countries with high demands.
In addition to the amount of investment and filing fees required by USCIS for the EB-5 program, investors may also need to pay for the legal, administrative and due diligence services associated with an EB-5 application. The required EB-5 investment is $900,000 for a project located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million for a project in a non-TEA. Investors must also pay the filing fees for the EB-5 forms – I-526, I-485 or DS-260, and I-829. Many investors retain an immigration attorney to help them handle the processing and filing of their applications, and some might hire taxation experts for pre-immigration tax planning and due diligence teams to conduct research on project candidates, which might incur extra costs.
For the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program, the required investment amount is $900,000 for projects in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million for non-TEA projects. Investors are also responsible to pay the filing fees of Form I-526, Form I-485 or DS-160, and Form I-829, which are the essential forms for an EB-5 case. Some investors might also retain services from legal, taxation and other professional teams during this process. For investors investing through a regional center, administration fees may also occur.
The investment criteria of the EB-5 investment vary depending on the location of the project a foreign investor selects. If a project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum investment is $900,000. For projects in non-TEAs, the required investment amount is doubled. In November 2019, the EB-5 program went through a major legislative overhaul that made several significant changes to TEA designations. EB-5 investors should check the TEA-eligibility of a project before initiating any EB-5 applications.
Since its inception in 1990, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has helped thousands of foreign investors and their families realize their American dreams. With world-class education, healthcare and social welfare, the U.S. has a lot to offer to foreign individuals who can help develop the country. Unlike other visa routes that have strict requirements on the applicants’ age, education or business background, the EB-5 program is accessible for almost every foreign investor, as long as the required investment can be proven to come from legal sources.
Established by the U.S. Congress in 1990 in an effort to stimulate foreign investment, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a permanent visa program that has run successfully for over 30 years. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, created in 1993, allowed investors to participate in the program through a regional center. Although it is not a permanent program, it has been consistently reauthorized. During the past years, there have also been strong incentives in the EB-5 legislation to make the pilot program permanent.
The EB-5 program experienced a major legislative overhaul in November 2019, where the minimum investment amounts were increased, among other changes. Currently, the minimum investment for projects in a Targeted Employment Area is $900,000 and $1.8 million for projects elsewhere.
It is crucial for potential investors to understand that participating in the EB-5 program, by its nature, is to engage in an investment activity where gains and losses can occur. There is no guarantee for the safety of one’s capital in an EB-5 project. It is also required by USCIS that EB-5 investors need to maintain their investments “at risk” during the two-year conditional permanent residency. However, with thorough planning and due diligence, an investor can minimize their investment risks and increase the possibility of getting their investment capital back.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a permanent program created by the U.S. Congress. The regional center pilot program, which has been a popular choice among investors, has been consistently reauthorized since its inception in 1993. Both options are currently available for investors.
The EB-5 capital from a foreign investor is used by a U.S. business to complete the selected project and create American jobs. It is also a common practice for regional centers to first deposit an investor’s money in an escrow account until the investor’s I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, in order to reduce the risks an EB-5 investor bears. For a direct EB-5 project, the EB-5 funds could be used to invest in inventory, equipment or other tangible properties.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program provides foreign investors a path to U.S. permanent residency and possibly citizenship through a significant amount of investment in a U.S. business and the creation of American jobs. The investment criteria are $900,000 for a project in a Targeted Employment Area or $1.8 million for one in a non-TEA.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is the American equivalence of the so-called “Golden Visa” program, which is used in many EU countries to attract foreign investment in exchange for the benefit of residency or citizenship rights. With an investment of $1.8 million and the creation of 10 American jobs, a foreign investor, the spouse and their children under 21 years old can get U.S. green cards and potentially become U.S. citizens if other requirements are met. The minimum investment threshold is cut in half if the selected investment project is located in a Targeted Employment Area.
Although the United States provides several paths for foreign nationals to obtain citizenship, including family-based and employment-based immigration, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an efficient way towards U.S. permanent residency and potentially citizenship, while making a significant contribution to underserved communities and creating American jobs. The processing time of EB-5 varies on a case-by-case basis.
To be eligible for the EB-5 program, investors need to be able to make the required investment in a U.S. business and create jobs. Potential investors must also be able to prove the legal source of funds for their investment to qualify. Unlike investment immigration programs from some other countries that have strict criteria on the applicants’ net worth, the EB-5 program does not impose such requirements on applicants. Investors also don’t need to show that they are accredited investors, as demanded by SEC for other types of securities offerings.
The minimum amount of investment required for an EB-5 visa is $1.8 million. If the investment is made in a Targeted Employment Area, the minimum investment amount is reduced by half at $900,000. The investment amount was updated as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Modernization, effective on Nov. 21, 2019.
A targeted employment area (TEA) is a rural area or a location with a high rate of unemployment. EB-5 investors who make their investment in a TEA can enjoy the reduced investment threshold. However, not all rural areas or regions of high unemployment qualify as a targeted employment area in the EB-5 field. The designation of a TEA is adjudicated as part of an investor’s I-526 petition. An investor must, in his or her petition, demonstrate that the location of the project meets the requirements of TEA.
In addition to the required investment amount in an EB-5 project, which is $900,000 for projects in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million for non-TEA projects, investors are also responsible to pay the filing fees of Form I-526, Form I-485 or DS-160, and Form I-829. Many investors also choose to retain services from legal, taxation and other professional teams during this process. For investors investing through a regional center, administration fees may also occur.
It is highly advisable that investors make the entire amount of investment required by the EB-5 program and keep full documentation on the source of funds at the time of filing an I-526 application. Insufficient investment or incomplete documentation may cause RFEs or denials from USCIS, which could be detrimental to an investor’s case.
Any lawful for-profit businesses, no matter which industry it is in or how it is structured, can be an EB-5 project. Some of the popular types of businesses include real estate, restaurants, medical facilities and infrastructure. The EB-5 business can be structured as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a holding company, a joint venture, a corporation, an LLC or other types of entities. Nonprofit organizations don’t qualify for EB-5.
The EB-5 program requires investors to create 10 full-time positions for permanent residents and citizens of the U.S. For regional center projects, both direct and indirect jobs can be used to fulfill the requirements on job creation, and investors working with a regional center are usually less involved in the job creation process, as the regional center would take the majority of such responsibilities. For investors in a direct EB-5 investment who are actively engaged in the daily operation of the EB-5 business, the fulfillment of the job creation criteria can be a challenge. Investors who participate in a project already under construction must pay special attention in demonstrating to USCIS the connection of their investment with the jobs created. This can sometimes be questionable as different projects allocate the jobs created to investors in different orders. Investors should consult with a qualified immigration attorney before any investment is made.