Table of Contents
A complete guide to the requirements, process, and benefits of acquiring a green card through the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
What is a US Green Card?
A green card is the equivalent of US permanent residency, it is sometimes referred to as a permanent resident card. A green card unlocks plenty of benefits for its holder, including the right to live and work permanently in the United States. The US government grants, on average, one million green cards each year. To apply for a green card, one must be eligible under one of the categories listed on the official USCIS website. The processing time for a green card varies depending on the types of green cards an individual is applying for and where he/or she is applying from. In general, for immediate relatives (spouses and minor children) of US citizens, the wait time can be reasonable but for other categories, such as (H1-B,) via employer sponsorship, the wait can be much longer, counting in years.
US EB-5 Visa: What is it?
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created in 1990 to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under the US EB-5 program, applicants must invest a refundable amount of USD 800,000 in a government-approved EB-5 project. The investor, the investor’s spouse, and any children under the age of 21 may receive in exchange for their investment, a US green card eventually leading to a US passport and citizenship.
US EB-5 Visa Requirements
To obtain a green card through the EB-5 program, an investor must meet specific requirements as stipulated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- EB-5 Investment Amount: The program requires a minimum investment of USD $1,050,000 unless the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or rural area, where the minimum investment must be USD $800,000.
- Sources of Funds: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) thoroughly examines where an applicant’s funds came from, including the path of that money. Therefore, proving the lawful source of the investment capital is critical for a successful application.
- EB-5 Job Creation: The investment must result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
US EB-5 Green Card Application Process
There are four main stages in the EB-5 process that an immigrant investor should be prepared to complete to become a permanent resident in the United States.
- Select a US Immigration consultant and select a project: Placing the EB-5 application in the hands of reputable immigration firms reduces the risk of denial or rejection. At this stage, your chosen EB-5 team should determine if you meet the general admissibility criteria for the EB-5 program. Any areas of concern that need to be addressed should also be discussed at this stage before the process moves forward.
- Compile and file the I-526E petition: The initial EB-5 application is called Form I-526E and primarily consists of two parts: the investor’s source of funds and information on the project in which they have invested their $800,000 capital. Thus, your EB-5 will present you with a diverse range of EB-5 projects for you to select the one you wish to invest in and will collect your financial documents to demonstrate your source of funds and compile a strong EB-5 application.
- Become a Conditional Permanent Resident: Once your I-526E application has been approved, there are two options to obtain your conditional green card. If you are outside of the United States, you will need to go to the nearest US embassy for an interview. Upon a successful interview, you and your dependents will receive a visa allowing you to travel in the United States for the first time as a US citizen. For those already in the US, documents will be submitted for an adjustment of status within the United States.
- File the I-829 petition for unconditional green card: After holding your conditional green card for two years, your EB-5 team will help you file an I-829 petition for the removal of conditions. At this stage, the US government will verify that you made a full investment in the project and that a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for US workers have been created on behalf of the investor by the project. Once the I-829 application is approved by USCIS, the EB-5 process is complete. You and your dependents will receive a permanent US green card.
US EB-5 Green Card Benefits
There are multiple benefits the investor and his/her family — which includes the spouse and any children under the age of 21 — can unlock once they obtain a green card through the EB-5 visa program. Most of these benefits begin from receipt of the conditional green card.
- Legally live in the United States: The family has the freedom to live in the United States while keeping a residence in another country if desired. The green card holder must land once every 6 months in the United States as per the regulations of the US Customs and Border Patrol and must have the intention to make the US their home.
- Work in the United States: As green card holders, the family is not tied to an employer. Each family member with a green card in hand has the freedom to work anywhere in the United States without the need for sponsorships on additional visas like the H1-B visa.
- Education: The benefits for children are abundant. US university students are entitled to scholarships, grants, and domestic tuition rates in public post‐secondary institutions which at times are one-fourth that of international tuition rates. Most importantly, those with a green card have the possibility to remain in the US after graduation and thus can focus on their career growth while international students must endure a tedious process to find an employer willing to sponsor them, and then be lucky enough to be drawn for an employer visa.
- Citizenship: The investor has the option to acquire a United States citizenship and passport after five years of holding the green card if two years and a half (half of the time) out of five years have been spent physically in the United States. The US passport allows the family to travel visa-free to 186+ countries worldwide.
- Travel: The entire family can travel visa-free to the United States and Canada as soon as the green card is obtained.
How many years is a US Green Card valid for?
The approval of the I-526E petition grants conditional permanent resident status to the applicant for a 2-year period. Once the conditions are removed, a green card is valid for an unlimited time but must be renewed every 10 years. A green card holder can then apply for US citizenship after five years so long as physical residency requirements have been fulfilled.
Immigration Consultancy in Dubai
Step Global, an immigration consultancy in Dubai specialised in citizenship and residency by investment programs, can assist you with your application for the Portugal Golden Visa, US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, Canada Start-Up Visa, and UAE Golden Visa.
You may now have a good overview on what the US EB-5 program is and if it fits your family’s goals and needs. In this section we answer additional questions you may have on this program. If you don’t find what you are looking for, consult our EB-5 experienced lawyers that will provide you with the right advice specific to your own situation.
With a Green Card in your hands, you can immigrate to the US without a job offer, and you are entitled to live and work anywhere in the US. The spouse of the primary applicant and children under the age of 21 can also enjoy these benefits. Your children studying in the US not only get access to the most reputable universities in the world but also unlock abundant financial benefits from lower tuition fees as compared to international students; access to grants and scholarships; and the freedom to choose a job wherever they want in the US without being tied to an employer sponsorship.
The EB-5 program requires a minimum investment of USD $800,000 and the investor’s capital must be “at risk”, as per visa regulations. This means that the capital must be a true investment with a risk of loss or chance of gain. Although this regulation is in place, an experienced EB-5 team will guide you as to the best ways to mitigate risk.
Generally, your EB-5 investment should be made before filing our I-526E petition. However, some immigration firms or regional centers will allow you to split the payment in different stages. This must only be done with an experienced EB-5 legal team and a regional center for EB-5 visa to avoid issues during processing.
The United States allows dual citizenship, however, you must also check the rules from your country of origin.
No, education is not a requirement. Similarly, your proficiency in English and age are not part of the EB-5 requirements.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government agency that processes all immigrant applications including for the EB-5 Program.
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