The 5Ws (and the H) of the EB-5 Investor Visa

Your Top Questions About the EB-5 Visa, Answered

The 5Ws are a checklist of questions that journalists use when writing the opening paragraph of a news article. The answers to the 5Ws—the five basic questions “What?,” “Who?,” “Why?,” Where?,” and When?”—relay necessary information to readers. At times, reporters include a sixth question—“How?”—which strangely does not begin with a W but still provides important information. And now we apply the 5W questions (and that H) to the EB-5 investor visa. Here we go!

1. What is the EB-5 visa?

The employment-based EB-5 visa is an immigrant investor program in the United States designed to bolster US economic growth and create jobs through foreign financing. In exchange for an investment that must create jobs in the American economy, the program provides foreign investors and their qualifying dependents a pathway to obtaining a green card.

usa visa

2. Who is eligible for an EB-5 visa?

Any foreign national who can invest $800,000 (plus fees) into an EB-5 project or a US enterprise can apply for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Applicants must demonstrate that they have committed no crimes, that the funds were obtained lawfully, and that their investment will create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying US workers. The benefits of one single EB-5 application can be extended to the applicant’s spouse and their dependents up to 21 years old. The rules are the same for applicants of all citizenships.

happy family

3. Why is an EB-5 visa better than the H-1B, F-1, and other available visas?

Unlike the F-1 (student), H-1B (work), and all other visas that rely on your meeting educational or employment criteria, the EB-5 visa primarily requires an investment into a US business. In addition, the EB-5 provides a direct pathway to permanent residency without the need for employer sponsorship or the uncertainty of visa lotteries, allowing all beneficiaries to study, work, and retire in the United States. Consequently, with an EB-5 visa, you have much greater flexibility in employment and educational opportunities for yourself and your family, without the constraints associated with other visa categories. The EB-5 visa can also become a route to US citizenship, if you wish to pursue that option. Finally, it is an investment whose main return is the US green card. By the end of the process, you should also receive your principal capital back.

us university

4. Where should an applicant search for a viable EB-5 project?

Finding the right investment project is perhaps the most crucial part of the EB-5 visa process. That’s why it’s strongly advised that you work through EB-5 investment firms rather than on your own. The list of visa requirements is comprehensive and jam-packed with details that require an experienced, professional eye to ensure that the application contains not even the tiniest mistake to jeopardize it. While many investors consider applying for the EB-5 visa through a “direct investment” (that is, by opening their own business), more than 90% of EB-5 visa applicants choose to invest passively (indirectly) in an EB-5 project managed by a regional center. This option usually reassures the investor that the investment and application will meet all the necessary requirements and will avoid jeopardizing the main goal of the investment, which is to secure the green card and to protect the principal capital invested.

eb5 project surf club miami

In summary, a good EB-5 project has a strong and conservative financial structure, protecting your capital and creating enough jobs so that the permanent green card is approved. While the company track record is one crucial point to be considered, each EB-5 project should be thoroughly and separately analyzed for each of those important factors: financial structure and job creation.

5. When the investment is made and when can the applicant move to the United States after applying for the EB-5 visa?

The application, called the I-526(E) petition (Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor), will be reviewed only after confirmation that you have made the full investment. Therefore, the capital should be invested before you apply for the EB-5 visa, since that confirmation is one of the documents to be sent to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during your application process. However, it may be possible to partially invest (in steps) so that the EB-5 application can be submitted faster, and the applicant can submit the remainder of the investment amount in the following months, since USCIS usually takes some time to review applications.

woman boarding a plane on the ground

The timing to move to the United States depends on various factors. First, it is possible to apply for the EB-5 visa from within the United States, if you are already in the country on a different valid visa, and then you can request an Adjustment of Status based on your pending EB-5 petition. Once you have a pending EB-5 application (the I-526(E) petition) waiting to be reviewed, you can apply for Adjustment of Status at any point (including at the same time you file your petition). Once your Adjustment of Status is approved, you have the right to work and travel outside the United States. This means you can enjoy the benefits of holding a green card even while waiting for USCIS to review your EB-5 visa application.

However, if you are not in a rush to move, you can wait for your application to be approved in your home country (or your country of residence), and you will be able to move after your petition is approved and you go through a consular process. This timeline may vary considerably depending on your nationality and your country of residence.

Overall, with the possibility of applying for an Adjustment of Status at any point while you wait for your I-526(E) petition to be approved, you can enjoy great flexibility about when to move to the United States.

How does the EB-5 visa process unfold?

First, applicants prepare the necessary documentation they will submit with the help of an experienced immigration attorney. At the same time, applicants choose the investment project that will receive their capital and then make the investment. Then, investors must submit Form I-526(E) to USCIS. Once USCIS approves the petition, investors and the dependents they include in their application will either adjust their status (if they are already in the US) or go through a consular process (if they are outside the US) to receive their conditional green card(s). After two years, they can petition to remove the conditions by filing the second EB-5 petition, the I-829 form, and upon its approval, they will receive a permanent green card, becoming unconditional US permanent residents.

It is important to note that, if you have chosen a good EB-5 project, by the end of the process you should receive your principal capital that you invested, with a small amount of interest.

Please consider scheduling a free private consultation with our experts to discuss the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program in detail.

For more questions about the EB-5 visa, contact us.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.