The EB-5 investment process has different stages and timelines. In this article, we will walk you through the process of filing for EB-5 and how long it takes to get a conditional Green Card under the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
In short, it’ll take a little under two years for you to get your conditional Green Card. Each EB-5 investor will also need ~ 30 days to prepare the filing of his or her Immigrant petition (I-526), which is the number of the form that one files on.
However, this only applies if you’re not born in mainland China. Currently, there is a visa backlog for investors who were born in mainland China. This backlog does not include investors who were born in Hong Kong or Taiwan or Macau, but timing-wise, the Green Card process for investors from mainland China will take much longer.
Filing the I-526 petition
First, we will break down this two-plus year period. As an EB-5 investor, you will need to engage an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney to prepare your I-526 petition.
The filing of the I-526 petition is divided into two parts:
- The first part is related to the investment project and
- the second part will be about the source of your investment funds.
As an example, let’s say 100 investors are investing into the same regional center project. All 100 of these investors will have virtually identical project-related documents while everybody will have their own source of funds section.
The project part of the I-526 filing is often called the I-526 Template and this template is prepared by the regional center and given to your immigration attorney to file. The source of funds section of the petition is the part that is different for each individual investor and therefore this part will be prepared by your immigration attorney.
Source of funds
The USCIS requires that your investment funds be obtained lawfully and the documentation to prove this can be extensive. Therefore, this process can take approximately a month, but depending on where your investment funds are coming from, it can also take longer in some cases.
Once all the source of funds is properly documented, your immigration attorney will file your I-526 petition. As of 2018, the average processing time for I-526 is approximately 20 months according to the USCIS website. Each EB-5 investor can check the USCIS processing times here.
I-526 processing times
The I-526 processing times have grown exponentially in recent years. However, it is important to remember that the timelines posted by the USCIS are the average processing times and not the median processing times, so these will differ in each single investor’s case. So there is no need to be concerned if the EB-5 processing time is taking longer than expected.
In case your petition receives an additional request for evidence, also know as an RFE, it will take time to respond to that. This is a factor that could possibly delay your approval by a few months.
At this point in time, it will take 20 months for the average I-526 to be approved. Once it’s approved, the EB-5 investor can finally apply for his or her Green Card.
Applying for the Green Card or “Adjustment of Status”
Obtaining a Green Card through the EB-5 investment program is a two-step process. First, the investor needs to file the Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, the I-526.
Once that’s approved, the second step is to apply for a Green Card. So once the investor has an approved immigrant petition, he or she then can apply for permanent residency or apply for a Green Card.
Adjustment of status is the process that you can use to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as applying for a Green Card) when you are present in the United States, and this is filed through the I-485 adjustment.
Timing-wise currently both the I-485 adjustment of status and consular processing will take approximately six months. So if we add on the I-526 wait time of 20 months to the Green Card processing time of six months, it takes a little over two years to obtain a conditional Green Card through the EB-5 investment program.