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EB-5 Immigrant Visa, Explained: A No-B.S Guide for Doing Business in the US

By Jamie Richardson | May 11, 2022

Your vision of coming to the United States and making a name for yourself in business could be just a few steps away…if you’re able to invest now. That’s where the EB-5 Immigrant Visa comes in, a permanent residency U.S. visa that works as a sort of investor Green Card. 

If you can qualify for an EB-5, you might be able to live in the U.S. permanently in exchange for investing capital in select American companies. In this guide, we’re going to explain how the EB-5 really works - the good, the bad, and the ugly - with no added B.S.!

What Do I Need to Know About the EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 Visa allows immigrants to get a U.S. green card not only for themselves, but for their spouse and their single-status children under 21 years old. Approximately 10,000 EB-5s are available each year, meaning it’s not as easy to get as one might hope. 

One reason for this is because qualifying immigrants must invest in a U.S. business, which in effect, creates more jobs for U.S. workers. The capital is steep, which explains why it’s a fairly low number of applications: $900,000 as a minimum, or $1.8 million as the standard amount. 

The investment goes towards creating at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. employees. Even though this would be an investment-based green card, some rules still apply: 

  • Capital must have been acquired legally (No mafia kings!)
  • Investment is always “at-risk”, meaning no guaranteed profit loopholes
  • Investors must actually take part in managing the business

While it’s not necessarily easy to get, it is a viable option for those who can afford it. Read more about green card holders privileges (EB5 program) and why more investors are pursuing this route. 

The EB-5 Immigrant Visa Application Process 

Start by requesting and filling out form I-526, which will go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

However, before you invest anything, understand that the money is going to a “Regional Center.” This is the organization responsible for creating American jobs, and they pool the money from several investors at a time to manage new job prospects. 

Region Centers must be specifically created and approved by USCIS, so be careful about choosing the right facility. The Regional Center is responsible for taking care of all USCIS requirements, and not all centers will measure up to the highest standard. 

Additional Forms

If and when the form is approved, the next step is to apply for an “adjustment of status”, (I-485) which depends on whether you’re outside the U.S. or currently living in the U.S. with legal status. If you’re still living in another country, then start the process at the local U.S. consulate/ or embassy. 

When you’re approved, you become a conditional lawful permanent resident, with an expiration date. You have two years to maintain your investment and create jobs for U.S. workers as indicated.

After this, you can apply to remove the conditional provision from your green card (I-829) and show evidence of the jobs that were created and investment records. 

Problems in Getting EB-5 Immigrant Visa 

Well, of course there’s going to be confusion at some point in the process, which is why it’s important to remember these details - which can mean the difference between legal citizenship and a huge waste of money. 

First, you can’t just invest the money and hope for the best. You need to include a detailed and sound business plan, evidence of your funding, as well as evidence that you are putting the money up “at risk”, and that there are no loopholes benefiting you - such as guaranteed profit or the ability to withdraw the money.

Other information is also required, pertaining to passports and other details. 

Besides that, most regional center projects involve hospitality, shopping, sports arenas, and similar real estate projects. Investors have a lot to gain by investing in hotels, as we detailed in a related article. 

Not everyone realizes that immigrant investors can invest in their own businesses, or buy another business. You may have to invest the higher-tier amount, and other conditions will apply too. 

Hiring an Immigration Lawyer

Hiring an immigration lawyer can be pricey, but compared to losing about a million dollars? It’s an expense you should pay! There are no guarantees when you apply without the expertise of an immigration lawyer. You need to know the details of your business, the immigration laws, and the EB-5 visa process. 

If you fail to qualify the first time, this will only hurt your chances when reapplying. 

As of 2022, the EB-5 program has been extended until 2027, but it’s far from permanent or predictable at this point. This is another reason why consulting with an immigration lawyer can help you avoid any pitfalls that might occur. 

Overall, the EB-5 program has a lot of potential to help immigrants, help U.S. workers find jobs, and help drive demand for future housing in the U.S. Read our article on the subject and then let us know what you think! 

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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