Making an EB-5 investment can be an excellent way to combine your entrepreneurial spirit with your goal of becoming a citizen of the US. But the fact that every year between 3,000 and 10,000 EB-5 visas are awarded to foreign investors does not mean that the process is straightforward or easy to navigate!
And, if you are just getting started, the chances are that you have endless questions that need answering. Let’s start with the most important ones.
What is an EB5 Investment?
An EB5 visa allows non US citizens to gain a green card through financial investment. If you’re willing to invest in a company that was established after November 29 1990, lead to the full-time employment (a minimum of 35 hours per week) of at least ten US workers, and have this done in less than two years from your visa approval date, you could be eligible for an EB5 investment.
How Much Money Do You Need for an EB5 Investment?
A quick look at international investor visa programs will tell you that most countries require investors to pledge a multi-million dollar capital. In the case of the UK, the minimum investment is set at £2 million, while Austria requires investors to invest at least €10 million into a business!
In the US, the minimum investment required for alien entrepreneurs to petition for an Employment-Based Fifth Preference (EB-5) Visa has changed several times in the past years, and it is set to rise after 2027. However, as outlined in the update issues in March 2022, investors need to pledge a minimum of:
$1,050,000 or $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) – or those areas with an unemployment rate 150% greater than the national average. The capital invested is “at-risk” and does not include additional fees and costs (which range between $50,000 and $70,000).
Does an EB-5 Investment Automatically Grant a Green Card?
If you wish to set up a business in the US and you have the necessary capital to apply for a Golden Visa, the EB-5 program is a great option to self-petition for a green card, which allows you to become a Permanent Lawful Resident of America.
However, fulfilling the economic requirements of this visa is not always enough to secure a residency permit. Indeed, you will need to make sure that your investments lead to the creation and maintenance of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying employees.
Depending on the kind of business you are looking to invest in and where your enterprise is located, you might also need to prove that it will benefit the US economy.
How Can Investors Minimize Immigration Risk?
As seen above, pledging enough capital does not automatically grant you a visa. What’s more, because your investment is “at-risk”, you are not guaranteed to receive your money back, let alone returns.
Because of this, alien investors face significant financial and immigration risks, which will need to be managed throughout the self-petitioning process. The best way to make the process safer is to partner with specialized consultants and attorneys, such as the team at eb5visainvestments.com.
These professionals can offer tailored advice, as well as help you streamline the application process, plan your taxes, understand the best project to invest in, and carry out due diligence for you.
What Does the Naturalization Process Involve?
Undoubtedly, self-petitioning for a visa is the first step to take toward becoming a naturalized US citizen. It all starts with filing form I-526, also known as Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Your application will need to include proof of funds, as well as evidence that you are admissible in the US and that your investment will benefit the US economy.
If your petition is successful, you will receive a conditional green card. This temporary residency permit allows you to stay and work in America for two years. Just before your green card is about to expire, you can file Form I-829 – or a petition to remove the conditions on your green card.
If this second petition is successful, you will perceive a Permanent Resident Card. After five years of living in the US as a lawful permanent resident – or three if you are the spouse of a US citizen -, you can file Form N-400 and apply for citizenship.
How Long Does It Take To Secure an EB-5 Investment Visa?
Processing times to secure an EB-5 visa vary depending on your investment type and business nature, but they have always averaged around 1-2 years. Today, due to the program’s sunset period that happened in June 2021, processing times have stretched to 5-6 years.
Partnering with a specialized attorney or consulting firm can help you better understand timelines and find ways to speed up your application process.