The EB-5 investment visa program allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency (Green Cards) in the United States and eventually become citizens. The process is often complicated and requires extensive planning.
Investors may benefit from expedited processing, allowing quicker approval by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, there are some significant differences between EB-5 visa processing through Regional Centers and direct investments.
Faster Processing Time
The EB-5 visa program requires foreign investors to invest at least $800,000 into projects that create at least ten full-time jobs for United States citizens. Often, these projects are located in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs).
Under the EB-5 program, you can apply for permanent resident status and receive your conditional green card after two years of investing and living in the United States. But, the EB5 premium processing is 10.5 years or more.
USCIS’s current processing times can be even longer if the agency issues a request for evidence or other delays in adjudication. If your application or petition is denied, you must wait another year to submit a new I-526 petition and restart the process.
Luckily, there is a way to skip this lengthy wait time. Investors in exceptional EB-5 investment projects can qualify for expedited approval from immigration services. It can cut years off the time to adjudication and allow you to complete your family’s EB-5 process much sooner. However, a project’s qualification for an expedite does not guarantee that USCIS will approve it or that it will create the required number of jobs.
Visa Set-Asides for Rural Investments
As an EB-5 investor, you’ll want to find a project that offers the best chance of immigration success and returns your invested capital. The EB-5 program requires your investment to create at least ten jobs for American citizens to obtain permanent resident status for you and your family. EB-5 projects that focus on residential real estate have low risk because developers can adjust the pace of construction to meet demand and close property sales before completing their development.
Passed by Congress in 2022, the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) offered attractive incentives for investors. As part of this new arrangement, rural TEA projects receive priority processing of their I-526 petitions and are allotted 20% of the annual EB-5 visa allotment for set-asides. This arrangement diminishes delays for foreign investors from countries with a backlog of visas, such as China and India.
Rural EB-5 projects also offer several other benefits to investors. These include reduced minimum investment amounts ($800,000 versus $1,050,000 for non-TEA projects) and quicker paths to U.S. residency.
Lower Investment Amounts
In a move designed to modernize the EB-5 program, the DHS recently proposed that the minimum investment amount for TEA investments be identical to the standard minimum investment amount. Additionally, the DHS has suggested that a mechanism be included for future adjustments of the minimum investment amounts to account for inflation.
To qualify for the EB-5 program, foreign investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise and create at least ten direct jobs within two years in return for obtaining permanent residency and citizenship in the United States. Generally, the most popular industry for investment is real estate, as it has proven to be one of the most profitable and stable sectors in America.
In addition to real estate, many EB-5 regional centers can offer lucrative investments in the hotel business, which includes resort hotels, student housing facilities, restaurants, and office components. Investing in a hotel is often one of the safest EB-5 options, as it offers high returns and allows the investor to have partial ownership of the business.
No Policy Management Requirement
Unlike other immigrant investor categories, the EB-5 program does not require investors to be actively involved in the day-to-day management of their investments. Foreign investors can remain in their home country and still qualify if they prove their EB-5 investments have created ten direct or indirect jobs.
EB-5 premium processing also eliminates the requirement that immigrants maintain a policy-making role in their EB-5 investments. It allows foreign investors to invest in various business sectors, such as real estate and manufacturing. It makes the EB-5 program ideal for retirees looking to supplement their income with an inactive form of investment.
Moreover, the EB-5 program does not require a sponsor, like other employment and family-based visa categories. It provides a level of flexibility unmatched in the United States immigration system.
No Language Requirements
For investors from countries with quota backlogs in employment-based visa categories, the EB-5 program offers an alternative pathway to permanent residency. While investors must use their funds, they do not need to be sponsored by an employer or family member. If desired, they can also maintain their business and professional relationships in their home country of origin.
Unlike other visa programs, the EB-5 program does not have language requirements. Those with limited English proficiency can still pursue this visa category, provided they conduct thorough due diligence on their investment opportunities. It includes conducting online research and receiving recommendations from their immigration attorney.
The most significant benefit of the EB-5 visa is that it offers permanent residency status. Individuals can apply for citizenship after holding a green card for five years. It provides a path to becoming a full citizen and enjoying the full benefits of U.S. society, such as discounted university tuition rates for children. EB-5 investors can choose between debt or equity investments in the New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) or Job-Creating Enterprise (JCE). Investors should carefully review their loan documents to understand their rights and liabilities if an investment is structured as debt or equity.