Investor visas, also known as EB-5 visas, are issued to foreign investors who wish to create business opportunities in the United States and improve America's economy by creating jobs. Every year only about seven percent of employment-based visas given are awarded to foreign entrepreneurs.
If you are looking for permanent citizenship through the EB-5 investor visa program, you need to have an immigration lawyer to help you through the whole complicated process.
At California Immigration Attorney, we offer professional representation to settle your immigration needs. Contact our experts today for a free and confidential consultation.
What Are The Qualifications For Investor Visas?
For you to qualify as a foreign investor, you should:
- You should invest a minimum of $1,800,000 (U.S) in a certified enterprise/business without borrowing cash.
- You should also invest $900,000(U.S) in a certified enterprise/business in the backcountry or in an area in the U.S where unemployment rates are high without borrowing cash.
Moreso, you have to prove that your investment created more than ten new job opportunities for U.s citizens. Note that these job opportunities should not be yours or your close relatives.
There are two significant ways in which you can make investments to qualify for an EB-5 visa. They include:
- Direct Investment — This type of investment requires you to put the least amount of money directly into a business operation in the United States.
- Regional Investment — This investment requires you to put the money into a regional center area that is pre-approved. But in this investment, you do not have to prove that your business will create at least ten job opportunities. The regional center is already pre-approved depending on the business model, ensuring that it will indirectly create at least ten job opportunities in the United States.
The $900,000 Investments
In this section, we will help you understand the $900,000 investment better:
What is a regional center?
The regional center, in this case, can be described as:
- A government-approved organization/ entity
- Concentrates on a particular geographic area in the United States and
- Aims to develop economic growth through the creation of job opportunities, extended export trade, and enhanced regional productiveness
Advantages of Investing in a Regional Center
Some of the advantages include:
- There is no need to manage investment actively.
- Unlike the requirement for a $1.8 million investment, you are assumed to have already created ten additional jobs through your investment in regional investment.
- You invest less money. Unlike the investment needed for permanent residency, you need only to find half of the $1.8 million.
- Compared to the other investment, the process is more comfortable and much quicker since the government already approves the regional center for EB-5 investors.
About the $1,800,000 Investments
If you invest $1.8 million in an industry of your choice and any location, you permanently become a U.S resident.
How to Invest $1.8 Million
There are three possible ways of investing:
- Starting a new business
- Buying an already existing business and modifying it
- Buying an unstable business and retaining job opportunities or expanding it by 140%.
Advantages Of Investing $1.8 million
- You have full control over your business/ investment.
- You have the freedom to choose the type of business you want to invest in.
- You also have the freedom to choose your employees.
- You have the freedom to choose where your business will be located.
- It may not be as risky as compared to the other investment since the project is not set up in a distress/ high unemployment area.
Categories of Immigrant Investor Visa
There are four classes of investment visas, which include:
- C5 visas for establishing jobs outside the intended area
- T5 visas for establishing jobs with the intended areas
- R5 visas for investor pilot programs out of the intended area
- I5 visas for investor pilot programs around the intended area
The application process involves:
Filing a Petition
You are supposed to file Form 1-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) with the USCIS for you to be evaluated for the E5 immigrant investor visa. Note that you do not need a labor certification.
Before applying for an immigrant visa with the United States embassy, your form 1-526 petition must be authorized by the USCIS.
Payment and Visa Application
Following your petition approval by the USCIS, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center. After receiving it, they give the petition a case number. The NVC will then instruct you to file Form DS-261, the choice of address, and agent after your priority date meets the qualifying date. In case you have a personal immigration attorney, you will not be asked to fill form DS-261. Your case will start its pre-processing, and the NVC will issue you the instructions to pay the required amount. After spending the necessary amount, the NVC will request you to submit the necessary immigrant visa documentation, like the application forms and other legal documents.
Can My Immigrant Visa Be Used By My Family Members?
Depending on your petition, you and your children under twenty-one years and your spouse can apply for immigrant visas together. They should also go through the necessary process of filling the application forms, paying the fees, presenting the required document, and undergoing various medical tests.
Note that children under the age of twenty-one, and spouses of the same gender, are currently entitled to common immigration advantages just like spouses of the opposite sex. After receiving their receipts of approval of I-130 or I-140, the consul officers and the consulates at the U.S embassy will arbitrate their applications for immigrant visas.
The Numerical Restrictions
The immigrant investor visas are distributed in sequential arrangement when filing the petitions until the specific category's yearly analytical limit is hit. Note that the date you file your petition is your priority date, and you can not be issued with an immigrant visa until that date is reached.
You may have to wait for years before your priority date is reached in other categories that are oversubscribed.
There are certain services that you pay the fees for. They include:
- Medical examination and vaccinations
- Application of Form I-526 (Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur), which is billed by the USCIS
- Form DS-260(which involves the processing of the immigrant visa application).
- Other charges include photocopying fees, translations, consulate for visa interviews, and payments to travel to the U.S Embassy. Also, note that costs are different in each case.
Every intending immigrant must pay the fees, which are non-refundable regardless of their age. You should not pay any fees to the NVC or at the U.S Embassy or consulate where your visa interview is held except if you have been asked to make the payments. The NVC will give you instructions on whom to make the payments to and when to pay the fees.
The Required Documentation
Some of the required documents include:
- Form DS-260 — This is the Immigrant visa and Alien Registration Application.
- Passports — You should have a valid passport for more than six months beyond the day you intend to move to the U.S unless the Consulate requests validity for a more extended period in your country of birth.
- Two Photographs — You should confirm the required format in the photograph requirements when filing your application.
- Civil Documents — You should also check out the documents needed and the documents that require translation. During your visa interview, you may be asked for additional documents by the consular office. The typical forms that you should not leave behind are the original marriage certificate(or certified copies), your birth certificate, and other legal documents( could be original or certified copies). After the visa interview, your translations, as well as your original documents, may be returned to you.
- Medical Examinations Forms — The panel physician should complete these medical forms after undergoing the required medical tests and vaccinations.
After the NVC approves your application form and the documents presented, they will schedule an interview appointment for you. The NVC later forwards your application file with your required documents and petition to the U.S embassy to take your visa interview. You, your attorney, and a third party agent will receive an email or a letter notifying you of your interview dates and time. The email/letter will also contain instructions and guidance for acquiring a medical examination.
You should remember to carry a valid passport and any other required documentation not issued by the NVC(see above). According to the U.S immigration law, a consular officer will conduct your interview and decide whether you are eligible for the immigrant visa. You will also be taken digital fingerprints scans on the same day of your interview.
Vaccinations and Medical Examinations
Before attending your visa interview, you are required to schedule and attend your medical examination as well as any necessary vaccination. Note that you should go through a thorough medical examination before granting the immigrant visa, which is supposed to be carried out by a certified panel physician. You will be issued with detailed directions of the medical examinations together with details for authorized panel physicians.
Before you are granted the immigrant visa, you are supposed to obtain specific vaccinations. You should receive detailed guidance on the same from the NVC.
How Long Does it Take?
Depending on your numerical limited visa category, your immigrant investor visa may take some additional time. There is no specific accuracy for the length of time each case takes. Cases are different, and each case takes extra time. Claims that do not follow instructions well are automatically delayed. Moreso, specific visa applications need more managerial processing, which often takes more schedules following the interviews.
Various activities may cause your ineligibility for a visa. Some of the activities are:
- Submitting fake documents
- Dealing with drug trafficking
- Outstaying on a previous visa
The consular officer will inform you if you are not eligible for a visa, and he/she will advise you if there is a possible waiver available for your case. The consular officer will also give you details and requirements for the waiver process(if any).
Misrepresentation of Material Fraud
If you attempt to acquire a visa by intentionally misrepresenting material, you risk being banned from permanently obtaining a U.S visa.
Points To Note After You Have Your Immigrant Visa
After you are granted the immigrant visa, you will also be given your passport with the immigrant visa and a "sealed packet" with the presented files. You are not supposed to open the sealed packet at all costs. When you enter the U.S, a United States immigration official will open the package. Remember, you are supposed to be in the United States before the date recorded on your visa expires. If you are the principal applicant, you should arrive in the U.S at the same time or even before your family members, each holding their visas.
The USCIS Immigrant Fee
After receiving your immigrant visa and before entering the U.S, you are supposed to finance the USCIS foreigner fee to the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). You will not be issued with the constant Resident Card (Green Card or Form I-551).
Entering The United States
For a native to move to the United States port of entry and ask for authorization to go into the U.S, he/she must have a valid visa. However, you should know that a permit does not always promise that you will get into the U.S. The CBP, DHS (Custom and Border Protection), and U.S customs officials have the power to grant or oppose your admission to the U.S. Before traveling to the U.S, kindly review the admission and entry requirements to avoid cases of being denied entry permission.
How Can I Apply For a Social Number Card?
If, when filling the immigrant visa application, you are selected to get your “social security number card” on an entry in the U.S. as a foreigner, you will be mailed your card through the mail you chose in the U.S during your petition. The card usually arrives around six weeks after your acceptance. In case you failed to select your “social security number card” automatically, you should apply to get the card after you arrive in the U.S.
What Are The Steps Of Obtaining Green Card (Permanent Residence) Through the EB-5 Program
For you to become a permanent U.S resident through the EB-5 visa program, you have to complete four significant steps. These steps include:
Locating An EB-5 Project
The first step you are supposed to do is find a suitable project to venture in. The EB-5 business projects are either in the form of regional center projects or new commercial enterprises. The foreign migration agents will offer you guidance to find the project that best suits our needs. You also have to have met the required accredited investor income for you to be allowed to proceed with the process.
Capital Investment and I-526 Petition
After locating the project you want to invest in, you should ensure that you make the capital investment required in the project. In most cases, the assets are made through an escrow account. Your immigration lawyer will then provide proof for the specific investment with the USCIS by completing the I-526 petition. From around 31 to 52 months, the USCIS will inform you if your I-526 petition has been approved. In most cases, if your I-526 petition is declined, you will be refunded your investment.
Conditional Permanent Residency For Two Years
The next step is for you to be a conditional resident of the U.S for two dependent years so that you can execute the project funded by your EB-5 investment. After the USCIS has approved your I-526, you are eligible to become a United States resident. There are ways in which you can attain the residency. They include:
- If you have legal status in the U.S, you are supposed to file Form I-485 to modify your status to conditional permanent resident.
- In case you do not have legal status in the U.S, you are supposed to file Form DS-260 to apply for an immigrant visa. This form will be processed by the National Visa Center and processed through the U.S Embassy from their home country.
The two steps need the help of an immigration lawyer who is experienced and has the required skills.
I-829 Petition and The Unconditional Permanent Residency
For you to become an unconditional permanent resident, you have to remove the two-year conditional status. You should submit the I-829 petition to the USCIS ninety days before 2nd year of the date you received your conditional residency. This filing is proof that you have met all the requirements for the EB-5 visa program. After submitting this application, expect your green card in 22 to 45 months. After receiving the green card, you and your family(spouse and children under 21 years) can live and work permanently in the U.S. Five years after receiving your conditional residency; you can apply to become U.S citizens.
EB-5 Investments Using Cryptocurrencies
With the accretion of cryptocurrencies, digital assets holders may be able to use their cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for the EB-5 program to create the required investments and obtain permanent resident status in the United States.
The USCIS EB-5 chief urged that as long as the general requirements are met, cryptocurrencies(bitcoin) could certainly qualify under EB-5 Program. But on many occasions, you will be required to convert the cryptocurrencies into dollars. So far, at least one regional center has announced its accepting bitcoin to fund the EB-5 projects.
The Benefits of EB-5 Visa
After obtaining an EB-5 visa, you can:
- Work, live, and study in the United States as well as your family
- Obtain a green card that can be renewed continuously
- Move-in and out of the United States without applying for a visa
- Travel to the states that permit visa-free passage to the green card-holders
- Apply for citizenship after a few years
- If you invested wisely, you could have your capital investment back
- Get a chance to receive American healthcare
Risks Involved In The EB-5 Program
There are various risks involved with the EB-5 program. Your wealth will be in liquidity investments; hence you must learn some of the risks associated with this investment before venturing into it. The most common hazards include:
- Rejection of Your Petition — One of the significant risks involved is that before filing your I-526 petition, you have to first invest without an assurance of your petition approval. The other risk involved is when your EB-5 investment fails in under the first two years. It mainly means that the investment cannot create the ten job requirements, or the project has become bankrupt. In case of such circumstances, the conditions will remain on your green card.
- Regional Center Failure — Deciding to invest through a regional center can be advantageous, but it also has its shortcomings. Even though the USCIS is responsible for the local centers' approval, it does not offer investor protection. You should do a deep and thorough background check before investing in a regional center since some centers are fraudulent or keep failing. If this happens within the first two years, the conditions will remain on your green card.
- Fraudulence — The risk of being aimed by the fraudsters is high. Some people or firms will say they have "immigration consultants" or "migration brokers," but they are fraudsters in reality. It may make you lose a lot of cash when paying their excessive fees, and you could also invest in a regional center that is fraudulent.
Find an Investment Immigration Attorney Near Me
To avoid these potential risks, you must work with an immigration attorney who has experience in EB-5 visa law. An investment immigration attorney will also make sure that you have completed each step of the process. At the California Immigration Attorney, we will help you select a suitable investment, help you fill your application forms, and help you protect your investment. Contact us today at 424-789-8809 for professional services.