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EB-5 visas allow nationals from any country to obtain permanent residence in the US (ie, a Green Card) after investing heavily in a commercial enterprise in the US. The required level of investment is quite high: $900,000 or $1.8 million, depending on the geographic area where the US commercial enterprise is located. However, the primary benefit of the investment is quite valuable: green cards for the applicant, as well as the applicant’s spouse and children. And after a few years the applicant will be eligible to apply for a US passport.
While the I-526 is the primary form used to apply for initial EB-5 visa approval, additional forms and supporting documents must be submitted in the process of applying for the visa and green card. These forms, as well as the overall EB-5 visa application process, are quite complex. We answer some of the more common questions regarding the EB-5 visa below. For in-depth guidance regarding your specific plans and goals, contact us for a consultation.
All nationalities are eligible for the EB-5 investment visa. This is one key difference from the E2 investor visa, which is only available to investors who are nationals of certain countries.
Yes. Spouses and minor children of the investor/applicant are also eligible to receive the EB-5 visa and green card.
In general, it takes about 24 months to obtain a conditional green card via the EB-5 application process. EB-5 visa applications for Direct Investments are somewhat faster than EB-5 applications for Regional Centers.
Yes. Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each year, but there is overwhelming demand from a handful of countries. To ensure available of the visas to all nationalities, the number of EB-5 visas available to a given country’s native citizens is capped at 7% of the available visas (or 700 visas). There is therefore a backlog of EB-5 visa applications from mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), Vietnam and India. Natives of those countries must therefore wait approximately 16 years (Chinese), 7 years (Vietnamese) or 8 years (Indian) to receive a green card.
Premium processing of the I-526 form that is used in the EB-5 visa application is not allowed.
The money must come from lawful sources, and those lawful sources must be documented in the EB-5 visa application. Money that comes from employment, inheritance, gifts and sales of property are all common sources of funds for EB-5 visas. Loans can also be used, regardless of whether the lender is a bank or a private person (eg, relative or friend). However, the loan amount should be secured by property owned by the EB-5 visa applicant (eg, a house). Moreover, if the loan is from private lenders, those lenders must also show their source of funds.
In addition to documenting the source of the investment funds, EB-5 investors must also document that they had possession of the funds and used lawful means to transfer those funds to the new commercial enterprise in the US.
The standard investment required for an EB-5 visa is $1.8 million.
If the US commercial enterprise is located in a Target Employment Area, the required investment is ‘only’ $900,000.
Target Employment areas are either rural areas or areas that have experienced high unemployment levels (150% of the national average).
EB-5 visa applicants must demonstrate that they will be engaged in the management of the new US commercial enterprise. Day-to-day managerial control satisfies that requirement, but such extensive operational involvement is not necessary. The requirement can be satisfied simply by demonstrating the visa applicant’s involvement in policy formulation for the company.
Yes. A business plan must accompany all EB-5 visa applications. Each business plan must explain how the US commercial enterprise will create 10 new jobs.
Direct Investment projects are usually new US commercial enterprises that are created according to the personal goals and wishes of the EB-5 visa applicant. Nevertheless, the application process using the Direct Investment route is typically faster (compared to applications with Regional Centers). Start-up costs of Direct Investments are also typically lower (compared to those of Regional Centers).
A Regional Center can be thought of as a consortium of investors that undertakes multiple capital investment projects on behalf of numerous EB-5 visa investors. Individual EB-5 investors often participate in the Regional Center as a limited partner. A US commercial enterprise formed by an EB-5 visa project must directly create at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers. With Regional Centers, indirectly created jobs also satisfy the job creation requirement.
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