Frequently Asked Questions
* Who should consider an EB-5 visa?
EB-5 investors include people from all walks of life; professionals, business people, persons wanting to facilitate a child's education, retirees or just who want to seek a better life in the U.S. Once obtained your green card, many investors may continue to work or operate businesses in their home countries. Others may choose to work in the U.S. or become involved in a business in the U.S. Simply put, the EB-5 visa gives you the flexibility to live anywhere and do what you want in the U.S.
* How many visas are allocated each year for EB-5 category?
The EB-5 investment program allocates only 10,000 visas per year for aliens and family members who make qualifying investments and 10 employees must be hired “indirectly” for such investment. [See details below on the 10 employee requirement.]
* Must I speak or read English?
No, you do not need to be proficient in English to apply for a EB-5.
* What are the real benefits of a U.S. green card?
Work – you are allowed to work for any company in the U.S. In some states you can only obtain professional licenses (engineering, real estate agents...etc.) if you have a U.S. green card or a U.S. citizen. Business – you can start your own business anywhere in the U.S. Travel – you can travel anywhere within the U.S. and leave and enter the country with out of being denied at the port of entry. Legal rights – all your legal rights are protected under U.S. law, except the right to vote, which is available after you become an U.S. citizen. Family members – you can sponsor spouse and unmarried children (under 21) in the same green card petition. Even in the unfortunate that event a primary green card holder passes away, the family green card will not be affected. Education– EB-5 visa green card holders enjoys "in-state" or "resident" tuition at all public universities and colleges. Typically it is 2-4 times cheaper than foreign students have to pay. Home – In most cases, it may be much easier to get a home mortgage and/or be charged at lower interest rates. Retirement – EB-5 visa green card holder enjoys the same Social Security benefits as an U.S. citizen if he or she worked for 10 years in the U.S.
Citizenship – Automatically eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship and have a U.S. passport in 5 years or keep your permanent green card forever if you choose not to become a U.S. citizen.
* Must I have previous business experience or education?
No, an EB-5 investor is not required to have any prior business experience or minimum level of education. The only requirement for the investor is that he or she has the required net worth and capital to invest $500,000 and fees. He or she must be able to prove the investment funds come from lawful sources such as: profits from sales of property, stocks or bonds, businesses, business transactions, gifts and inheritances.
* Must I stay in the U.S. at all times?
No, but generally, green card holders need to live in the U.S. for more than 6 months out of a year. If he or she wishes to remain outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months in a year, then he or she should obtain a reentry permit (USCIS form I-131), or potentially be deemed to have abandoned their green card. Upon obtaining your EB-5 visa and entering the U.S. for the first time, an investor should first establish residency in the U.S. through such as opening a bank account, rent/buy a home, get a driver's license/ID, get a social security number and pay state and federal taxes.
* How are the 10 required jobs created?
First of all, the reason a lowered EB-5 investment amount of $500,000 is allowed by USCIS, as oppose to $1 million, is that the project has to be located in a "Target Employment Area" or TEA – either a rural area or an area that experiences a high unemployment rate (150% of national average). However, only through investing in a regional center program, investors do not have to create 10 jobs directly (i.e. hire 10 full-time US workers), because jobs can be created either directly and/or indirectly. Indirect jobs means that jobs will be created over time and are calculated using approved economically or statistically valid forecasting models. Regional Centers usually ensure that the project well exceeds the 10 jobs requirement. By using a Regional Center instead of directly making a 1,000,000 investment, the investor does not have to worry about the job creation requirement or day to day business management.
* What issues have been the most problematic in EB-5 cases?
The most common problem area for EB-5 visa has been insufficient documentation of the source of funds. Due to privacy and sometime cultural reasons, many EB-5 investors would try to disclose the least possible information only to have the file returned with a request for further information. It is better to provide too much information rather than too little information. In this era of terror alerts, and suspicions about money laundering, USCIS case examiners require a
well-documented source of funds.
* What is the difference between "conditional" and "unconditional" green cards?
Under the USCIS regulations, an EB-5 investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa first receives a "conditional" green card, which is valid for two year period. If all investment and residency requirements are met, then USCIS will grant the "unconditional" or permanent green card, which has no expiration date.
* Do I need an immigration attorney?
Yes, it is important for you to have independent legal counsel representing your interests without conflict of Regional Center interests. After making your Regional Center investment, the Attorney helps processes necessary petitions, applications and interviews.
* What type information and documents are required for EB-5 petition?
As an EB-5 investor, you must prepare complete biographical information for each applicant and the principal applicant must prove the source of the investment funds. To prove the source of investment funds, USCIS requires five years of tax returns, five years of bank records, proof of ownership in any businesses and financial statements for each business and business licenses. The idea is to present a track record of an honest course of dealing. If your capital came from a specific transaction, such as sale of a house, inheritance or gift, you must prove the transaction occurred by providing an official document, such as a closing statement or contract or other official documents. This is not an exhaustive list; other documents may be required and vary on a case-by-case basis. Your immigration attorney will guide you through the entire process.
* How long is the processing time for the I-526 petition and the conditional green card?
The length of processing time from submitting the I-526 petition to granting of the conditional green card is approximately 6 to 8 months. It is a two step approval process. First the USCIS, acting as a visa clearing house, reviews and approves the investor's EB-5 application. After the I-526 petition is approved, it is forwarded to the overseas U.S. consulate where the investor needs to file a consulate application and then follow up with an interview before the immigrant visa is granted. If the EB-5 investor is already in the U.S., an adjustment of status will be filed with USCIS instead.
* Once I receive my conditional green card, when do I apply for my permanent green card?
The conditional green card will expire two years from the date issued. Investors may submit their I-829 petition as early as three months prior to the expiration date. The Regional Center will supply all supporting evidence regarding the limited partnership, capital investment and newly created jobs. Once the I-829 petition is filed with the USCIS, your conditional permanent residency is extended for one more year while you awaits for your official approval from USCIS.
* If my I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, what is the purpose of the Consulate application and Interview?
The purpose of this application is to ensure that the investor and his or her family undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks before the conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consulate officer may address these issues and information printed on the I-526 petition, including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his or her immigrant investment. Your immigration attorney will prepare you for the consulate interview.
* After the I-526 petition approval, can members of the family have their consulate interview in different countries (for example if children are attending school in the U.S. and the parents are not in the U.S., etc.)?
Family members can interview in different countries. The country of origin or where the family has current ties is the standard interview site. Often one member of the family is located in another country, such as a student attending school in the U.S. The student does not have to return to the country of origin and can adjust status in the U.S. at the district office of the USCIS.
* Can I apply if I have been rejected by USCIS for other type visa?
Rejection in the past does not disqualify an applicant for EB-5, unless the reasons are related to immigration fraud or other major problems. It is most important that the investor disclose all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration history problems to the Regional Center and the immigration attorney in advance of the petition.