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The US EB5 Visa, Green Card, and Pathway US Citizenship

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: February 15, 2024

Gaining lawful entry to live, work, and study in the US is a challenging process. It can be long and tedious, and success is not guaranteed. The US EB-5 Investor Visa program, however, offers a pathway for investors. This program provides permanent residency (and eventually US citizenship) to those who make significant financial contributions to US businesses, appealing to investors willing to invest substantially in the US economy.

The EB-5 and Investment Requirements

Firstly, the EB-5 is not a citizenship-by-investment program. However, there is a pathway to citizenship. The EB-5 immigrant investor program was introduced in 1990 to allow high-net-worth individuals to legally reside in the US after investing in an approved project, usually an investment in a commercial enterprise. In 1992, Congress created the EB-5 Regional Center Program to simplify the investment process and thus attract more investors to stimulate economic growth.

A successful candidate for the EB-5 visa does not receive a limited residence visa per se but rather a pathway to obtaining a green card, which is a permanent residency status in the US.

  • The program allows for 10,000 visas to be issued each year;
  • The minimum EB-5 capital investment amount is $800,000 into a US commercial enterprise; and
  • The investment must create at least ten employment opportunities for US citizens.

 

USA EB-5 residence by investment

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Requirements

The investor needs to complete a few additional EB5 visa requirements before qualifying. GRI suggests that an EB5 lawyer assist applicants as the process can be lengthy, and application errors can lead to further delays.

To qualify for the EB-5 visa program, investors must meet specific financial requirements. Accredited foreign investors, such as financial institutions or insurance companies, automatically meet the criteria. The minimum capital investment amounts vary based on the location of the EB-5 investment projects in rural areas and high unemployment in urban areas.

By the Numbers for the EB-5 Visa Requirements

The EB-5 visa requirements include that accredited foreign investors have a net worth of at least $1,000,000 or an annual income of at least $200,000 for the past two years. The minimum investment amount is $1,050,000 for all projects except those in a targeted employment area (TEA) or infrastructure project administered by a government entity, which requires an EB5 investment amount of $800,000.

Investors must provide documentation that shows the funds used for the investment in a commercial enterprise are from legal sources. Acceptable sources include salary from employment, dividends from a business, inheritance, gifts from family or friends, proceeds from the sale of real estate, and other legitimate sources.

EB-5 Processing Times

Part of the EB-5 investment requirements is that investors should have funds to pay processing, attorney, and other administrative fees before beginning the application process to avoid delays. Immigrant investors must have a clean record to obtain permanent resident status. Background checks will investigate the investor’s finances, political involvement, and criminal history to determine eligibility for US residency.

The EB-5 processing time is not immediate and can be lengthy. There are thousands of EB5 applicants each year, and it takes time to review them individually. Generally, receiving conditional permanent resident status takes approximately two years, and removing the conditions requires another two years. Time frames may be longer as US immigration deals with backlogs, and applicants can wait up to three years. Investors in rural TEA projects get priority processing, which may result in faster conditional permanent resident status receipt.

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Process

As a first step, we recommend contacting one of our experts on the EB-5 program to gather critical information from you. After the free consultation, we’ll ask you to complete a suitability questionnaire and provide proof of your accreditation status, which may include financial statements and proof of income for the past two years.

Once we have determined that the EB-5 program is correct for you, the next step is to select an EB-5 investment project from the available options. Our EB-5 lawyer will provide project documents to review and discuss any questions about investment projects and job creation opportunities.
 

Seeking expert immigration guidance?

Navigating through immigration programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.

During our call, we will:

  • Address any specific questions: We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.
  • Detail every step: We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.
  • Evaluate program suitability: We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.
  • Connect you with local professionals: Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers in the respective country, as well as trusted providers of eligible investment options.

 

 

EB-Regional Centers

After selecting a project, you must sign the necessary paperwork to commit to funding the project. You must transfer the EB-5 investment amount from $800,000 to $1,050,000 into an escrow account. The transfer ensures that the investment funds are available when needed following the approval of your application.

To reduce the EB-5 processing time, our lawyers ensure applicants follow regulations and submit documents correctly and promptly. The EB-5 lawyers provide you with valuable advice during this process and assist in making sure everything is up to standard.

Finally, you must complete and file your EB-5 application through the EB-5 lawyer. This application can be lengthy and complex, but with the right help and guidance, the EB-5 processing time will be reduced.

EB-5 Forms and Submissions

There are three separate submissions for approval of the EB-5 investment projects. Each submission goes through a review process; thus, the EB-5 visa processing times for each submission can be anywhere from a few months to two years.

The costs for forms and submissions include the following:

  • Form I-526E (Immigration Application by Regional Center Investor);
  • Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and;
  • Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status).

Form submissions follow the stages throughout the investment process above, and each step carries its own set of costs. We have provided a breakdown of fees for each application or stage of residency:

First stage: Filing Form I-526E

  • Initial investment capital total amount (for TEA or infrastructure projects) $800,000 or $1,050,000;
  • Initial application fee (paid to USCIS) $3,675 and $1,000 EB-5 integrity fund fee; and
  • Other fees in this stage may include attorney’s fees, report writing fees, and money transfer fees.

Second stage: Filing Form I-485 (can be filed concurrently with Form I-526E)

  • USCIS filing fees (per family member over age 14) are $1,140;
  • USCIS filing fees (per family member under age 14) are $750;
  • USCIS processing fees are $490; and
  • Attorney and money transfer fees.

Third stage: Filing Form I-829

  • USCIS processing fee of $3,750; and
  • Attorney’s fees, processing fees, and money transfer fees.

 

USA EB-5 regional center projects

EB-5 Investment Projects and Regional Centers Around the US

The investor will need to invest in an approved EB-5 Regional Center. There are several types of EB-5 regional center programs, and each has its own projects. A Regional Center is a private or public economic entity that is designated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to promote economic growth through job creation in a specific geographic area of the US.

EB-5 investment project location may qualify as a targeted employment area (TEA) as determined by USCIS. TEAs reduce the EB-5 direct investment amount to $800,000. Rural TEAs can have up to 20,000 residents, be located in a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), or border a municipality with a population of 20,000 or more people.

A TEA urban area is a high unemployment area located within the boundaries of a metropolitan statistical area (MSA), defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The projects available constantly are changing and include a variety of investment opportunities.

Types of EB-5 Investment Projects

Regional Centers typically sponsor a variety of investment opportunities that meet the requirements of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, such as creating or preserving at least ten full-time jobs for US workers. Some examples of investments that EB-5 investors can make through Regional Centers include:

  • Real estate developments: New commercial and residential projects or refurbishments;
  • Infrastructure projects: This can consist of the development of airports, seaports, highways, and bridges;
  • Energy projects: In the development of renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, as well as traditional energy sources;
  • Manufacturing projects: The establishment of factories or the expansion of existing manufacturing facilities; and
  • Agricultural projects: Investing in the development of farms or the expansion of existing agricultural operations.

Pathway to a US Green Card and US Citizenship

An investor who uses the EB-5 investment projects and is successful in their application has a clear pathway to becoming a US Green Card holder. There are specific background finance checks, and the investment must be sourced legally and cannot be borrowed funds. Investors may use cash or cash equivalents such as certificates of deposit and treasury bonds to obtain this type of immigrant visa.

If the applicant meets all the conditions, the EB-5 immigrant visa holder will be eligible to apply for a US Green Card after two years. The Green Card investment holder can now work towards US citizenship. The program is not a direct US citizenship by investment program, but the EB-5 is far easier than other residency routes to citizenship. After being a permanent resident (holding a Green Card investment) for five years, the investor and their family can apply for US citizenship.

 

Closing Thoughts on the EB-5

There are potential other Golden Visa or Investment Residence opportunities for investors. Greece and Spain Golden Visas are popular in Europe, while citizenship programs in the Caribbean and Turkey provide second citizenship and passport to investors within months.

We understand that every client has unique needs and goals, and we take the time to understand their priorities before developing a customized strategy that aligns with their objectives. Our commitment to excellence and attention to detail ensure our clients receive the highest service and support throughout their investment migration journey.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discover how we can help you achieve your global citizenship aspirations.

FAQs

What is EB-5 Immigrant Investor Residence?

The EB-5 immigrant investor residence is a US residency status from making a qualifying investment in a US business. It allows the investor and their immediate family to obtain an immigrant visa that enables them to live, work, and study in the United States and can lead to a Green Card and US citizenship.

What is the minimum EB-5 investment amount?

The minimum EB-5 investment amount is $800,000 for TEAs and $1,050,000 for non-TEA projects. There are other fees to consider, including legal, form submissions, and the visa application itself.

Is the program a US citizenship by investment?

No, the EB-5 program provides legal residence in the US. Investors and their family members can apply for a US Green card after two years of residency, holding the investment, and creating ten jobs. Applicants can apply ninety days before the two years of living in the US.

Where can I make my investment?

There are specialized EB-5 investment projects that allow applicants to invest in approved projects. The investor must complete the transaction through an EB-5 Regional Center.

What is the EB-5 processing time for investors?

After submitting the I-526 Immigrant petition application, investors can wait two to three years for approval. However, investors can improve their EB-5 processing time by investing in a Rural TEA project.

Can I make a return on my investment?

Yes, the EB-5 program is an actual investment with no donation component. The success will lie in how well the development, business, or project does. Investors can be hands-on or hands-on with their projects. It is entirely up to the applicant.

Is an EB-5 lawyer necessary to be successful?

Investors are allowed to make their applications without the assistance of an EB-5 lawyer. Significant documentation, processing, and a large amount of capital are required. A GRI-qualified EB-5 lawyer will help you navigate the end-to-end process.

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.

GET PERSONALIZED GUIDANCE

During our call, we will:

Here is what to expect from a call with our advisory team:

1

We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.

2

We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.

3

We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.

4

Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers in the respective country, as well as trusted providers of eligible investment options.