The process of getting a green card through the EB-5 visa has 2 main steps. You first become a conditional permanent resident for 2 years. After which, you file a petition to remove this condition in order to gain unconditional permanent residency by showing that you officially created 10 jobs for US workers, and that you kept your capital invested in the US business for the entire period of time
The first step to applying for the visa is to make sure you are eligible for the visa.
Before applying for the visa, generally, a foreign investor must be able to demonstrate in the EB-5 application that his or her enterprise will render some benefit to the US economy through the conduct of its business.
Under the EB-5 program, investors would be required to meet the minimum required investment amount is presently $1,800,000 in direct investments or $900,000 in investments made outside the so-called targeted employment areas (“TEA”).
Foreign investors would, first, have to select an investment and invest your funds. Select an EB-5 investment that you are comfortable with (after doing a lot of due diligence).
Once you’ve chosen your investment, invest your funds in the new commercial enterprise. When you file the Form I-526 you must show that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing your capital into the new commercial enterprise.
This can be done through the transfer of your funds into an escrow account. (The release of funds would be conditional on I-526 approval and adjustment of status or visa issuance.)
· If you need investment advice, you should consider using a Registered Investment Advisor or a Broker/Dealer. Make sure they are competent in the EB-5 program.
· Evidence of mere intent to invest at a later date is insufficient.
In order to obtain his or her permanent green card through the EB-5 program, a foreign investor must generally go through two main steps before he or she is eligible to apply for US citizenship.
Step 1 - File Form I-526
After gathering all the necessary documents, the first step would involve the foreign investor filing an I-526 petition along with substantial supporting documentation.
The main purpose of this petition is to show to USCIS how the investment will create, or otherwise preserve, the required ten full-time jobs; that the investment is at-risk; that a foreign investor’s investment capital comes from a lawful source of funds; and that a foreign investor is involved in the management of a for-profit enterprise either through daily management activities or through policy formulation (most frequently, a foreign investor becomes a limited partner in a limited partnership or a member in a limited liability company).
Step 2 - Adjustment of Status/Visa Processing
If your I-526 is approved, you are eligible to apply for conditional permanent residency (a 2-year conditional green card).
This intermediate step after approval of the foreign investor's I-526 petition in the US entails either a consular processing step, if the investor is outside the United States; or adjustment of status to that of a conditional permanent resident if the investor is physically in the US in another lawful immigration status at the time of his or her I-526 petition approval.
Essentially, there are 2 ways to get your conditional green card. Depending on if you are inside or outside of the US, you will either adjust status in the US or you will go through consular processing abroad.
Adjustment of Status is done by filing a Form I-485
Consular processing is done by filing a Form DS-260
Step 3 - File Form I-829
Upon completion of the above intermediate processing step, the principal investor (as well as the investor’s spouse and children under the age of 21 at the time of the filing of the I-526 petition) will receive a conditional permanent resident status in the United States for the period of two years.
Within 90 days of the two-year anniversary of the initial grant of permanent resident status, the principal investor must submit the I-829 petition to USCIS to remove the conditions on his/her conditional green card
The Form I-829 will allow you to become an unconditional permanent resident (a green card holder).
You are eligible to get the condition removed from your green card if you meet all the requirements of the EB-5 program. This is done by showing that your investment in the project was sustained and that you created the required 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
Step 4 - Permanent resident status
Upon approval of the investor’s I-829 petition, the principal investor, including his or her immediate family members, receives indefinite permanent resident status in the United States.
Within 90 days of the five-year anniversary of the initial grant of permanent resident status, the principal investor and his immediate family members may apply for and obtain US citizenship.
1. I-526 Processing
It currently takes about 18 months on average for USCIS to process an I-526. (The 18-month timeline is expected to improve in the future)
2. Conditional Permanent Residency
For 2 years you are a conditional green card holder, until approval of your I-829 petition. During this 2 year period, you can live and work in the USA.
3. I-829 Processing
The current processing time for the Form I-829 is roughly 2.5 years. (This processing time is expected to speed-up in the future)
4. Permanent Residency (Green Card)
Once your I-829 is approved you are a permanent resident.
After being a permanent resident for at least 5 years, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization to become a US citizen.
Alternative route - Hire an Immigration Attorney
Many applicants opt to hire an experienced immigration attorney to help them through the EB-5 process. While you can do this application process alone, an experienced attorney will reduce your chances of getting your visa rejected.
An attorney will also be able to help you determine whether the EB-5 visa is the right option for you based on your immigration goals and circumstances.
They will work as your partner through the entire EB-5 process and analyze your EB-5 investment for immigration compliance. They will also prepare all the necessary documents to make sure that you meet all the EB-5 visa requirements.
An attorney may be able to provide you with any business-related investment advice provided they are competent to do so. He/she can also help you make sure that the investment is compliant with the immigration requirements of the EB-5 visa program.