Conditional lawful permanent resident (CLPR) status is what EB-5 investors receive upon approval of I-526 petitions, the first of two petitions they must submit to obtain permanent residency in the United States. In order to be eligible, the $900,000 or $1.8 million they invest in an EB-5 project must be kept in “at-risk” status throughout the duration of the investment, and they must provide evidence that forecasts the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs as a result of their investment. Upon approval of their I-526 by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), investors receive conditional permanent resident status and may move to the US to begin the first stage of their new life.
How Long Does Conditional Permanent Resident Status Last?
For both conditional and unconditional permanent resident status, the green card you receive from UCSIS will clearly display the expiration date of your permanent resident status. Conditional permanent resident status expires automatically after two years. Overstaying can result in deportation, so EB-5 investors must spend these two years mindfully working toward unconditional permanent residency.
Removing Conditions on Permanent Resident Status
The second of the two petitions EB-5 investors must file is the I-829 petition, which, upon approval, grants the investor unconditional permanent residency. I-829 petitions must be submitted within 90 days before the investor’s conditional permanent resident status expires. With unconditional permanent residency, investors have most of the same rights as U.S. citizens, and they only have three additional years to live in the US before they can apply for the naturalization process.
Failure to file an I-829 between the 21st and 24th months of conditional permanent residency in the US can result in the termination of an investor’s permanent resident status. Unless investors can demonstrate that they were unable to submit the petition on time due to extenuating circumstances, they and their dependents will be deported.
The Challenges Associated With the I-829 Petition
For most EB-5 investors, preparing the I-829 petition in a timely and correct manner poses the main challenge to removing the conditions from their immigrant status.
Part of the I-829 petition for EB-5 investors requires proving that the $900,000 or $1.8 million investment created (or saved) at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens or residents. In order to be approved for unconditional permanent resident status, the investor must additionally demonstrate that any other requirements of the I-526 approval have also been fulfilled. To prove that the EB-5 investment has met all the requirements of the EB-5 program, investors typically need to include documentation related to job creation, such as I-9s, W-2s, and payroll records, as well as documentation related to the business, such as business licenses, a property lease, financial reports, and other relevant documents. Failure to provide sufficient evidence that the investment fulfills all the requirements can result in denial and subsequent deportation.
Most investors enlist the help of EB-5 professionals to make sure their I-526 and I-829 petitions are properly organized and contain all the right information. The few that choose to prepare the petition themselves are exposing themselves to additional risk and must be fully familiar with all the requirements of the EB-5 visa program to be successful.
The Unique Conditions of Each Investor and Project
There is no one-size-fits-all template for I-526 and I-829 because all investors and projects are different. Investments in EB-5 projects in targeted employment areas (TEAs), for instance, are subject to lower minimum investment amounts than projects outside of TEAs. Requirements also differ depending on whether the applicant invested in the project directly or via a regional center, since regional center projects can count indirect and induced jobs as well as direct jobs in their job creation.
The main reason most investors participate in the EB-5 program is to obtain U.S. permanent residency, so understanding the rules and properly filling out the I-526 and I-829 petitions is crucial. To minimize immigration risk, we strongly recommend that all EB-5 investors work closely with EB-5 professionals and immigration attorneys when making decisions and preparing their petitions.