For over three decades, the EB-5 investment program has helped foreign nationals enjoy permanent resident status in the United States. The popularity of the program increased in 2021 because the minimum investment thresholds were reduced in June. Interested foreign nationals can now participate in the EB-5 program with a minimum investment of just $500,000 for EB-5 projects located in targeted employment areas (TEAs), or $1,000,000 for EB-5 projects in other areas.
In addition, the immediate family members of an EB-5 investor are also able to obtain permanent resident status in the United States. In this case, immediate family is defined as an investor’s spouse and dependent children under the age of 21.
Advantages for an Investor’s Children
There are many benefits to relocating to the United States. The country has the largest economy in the world, excellent infrastructure, and political stability. In addition, foreign nationals are often drawn to the United States because of its safety and cultural diversity.
For investors with children, there are additional advantages to permanent U.S. residency. Children of investors are able to access the world-class U.S. public education system for free.
Further, university applications from permanent residents are more successful than those of international students. An EB-5 investor’s children are subject to in-state tuition fees and may be eligible for certain grants and scholarships. By holding a green card, a student is also allowed to work during their education without restrictions. Together, these factors mean that permanent resident status offers a significant advantage to college students looking to study and work in the United States.
How to Obtain an EB-5 Visa
While understanding bureaucratic visa processes is important for anyone considering relocation, it is especially important for foreign nationals who will be bringing family members with them. Investors interested in the EB-5 process must fully understand the steps involved in order to navigate it successfully.
The first visa petition that an investor will need to file is Form I-526. This petition must demonstrate to USCIS that the EB-5 investment complies with the applicable regulations. Amongst other things, the investor must prove that the business they subscribed to qualifies as an EB-5 project and that the capital used for the investment was obtained through legal means.
USCIS can take years to process I-526 petitions, and the process can be delayed further if there are inconsistencies or inaccuracies in the data provided. However, once the petition is approved, the investor can apply for conditional green cards for themselves and their family. This conditional permanent resident status is limited to two years but allows the EB-5 investor and their family members to live, travel, work, and study anywhere in the United States.
In the 90 days before the conditional permanent residency expires, an investor must submit a second visa petition to USCIS: Form I-829. Through this petition, and the documentary evidence they provide, the investor must demonstrate that their EB-5 capital was successful and remained compliant with all EB-5 regulations. In particular, they must prove that the required jobs were created and that the EB-5 investment capital remained at risk. Following approval of the I-829 petition, permanent resident status is awarded to the investor and their family. If they continue to reside in the United States for a further five years, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The EB-5 investment program offers a range of benefits, both to the investor and their family. However, it is important for foreign nationals to consider various aspects of the process in order to navigate it effectively. Prospective investors are advised to consult with EB5 experts to identify suitable investment opportunities and take advantage of the low investment thresholds currently in place.