Permanently immigrating to the United States is a lifelong dream for many foreign nationals, but it can be a complicated process. Even more difficult is finding a way to permanently relocate one’s immediate family along with them. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program could be the perfect answer—this program allows foreign nationals to receive a U.S. green card in exchange for a qualifying investment in an EB-5 project. Fortunately, the program allows the investor to also include their spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 on their I-526 petition. This enables their immediate family members to obtain U.S. green cards as well.
To begin the EB-5 journey, investors must first complete their I-526 petition, where they prove that they have invested the minimum amount required. The program requires all investors to invest a minimum amount of $1.8 million in an EB-5 project. However, if the project is in a targeted employment area (TEA), the minimum requirement is halved, making it $900,000. In addition, EB-5 investors must prove that all of their investment capital has come from legal sources.
Upon receiving I-526 approval, investors can continue the next step of applying for their EB-5 visa, which is contingent on their country having a “current” final action date in the monthly Visa Bulletin. EB-5 investors and their immediate family members apply for their EB-5 visas at the same time, subject to the requirements of providing the necessary information and completing any required forms. Next, the family is given a date for a visa interview, which will determine whether they are eligible for U.S. green cards.
After receiving visas, the investor and their family members must enter the United States within a certain amount of time. The investor must enter the United States before or at the same time as their family members. The family is initially granted conditional permanent resident status for two years. At the end of the two-year period, the investor must file Form I-829 to request that the conditions be removed. On this petition, the investor must prove that their investment has met all the requirements of the EB-5 program and that they are now eligible for unconditional permanent resident status.
Investors should know that their conditional permanent resident status is only conditional in terms of the time period. During these two years, investors and their family members are free to live, work, and study anywhere in the United States.
Options for Children Who Are Ineligible
Unfortunately, not all children are eligible to receive an EB-5 visa. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) definition of “child” only includes children who are younger than 21 and unmarried. This means that if an investor has any children who are married or are 21 or older, they will have to find another way to immigrate. One option is for the investor to live as a permanent resident in the United States for five years, apply for U.S. citizenship, and then sponsor their child as a citizen. Another option is to gift their child the money to fund their own EB-5 investment. This is a common choice for parents who want to offer their children a better future in the United States.
There are many benefits that attract foreign nationals to the EB-5 program. It is particularly appealing to those wishing to study at one of the many U.S. universities. An EB-5 visa qualifies students for in-state tuition benefits and can make for a much easier admission process. An EB-5 visa also allows students to pursue job opportunities with no restrictions during and after college.