The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program continually changes as a result of adjustments by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to its regulations and processing standards. The program has experienced a number of changes recently, with further changes to come. Below are the answers to frequently asked questions regarding the EB-5 program.
Is the EB-5 program still available?
Direct investment in EB-5 projects is available to foreign nationals indefinitely. The EB-5 Regional Center Program was extended through September 30, 2020 in December 2019, and updates about the program can be found on the USCIS website. Investing through regional centers is a popular option among EB-5 investors, as it allows them to be more hands-off with the projects and to count direct, indirect, and induced jobs toward the EB-5 job creation requirement.
What are the minimum investment requirements for EB-5 projects?
In November 2019, the EB-5 Modernization Rule went into effect and changed the minimum investment requirements for EB-5 projects for the first time in nearly 30 years. The minimum investment for EB-5 projects in a targeted unemployment area (TEA) is now $900,000. The minimum investment forEB-5 projects in non-TEAs is now $1.8 million. These numbers will increase every five years, with the first one in 2024, in line with inflation.
What are the investment options for EB-5 investors?
Direct investment and regional center investment are the two available options for EB-5 investors. The two options share the same end result when completed successfully: lawful permanent residency for investors and their spouses and children in the United States.
Direct investments are for EB-5 investors who want to have more control and be involved in the day-to-day management of the project. They have the potential to be financially lucrative for investors who are experienced project managers.
Regional center investments offer lower financial and immigration risk and are therefore better for EB-5 investors who are more interested in obtaining permanent resident status than investment returns. They also allow investors to be more hands-off than direct investments. An additional benefit of regional center investments is that with them, indirect and induced jobs can be counted toward the EB-5 job creation requirements, increasing the investors’ odds of successfully completing their investments.
There is a myth that regional center EB-5 projects are the only ones that qualify for the $900,000 minimum investment. This is likely a result of regional centers choosing to work mostly with EB-5 projects in TEAs. In reality, as long as the EB-5 projects are located in a TEA, they qualify for the $900,000 minimum investment, regardless of which investment option an investor chooses.
How much time is needed to complete the EB-5 process?
The EB-5 process varies depending on each investor’s unique situation. As of March 2020, the processing time for I-526 petitions is approximately three to four years.
There are several factors that may affect how long the EB-5 process takes for an investor:
- Country of origin–there is a backlog of applications from certain countries
- Complexity of the I-526 petition – this includes how easily funding sources can be traced
- History of the EB-5 project
How does USCIS process the I-526 petitions?Beginning March 31, 2020, USCIS is replacing the first-in-first-out (FIFO) approach with the visa-availability approach for processing I-526 petitions. This means that petitions from countries with available visas will be prioritized. Investors from countries with lower EB-5 demand will benefit from this new approach, while investors from countries with high EB-5 demand will likely experience an increase in the length of time required to complete the EB-5 process. At the time of writing, the FIFO approach is still being used.
Who is the target audience of the EB-5 program?
The EB-5 program is for investors from other countries who want to obtain permanent resident status in the United States. Investors who qualify for the EB-5 program can add their spouse and any unmarried children under 21 to their application so that they can also receive permanent resident status. There are many benefits to being a U.S. permanent resident, including the ability to live, work, travel, study, and do business anywhere in the United States. The children of EB-5 investors who have permanent resident status also have an advantage in the U.S. college admissions process.
What are the requirements to be an EB-5 investor?
To qualify as an investor in the EB-5 program, a foreign national will need to have either $900,000 to invest in a TEA project or $1.8 million to invest in a non-TEA project as well as documentation proving that the funds were obtained lawfully. A foreign national residing in the United States on a different visa will need to be an accredited investor to qualify to invest in the EB-5 program.
What can be used as EB-5 capital?
Acceptable capital for an EB-5 investment can include, but is not limited to, income, sales of assets, loans, gifts, inheritance, and investments.
Can investors with conditional permanent resident status work or study during the EB-5 process?
EB-5 investors granted conditional permanent resident status can live, work, and study anywhere in the United States. Regional center investors, who are not as involved in the management of EB-5 projects as direct investors, do not have to reside near their EB-5 projects. This means that an investor can invest in an EB-5 project in Florida while living in Oregon.
What is the first step for investors interested in the EB-5 program?
When considering an EB-5 investment, the first step that an investor should take is to consult with a knowledgeable EB-5 immigration attorney. The attorney can work with the investor to determine whether the EB-5 program meets the investor’s needs and goals.