Foreign nationals from all over the world dream of a better and brighter future in the United States. Fortunately, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers the perfect way to make their immigration goals a reality. The program offers foreign nationals and their immediate family members the chance to obtain U.S. green cards in exchange for a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise (NCE).
Every EB5 investment must satisfy the program’s eligibility requirements, such as the minimum investment amount requirement, the source-of-funds requirement, and the job creation requirement. Prospective investors should conduct thorough research to determine which EB-5 project they want to invest in and whether they plan to work with an EB-5 regional center. After selecting a project, an investor must transfer their investment capital to the designated escrow account and submit their I-526 petition.
How Early Should You Prepare an I-526 Petition?
When completing an I-526 petition, an investor has to gather all of the necessary information needed to satisfy the requirements of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Generally, there are many supporting documents that must be submitted with an investor’s petition to prove that their EB5 investment meets all the program’s requirements. Gathering all the supporting documents can be a time-consuming task, so EB-5 investors are advised to begin preparing their I-526 petition well in advance.
Completing the information part of the I-526 petition is fairly simple. Investors must provide personal information about themselves and any eligible family members they choose to include on their application. They must also include information regarding their EB-5 investment, the EB-5 project, and the EB-5 regional center, if they are investing through one.
For the supporting documents, an investor must include identifying documents for themselves and their family members, as well as documents that prove that the investment capital was transferred to the escrow account. Typically, an investor can use bank statements and records of the money transfer. The most challenging part of completing an I-526 petition is usually the source-of-funds requirement: investors must show that their EB-5 investment capital was acquired from legal sources. Investors can acquire their capital from multiple different sources, as long as it can all be traced back to lawful sources. The best way to ensure all these requirements are being met is to work closely with an experienced immigration attorney who can confirm that all the necessary information is being included.
It should also be noted that if the investor includes documents that are not in English, certified translations must be included along with them.
Other Reasons for Delays with I-526 Petition Preparation
The process of completing an I-526 petition can also be affected by many other factors outside of the collection of necessary accompanying documents. When initially planning an EB5 investment, prospective investors should take the time to research any potential projects and EB-5 regional centers. It’s crucial that the EB-5 project and regional center are operated by experienced professionals with a solid track record and reputation, especially in light of the EB-5 regional center terminations that have taken place throughout 2020. Investors should also carefully review the terms and conditions of their investment to ensure they are comfortable with the conditions of the agreement and their managerial responsibilities in the EB-5 project.
If an investor chooses to invest in a project in a targeted employment area (TEA), it is also the investor’s responsibility to prove the project’s TEA eligibility on their I-526 petition. Many investors choose to seek out TEA projects because they qualify for a lower minimum investment amount—for a standard EB-5 investment, the minimum investment amount required is $1.8 million, but if the project is in a TEA, the minimum investment amount is reduced to $900,000. If an investor plans to invest the lower amount, they must provide the appropriate documentation that justifies their project’s TEA designation.
Unfortunately, there are also potential I-526 petition delays that are out of the investor’s control.
For instance, it is not uncommon for EB-5 investors to face unreasonably long wait times during the adjudication process. Depending on the investor’s country of citizenship and the state of visa backlogs, investors could wait up to two to five years for their petition to be approved. Investors should take note of the possibly delays and wait times and plan accordingly so that the delays do not negatively impact their future business or immigration plans.
The Importance of Hiring an Immigration Attorney
The greatest asset an EB-5 investor can have is an experienced immigration attorney. Working closely with an immigration attorney can ensure that an investor’s I-526 petition is prepared and submitted in an adequate amount of time. An attorney can also review the petition and the supporting documents to help ensure it has the best chance of being approved and avoiding unnecessary delays.