The EB-5 is the only classification in the investment-based green card category. It is available to foreign entrepreneurs who wish to gain lawful permanent residency in the United States by investing a significant amount of capital in the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. workers.
Investment-Based Green Card Requirements
In order to be eligible for an EB-5 investment-based green card, you must fulfill the following requirements:
- You must be free of criminal charges or past violations of your status.
- You must either invest at least $1,000,000 in any U.S. enterprise or at least $500,000 in an enterprise located in a rural area or area with high levels of unemployment in the U.S.
- You must also have already obtained approval for an I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
What is the Process?
Because part of the requirements is a previously-approved I-526, the first step should be to file this petition as soon as possible. Fortunately, unlike some of the other employment-based green card categories, the EB-5 allows beneficiaries to self-petition.
Once your petition has been approved, your next step will depend on whether or not you are currently inside the U.S.
If you are in the U.S. when your petition is approved, you can file an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status as long as your priority date is current.
If you are currently outside the U.S., then you will need to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country when a visa number becomes available. This is a process called Consular Processing and may require an in-person interview with an immigration officer. Speak with your Eb-5 attorney to learn more about Consular Processing.
Green Card Through Investment Processing Time
There are several factors that play into your investment-based green card processing time. One such factor is your I-526. Because this filed with a local USCIS service center, your processing time will be dependent on how busy that particular service center is. On average, however, it may take up to six months to process.
Another factor is your immigrant visa fee. The USCIS clearly states that it will not begin processing your green card until you have paid this fee. Once the payment is received, you may need to wait up to 120 days for processing.
Also, like with any other green card, you must wait for your priority date to be current. Your priority date is the day that the USCIS receives your petition. When that date matches or passes the final action dates posted in the Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin, your priority date will be considered current and you will be able to submit your I-485 to adjust your status.
Fortunately, almost all of the dates for the EB-5 green card are current. The only country that does not have a current date is China, which as of March 2017 has a three-year wait time.
As soon as you are able to file your I-485, you may need to wait 90 days before you receive your employment authorization card and travel documents. The I-485 processing time could take several months.
How Much Do the Fees Cost?
Here is a quick breakdown of the fees and costs involved with obtaining an investment-based green card:
- I-526 fee of $3,675
- Immigrant visa fee of $345 for employment and investment-based visas
- Attorney fees if you decide to retain an immigration lawyer
- Travel costs if you are outside the U.S.
The chart for the I-485 varies depending on your age. The USCIS provides a chart that details the costs for each age group.
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the EB-5 investment-based green card:
Do you need a degree for an investment-based green card?
There are no requirements stating that you must have an educational background in order to apply. You also do not necessarily need to prove that you have previous experience in the business industry.
Can citizens of any country apply?
Citizens of any country with which the United States maintains diplomatic relations may apply. Citizens of countries such as North Korea, Iran, and Bhutan may find it more difficult to apply. For the most part, however, an immigration attorney can help people from almost any country apply for an EB-5.
What is “conditional” permanent residence?
The only difference between a conditional and unconditional EB-5 is that a conditional green card is issued with a validity period of two years. Once that period is up, you will be able to file a request to remove the conditions on your green card provided that your money has been invested and that your investment has created the required jobs.
Do I need a PERM in order to apply?
Because the EB-5 allows beneficiaries to self-petition, you do not need a job offer and therefore do not need a PERM Labor Certification. This is one reason why investment-based green cards are very advantageous over other green card options.
Is there a limit to how many investment-based visas are issued?
Yes. Each year, the USCIS allows for 10,000 EB-5 investment-based green cards to be issued to eligible applicants. Fortunately, this cap is rarely reached, so availability should not be a problem.
Does the investment need to be my own money?
Not necessarily. You must be able to prove that you have acquired the money through legal means and that you have complete control over the funds, but it does not need to be money that you have earned. For example, the funds could be a gift from a parent or business used to help you obtain an EB-5.
What if I have been rejected for another visa in the past?
Fortunately, the USCIS generally does not hold past rejections against you. However, this depends on the reason for rejection. If you were rejected based on a past criminal offense or a violation of your status in the U.S., it may influence the decision.
Have an experienced immigration lawyer review your case and past rejections to determine how they will affect your investment-based green card application.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Immigration law can be complex and it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you both time and money. Retaining a qualified EB-5 lawyer can help you make sure that you make all the right steps throughout the process.
Our immigration attorneys are experts in employment and investment-based green cards. They use their extensive experience to assess each case individually and help our clients through the investment-based green card process.
To contact one of our lawyers, simply fill out this form and schedule your consultation today.