Limited time offer! Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis at a 25% discount
Since 2012

US EB-5 Visa: Program requirements, stages and origin

Kristina Kurkuliak
19 November 2018

This visa program was launched almost 30 years ago. Throughout the whole period of its existence, it has attracted billions of investments into the economy of the USA. The EB-5 visa holder can apply for a green card and US citizenship in the future.
How can one receive US EB-5 visa? How different is it from E-2 and L-1 visas. What is the cost of the new status? Find the details in the article below.

EB-5 investor visa is a reliable way of immigration to the USA

The EB-5 visa is an official document issued to foreign investors who contributed into business development in the US territory.
The EB-5 program was launched in 1990 by the US Congress in order to stimulate economic activity in the country. It was decided to allow foreign investors and their families to ‘buy’ the right to live in the United States by making a substantial contribution into the national economy. To increase the program popularity, in 1993 the officials launched the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program which resulted in the creation of US EB-5 Regional Centers.

Regional Centers (RC) are private organizations authorized to receive investors’ money and manage it. As of today, there are about 300 RC in the USA, with this figure gradually growing.

In 1998, the EB-5 program conditions were tightened, since some candidates had been involved in scamming investment schemes. Now applicants have to prove the legality of the investment capital origin, so as the fact they are involved in the EB-5 project. After the introduction of these changes, the number of applicants noticeably decreased.
The 2003 investigation showed that a very small percentage of visas was being issued to candidates on a yearly basis, given that the number of visas allocated for the program corresponded to 10,000. Therefore, the authorities created a special division for program monitoring. It became better coordinated and more reliable.
From 2009 to 2015, the EB-5 program was extended several times.

The EB-5 program advantages

The EB-5 program has the reputation of being one of the most credible in the world. What benefits does the EB-5 investor visa provide?

According to Amlaw Group experts, L-1 has historically been the most popular investment visa among Russians and residents of CIS countries. Although the cost of participation in this program is much lower (starting from $150,000) than that one of EB-5 (starting from $500,000), it requires a candidate to have at least a 1-year work experience as a top manager of a foreign company and does not imply the opportunity to receive a green card in the future. The investor can get permanent resident status only if he/she gets the visa re-issued.
The E-2 visa is issued under the condition of capital investment and business development and management in the territory of the United States. It is also not an immigration visa, just like L-1. This is why investors who want to settle in America need to opt for another type of visa. The most reliable variant for immigration is the EB-5 investor visa. But everything surely depends on the ‘right’ choice of the project for investment.
Every year US Citizenship and Immigration Services set the limit of 10,000 visas for EB-5 investors. However, this quota has never been exhausted yet. In 2005, 332 applications were submitted under the program, 486 in 2006 and 776 the next year. The number of participants skyrocketed in 2011, the immigration services issued about 3,500 visas that year, which figure exceeded the one recorded in 2010 by 80%. Experts explain rapid increase in demand with the introduced changes to the program: the process became more transparent and effective, there appeared more RCs across the country.

The annual percentage of approved applications corresponds about 85-90% of the total amount.

All indications are that interest of foreign investors to the jurisdiction is increasing annually. In the past 5 years, the number of immigration visas issued to Russian investors has grown almost by 100%. W1 Evans experts note that in the first quarter of 2016 the number of Russia’s citizens willing to receive EB-5 visas has noticeably increased. By the end of the year, the amount of submitted applications grew by more than 60%. The spike of activity is believed to be connected with the unstable political and economic situation worldwide, with the EB-5 visa providing a real safe haven in case of force-majeure circumstances in one’s homeland.
The national composition of EB-5 investors in the USA is represented mostly by the citizens of China. Investments also come from the former Soviet countries, Vietnam, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico,

EB-5 Regional Centers

A foreigner interested in participating in the visa program must choose between creating own business and investing into one of the Regional Centers projects. In order to make the ‘right’ choice, one should understand the benefits of both options.

Practice shows that the majority of candidates for the EB-5 visa (90%) prefer investing through Regional Centers.

In this case, the investor does not have to follow the dynamics of the program requirements fulfillment regarding the investment capital amount and the creation of the required number of job positions. The key advantage of the RC is that not only directly created, but also indirectly created job positions are taken into consideration after investment. Indirectly created positions can appear, for example, as a result of the development of the region where the RC is located. Therefore, it becomes easier to comply with the requirements. RCs save investors a lot of headache related to the monitoring of business that receives investment in order to check if it complies with the program requirements.
The level of project management is set by the investor.  The EB-5 visa can be issued without direct involvement of the candidate in the project development. The RC takes the responsibility for fulfilling the program conditions.
Another advantage is that the investor can live in any area, regardless of where his/her capital is active. For example, one can invest in a project in California and live in Florida. Moreover, one can be employed with any other company in whatever region, without losing one’s right to reside in the USA for oneself and the family.
Candidates interested in getting the maximum profit from their investments can choose a project to contribute in. Only those investors who meet certain requirements can get the EB-5 visa. First of all, the candidate must be ready to invest in business, create a particular number of new job positions, carefully study the organization and make sure it is a suitable one. After all the formalities have been observed and the applications approved, the investor and his/her family receive temporary resident cards.

Program participation cost

The minimum ‘entry fee’ under the EB-5 program isð $1,000,000. Money can be invested by various means: from cash to purchase of equipment and tools. Another option is to contribute at least $500,000 into the commercial organization located in the target area. It is about the enterprises situated in the areas with a relatively limited level of economic development, mostly rural regions with the unemployment rate 1.5% higher than the national average.

Creating job positions

The key requirement of the EB-5 program is that the investors’ financing should result in the creation of job positions in the country:

Commercial organizations

A commercial organization is any activity aimed at receiving legal income. There several types of organizations available for candidates. These are sole proprietorships, corporations, limited and unlimited liability companies, so as other private and open organizations. All commercial enterprises must be established after November 29, 1990. Organizations founded before this date are also allowed to participate in the program if the investments are directed at increasing the number of employees by 40%.
Investors undergo a thorough selection process. Immigration services check the conviction record, tax declaration, ways of receiving income. It is important to prove the legality of income source.

Stages of getting EB-5 visa

Applicants who want to obtain the EB-5 visa must go through the many-staged procedure. Those investors and their relatives in direct descent who will duly follow this procedure will eventually become green card holders.
How can one receive the EB-5 visa?

  1. Choosing a suitable business project. It can be either individual projects or Regional Centers projects. Investors living outside the US territory can seek help of accredited agents who carry out the search of suitable projects for them.
  2. Making a contribution and filing a I-526 petition. Money transfer is carried out by immigration lawyers on behalf of the EB-5 visa program participant. The petition is filed to the immigration services that issue a decision within a six-month period.
  3. Receiving conditional permanent resident status. After the application approval, the investor receives a document allowing him/her to work on the own project in the United States. The document is valid for 2 years. The investor can immediately get permanent residence after the immigration services approve his/her l-526 petition. There are two ways of receiving permanent residence. If the candidate has a legal status in the USA, the candidate has to fill in the I-485 form to change for the conditional permanent resident status. If the candidate does not have a legal status in the USA, the candidate has to file the DS-230 application for immigrant visa in the National Visa Center. In both cases, one will need professional help of immigration lawyers. Immigration visa document processing usually takes from 6 to 12 months.
  4. Changing a conditional green card for a permanent one. Three months before the anniversary of receiving the conditional status, the investor must file the I-829 form to the immigration services. This petition is the final stage of the process of getting US permanent resident status. As a rule, a green card is issued 6-8 months after the case submission.

US residence through the EB-5 visa is a promising opportunity for high-income investors

Foreigners who become legal permanent residents in the USA receive a green card. This document allows them to move to the USA for permanent residence. Five years after receiving permanent resident card, foreigners can apply for the US citizenship.
What motivates wealthy people to immigrate to the USA? Let us name the major advantages offered to green card holders right now:

Getting a US passport is a logical ending to the whole process of immigration to the USA. It provides for the rights not available to non-citizens. American passport holders have the right to vote in elections and stand in elections for the majority of positions.
In general, US permanent resident status is enough to ensure a good life for the family, successfully move ahead with business ideas and integrate into the American society.

Interested in more detailed information about official and completely legal ways to obtain EB-5 Investor Visa? Contact us!

TOP articles

Read by topic

Get a free consultation
3 best options for you from 20+ programs
Get a free consultation