The EB-5 visa was established in 1990 to encourage investment and job creation in the United States. While the program got off to a slow start during its first two decades of existence, demand for U.S. green cards through the program skyrocketed in 2014. In that year and for the first time ever, the cap on visa through the program was reached. Roughly 85 percent of the requests for visas came from wealthy Chinese investors. In 2014, Chinese investors accounted for 90 percent of the EB-5 visas issued. In 2015, the program hit its cap in April – again due to strong demand from wealthy Chinese investors. However, in light of the current high levels of demand, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the program was not widely used for much of its early history. Thus, there is still confusion over the EB-5 process and what an intending immigrant-investor should expect from each stage of the process. Furthermore, because securing an EB-5 visa is a process and demand is high, there is likely to be at least several years from the start of the process to the program’s completion.
Perform Due Diligence to Protect Your Investment
Before taking any substantive action or making any investment of any type, an intending EB-5 investor should always engage in meticulous and thorough due diligence. This is chiefly because any investment made into an qualifying EB-5 project must be placed “at risk.” Investments where the funds are not placed in some level of jeopardy are not qualifying investments under the program. Per USCIS guidance, “at risk” means that there can be an increase in the investment or there can be a decrease in this investment. While the returns on EB-5 investments are typically modest, there always remains the risk that the commercial venture will fail and the intending immigrant-investor will lose both the invested funds and this opportunity at a pathway to citizenship.
File I-526 & Other Required Documents With USCIS
Foreign nationals seeking to enter the EB-5 program must, upon selecting a viable EB-5 investment, file a Form I-526 petition with USCIS. I-526 – Petition by Alien Entrepreneur – must set forth evidence showing that the immigrant investor has plans to satisfy the requirements of the EB-5 visa. Evidence must be presented regarding:
- The investment is made into a new commercial enterprise
- The investment is sufficient
- There is a viable plan to manage the commercial enterprise –
- Job creation requirements will be fulfilled
If the I-526 is approved, the individual must then file either I-485 to adjust status while within the United States. If the individual has not already come to the U.S. and requires consular processing, DS-230 or DS-260 should be filed to obtain their temporary, conditional green card.
Manage the Business & Prepare Filings to Remove the Conditions Placed on your Green Card
Following making the above filings, the immigrant investor enters into what is known as the “sustainment period.” During the sustainment period, the individual must ensure that the plan set forth in the I-526 plan is carried out faithfully and that the investment has remained in place. At least 90 days prior to the two-year anniversary of your initial filing to enter into the program, you must show that you have satisfied all program conditions. By doing so, the conditions placed on the temporary green card will be removed and you will have a permanent U.S. green card. This is accomplished by filing Form I-829 along with supporting materials. Upon successful approval of an I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, the individual will be able to live and work in the United States permanently. If he or she had qualifying family members receive a derivative green card through the investment, they too will be permitted to live and work in the United States permanently.
Rely on our EB-5 Experience in Miami and Orlando, Florida
If you are considering embarking on the path to a U.S. permanent green card, the experienced immigration and Miami investor visa lawyers of Colombo & Hurd can help. They can provide trusted guidance during every step of the EB-5 process. To schedule a onfidential consultation at either our Miami or Orlando offices, call 800-659-7142 or contact us online today.