About the EB-5 Investment Visa
What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa?
Created in 1990 by the Immigration Act of 1990, the EB-5 Investment Visa provides a method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents — informally known as "green card" holders — by making an investment to finance a business in the United States that will employ at least 10 American workers.
There are two kinds of EB-5 Visas. Columbia International Finance specializes in the TEA-based path. TEA stands for “targeted employment area,” a rural or high unemployment area. This visa requires the investment of $500,000 ($900,000 after Nov. 21) in an approved Regional Center.
What are the steps of the EB-5 Investment Visa application process?
1. INVESTOR completes pre-screening questionnaire for review by CIF
1b. INVESTOR signs subscription agreement
1a. Columbia International Finance gives INVESTOR Private Placement Memorandum outlining EB-5 investment project
1c. INVESTOR deposits investment into bank escrow account and pays CIF fee
1d. INVESTOR'S attorney submits I-526 application to USCIS
1e. Escrow account releases majority of investment funds to Job Creating Enterprise
If investor receives I-526 approval
2. Escrow account releases remainder of investment funds to Job Creating Enterprise
If investor's I-526 application is denied
Escrow account returns investment funds back to INVESTOR
3. INVESTOR files application for immigrant visa or adjustment of status
4. INVESTOR interviews with U.S. Consulate and is issued a conditional Green Card
5. INVESTOR'S attorney submits I-829 application to USCIS for unconditional (permanent) Green Card
If Green Card is approved
Conditional status of Green Card is removed and becomes permanent
If Green Card is denied
INVESTOR files appeal. If appeal is denied, escrow returns investment funds to INVESTOR
How does the EB-5 Immigrant Investment Visa compare to the H-1B Visa?
The H-1B Visa is based on employment and is viable only so long as that employment position is retained. The EB-5 Visa is an investment visa that provides a pathway to permanent residency. Here are some other major differences between the two visas:
Requires a bachelor’s or higher degree
Must work in a specialty field
Completely dependent on employment
Spousal employment status now in jeopardy
Must live and work in specific place
No degree required
Work in any field of employment –or not at all
Spouse and unmarried children under 21 qualify for conditional green cards and are allowed to work.
Live anywhere in the U.S.
What are the EB-5 visa costs?
The EB-5 program currently requires a $500,000 "at-risk" investment in a qualified U.S. construction project through an approved Regional Center. You will also pay fees to your immigration lawyer and the regional center.
Is the investment amount expected to change?
Changes to the EB-5 Investment Visa Program were published on July 24, 2019. The big change is that the investment amount will increase from $500,000 to $900,000, effective November 21, 2019. Applications filed on or before November 20, 2019 will be evaluated under the current rules.
What are the EB-5 wait times to permanent residency?
Wait times depend on the number of applicants from each country. For most countries, those not in retrogression, the process takes about 30 days for acceptance by the government; then generally 12-24 months for issuance of the conditional green card. It takes another two years for the removal of restrictions and issuance of permanent residency.
Why is it different for the countries in "retrogression"?
The EB-5 program is allotted a maximum of 10,000 visas per year, with 700 visas available for any single country. However, if a country does not use all of its allocated visa numbers, other country applicants may use them. Until recently, the applications from around the world did not exceed 10,000, and some countries claimed as many as 85% of the unused visas from other countries. Visa retrogression occurs when there are more applicants from a particular country in a fiscal year than there are visas allocated to that country by Congress through the USCIS. Now that the 10,000-visa cap has been reached, visa applications from any country that exceeds 700 filed in a given year are moved to the next year’s allocations. As it has so many applicants, China has been most affected. Vietnam and India are now at their annual limit as well and will likely start moving into future years in 2019.
Do I need an immigration attorney? What role does the attorney play?
An immigration attorney is an important part of the process to make sure your interests are protected and your application meets all the legal requirements. To avoid conflict of interests, the attorney should have absolutely no financial ties to the Regional Center. We can refer you to immigration attorneys with whom we have worked in the past and who are familiar with EB-5 projects.
What is a Regional Center?
An EB-5 Regional Center is an organization designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that sponsors capital investment projects for investment by EB-5 investors. The Regional Center manages the investors’ funds directly, professionally, and independently. Regional Centers ensure that the required number of jobs for each investor has been met and oversee the developer’s construction team to guarantee on-budget/on-time performance.
When will I see a return on my investment?
Funds are kept “at risk” by program rules until the projected job creation has been documented, and until the investor has received their removal of conditional residency restrictions.
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