These days, obtaining a US student visa is more difficult than ever, creating an opportunity for international students to participate in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program. An EB-5 visa is one that gives immigrant investors and their immediate family (children up to the age of 21) the opportunity to obtain a US green card and permanent residency through a one-time business investment. The US allows for 10,000 EB-5 visas to be granted per year and no single country can claim more than 7 percent of the available visas. Read further to get informed on the EB-5 visa and what the process involves.
What is an EB-5 Visa?
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program was created by the US government in 1990 to give immigrant businesspeople the opportunity to invest in US businesses and simultaneously obtain lawful permanent US residence for themselves and their immediate family. Since the program began, the US economy has been stimulated through foreign investment, creating several American jobs.
1. Find an EB-5 Project to Invest in
The first step in the EB-5 visa process is finding an EB-5 project to invest in. EB-5 projects are sponsored by EB-5 Regional Centers and are generally involved with real estate. It’s very important to do thorough research on EB-5 projects as investments are a risk that don’t always pay off. If the project is unsuccessful the investor could end up losing money.
2. Invest in an EB-5 Project
Once an EB-5 project is chosen, the investor will need to make a one-time minimum investment of $900,000 USD into the project. This investment must be “at-risk” for 5 years, but is set up to be paid back on receiving the Green card. The investment must create 10 or more American jobs in a Targeted Employment Area.
3. I-526 Petition
This form is typically prepared on the investor's behalf by the immigration attorney, and filed by the investor. This document demonstrates the investor is in the process or investing or have already invested the amount required in a suitable EB-5 project.
4. Conditional Permanent Residency
If the investor’s I-526 petition is approved, they will be granted 2-year conditional permanent residency in the US. During this time period, the investor cannot leave the US for more than one year.
5. I-485 Adjustment of Status
If the investor is a resident in the US they must file an I-485 Adjustment of Status to move from the current visa to the conditional green card. If the investor is living internationally, they must complete a Form DS-230 and complete an interview with the consulate or embassy in their home country.
6. Unconditional Permanent Residency
Finally, the investor must file Form I-829 in order to become an unconditional lawful permanent resident of the US after the 2-year conditional permanent residency period.
7. Form I-829
The investor must file this form at least 90 days before the anniversary of the day when conditional permanent residency was granted.
How Long Does the EB-5 Process Take?
The timeline varies and depends on the country where you were born. For many countries, the conditional green card with full working and travel rights is received in 18-24 months. For countries with high demand (China and Vietnam) the wait can be over 10 years.
EB-5 Visas for International Students
The first step in the EB-5 visa process is finding an EB-5 project to invest in. EB-5 projects are identified by EB-5 Regional Centers and the investments are designed to reduce the risk so it can be paid back after five years. It’s very important to do thorough research on EB-5 projects as the investments are “at risk” and if the project is unsuccessful the investor could end up losing money.