EB-5 GREEN CARD PROGRAM
The EB-5 Green Card Program, created by the United States Congress, has two primary purposes: first, to create jobs to enhance the U.S. economy and, second, to allow qualified foreign investors to become lawful permanent U.S. residents. Under the EB-5 Green Card Program, the foreign investor as well as his/her family will be allowed to work in the United States. The program is open to all individuals from varied backgrounds who are seeking to improve their quality of life, to retire in the United States or to have their children attend U.S. colleges or universities. Three thousand green cards are reserved, annually, for those willing to invest either $500,000 (or $1 million if outside a Targeted Employment Area) resulting in creation of the requisite permanent jobs.
The applicant must be an accredited investor with the requisite net worth and capital in accordance with USCIS regulations. An accredited investor has a net worth or joint net worth, together with his/her spouse, in excess of $1,000,000, excluding assets such as homes, furnishings, and automobiles. Alternatively, an accredited investor has an annual adjusted gross income in excess of $200,000 during the last two full calendar years (or joint income together with his/her spouse in excess of $300,000) and reasonably expects to have annual income in excess of $200,000 (or joint income together with his/her spouse in excess of $300,000) during the current calendar year. Additionally, the investor must demonstrate that his/her assets were lawfully acquired through a legitimate business, salary/compensation, documented investment, property sale, gift, inheritance, loan or other legal means.
The applicant must also have the proper vaccinations and no identified communicable diseases. Furthermore, the applicant can apply for an EB-5 Visa if they have been previously rejected or terminated by USCIS for other visas unless the rejection was predicated on immigration fraud or other legal problems. The applicant is neither required to speak English nor to have a sponsor.
I-526 PETITION - THE 1st STEP IN LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENCE
After submission of the I-526 Petition, the approximate time for a foreign investor to pass the U.S. Consular interview and to receive his/her Conditional Green Card is approximately three to six months.
The applicant must submit passports, employment and business documents, family and police certificates, court/prison records (if any), military records, photographs, financial statements, and all requisite documents proving that the funds came from a legitimate source such as bank statements, stock certificates, loan or mortgage recordings.
CONDITIONAL GREEN CARDS
A Conditional Green Card is a temporary Green Card that remains in effect for two years. Once the USCIS approves the foreign investor's I-526 Petition, the investor, his/her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 can also receive conditional Green Cards. After one year and 9 months later, the investor has a three month window to file the I-829 application. This application verifies that all requisite funds have been invested and the required 10 jobs have been created either directly or indirectly.
After five years from receiving a temporary Green Card, the successful applicant is eligible for U.S. Citizenship. With an approved Green Card, the applicant may live, work or retire in the United States. He or she may also work in or visit other countries just as long as a U.S. residence is maintained. Green cards can be sponsored for relatives, and no work permit is necessary for employment in this country. Travel to and from other countries can be done without a visa. Children of approved applicants can continue to study in the U.S. with school costs similar to those of U.S. residents.
There are two conditions which must be met to maintain the Green Card. The first is that the applicant not become removable or inadmissible; for example, being convicted of a serious crime. The second condition is that the applicant not abandon the United States as his/her permanent residence. Generally, the USCIS considers an absence of longer than one year possible abandonment of a U.S. residency.
PERMANENT GREEN CARDS & U.S. CITIZENSHIP
The Conditional Green Card expires two years from the date of issue. The foreign investor will have to submit their I-829 Petition within three months before the Conditional Green Card expires. After USCIS approves the I-829 Petition, the foreign investor, spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 will receive their Permanent Green Cards. The investor and his family can get Permanent Green Cards in approximately two years.
The successful applicant and his/her family will be eligible for U.S. Citizenship after five years of receiving the Conditional Green Card.
What is the history of the EB-5 visa category?
The Investor Visa Program began in 1990 as part of the Immigration Act, permitting foreign investors to obtain permanent residency in the United States. In an effort to increase foreign capital and job creation for US workers, a new investor immigrant visa category, as specified in Section 121(b)5. In 1993, Congress developed and enacted the EB-5 Pilot Program as part of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, State, Judiciary and Related Appropriations Act of 1993. Finally in 2002, in passing the 21s Century Department of Justice Appropriations and Authorization Act, Congress removed several legal and administrative obstacles, ultimately simplifying the EB-5 Visa Category. The Regional Center Pilot Program was authorized by Congress in 2003, and in turn, eligible investments may create indirect jobs by taking part in various government approved projects throughout the United States.
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program requires an investment of $1 Million; however, if the capital is invested in a rural area or an area of high unemployment, the capital requirements is lowered to $500,000. (Target Employment Areas (TEA) have unemployment levels 150% higher than the national average) In order for an investment to qualify for the EB-5 Program, 10 full-time jobs for US citizens or legal residents must be created by the investment. The employees may not include investor’s family and the employment must last for a period of two years.
Once the investment is made, the investor can expect a two year provisional visa, and after all requirements are met and approved by USCIS, permanent residency is granted.
What are the benefits of the EB-5 visa?
Among many benefits of the EB-5 Investor Immigrant Visa Category, many of our clients choose this visa because with this visa, our clients can travel freely to their home country and throughout the world far more easily than with other immigrant visas.
EB-5 visa holders may also live anywhere in the United States and are not limited by the location of the participating Regional Center or investment.
Interestingly, an EB-5 investor has access to education at resident prices and higher education at the same prices that US Citizens pay. The investor’s children under the age of 21 are also beneficiaries of the visa, and the family is completely eligible to be educated in the US paying the same rates as other residents of the area.
Today an EB-5 Investment is flexible by nature. The entrepreneur can use the investment, not only to obtain legal residency, but to establish a new business. The investor can choose to manage and operate this new business, taking responsibility for creating 10 direct jobs and ensuring that the investment remains profitable. The other option, that many of our clients that hope to retire in the US seem to enjoy, is to invest in one of many Regional Centers, creating 10 indirect jobs, and partaking in a larger investment program manages and operated by a government approved entity.