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EB-5 Visa

There are four general steps that investors must complete to become U.S. permanent residents through the EB-5 visa program. Once these steps have been completed, EB-5 investors, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 become U.S. permanent residents. They will also have the option to apply for U.S. citizens after five years obtaining their permanent residency.

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Step 1 Locating an EB-5 Project

The EB-5 applicant must first find a suitable business project to invest in. EB-5 business projects generally take the form of either new commercial enterprises or regional center projects. GIS will help EB-5 investors locate the project that best suits their needs. Applicants must also ensure that they meet accredited investor income requirements in order to move forward with the EB-5 process.

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Step 2 Capital Investment and I-526 Petition

After choosing a project to invest in, the applicant(s) must make the required capital investment amount in the project that they have chosen. The investment must be US$ 1.8 million, or US$ 900,000 if the project is situated in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). These investments are often made into an escrow account. Then, an immigration attorney provides proof of this investment by filing an I-526 petition (US$ 3,675 fee) with USCIS. USCIS typically informs applicants whether or not their I-526 petition has been accepted after 24 to 26 months. Most regional centers will refund your investment if your I-526 is denied.

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Step 3 Two Year Conditional Permanent Residency

The third step of the EB-5 application process is for the applicant to become a two year conditional resident of the United States so they can implement the project funded by their EB-5 investment. EB-5 investors are eligible to become U.S. residents once their I-526 petition has been approved by USCIS. Residency can be attained in one of two ways:

  1. If the EB-5 investor already has lawful status in the United States, then they must file form I-485 to adjust their status to conditional permanent resident; or
  2. If the investor does not already have lawful status in the United States, then they must file for an immigrant visa by submitting form DS-260 to the National Visa Center and they must process through the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.

Both of these steps typically require the help of an immigration attorney and the immigrant visa is issued in about six to twelve months. During the two year conditional residency period, the investor is required to fulfill physical presence requirements, and cannot remain outside of the United States for more than one year without obtaining a re-entry permit.

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Step 4 Unconditional Permanent Residency and the I-829 Petition

The final step in the EB-5 visa process is for applicants to become unconditional permanent residents by removing their two year conditional status. The I-829 petition is submitted to USCIS 90 days prior to the second anniversary of the date that the applicant first received their conditional residency. This application proves that the investor has met all requirements of the EB-5 visa program. USCIS most often issues a permanent green card 22 to 45 months after the I-829 has been submitted. The investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can then permanently live and work in the United States and have the option to apply to become U.S. citizens.

E-2 Visa

There are two ways to go about the E-2 visa process:

  1. Get an E-2 visa at a US Consulate outside the United States (Consular Processing); or
  2. Change status to E-2 visa status while lawfully present in the United States (Change of Status).

 

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OPTION 1: GETTING AN E-2 VISA BY CONSULAR PROCESSING

Consular processing is the process of actually getting an E2 visa affixed to your passport. Typically you will elect to get an E2 visa if you are outside of the US when applying for the E2 visa or if you plan to travel in and out of the US once you receive your E2 visa.

If you choose to get an E2 visa, your immigration lawyer will prepare the documents proving that you meet the E2 visa requirements.

Your immigration lawyer will also prepare a Form DS-160 as well as a DS-156 E supplement. Your immigration lawyer will also prepare separate Form DS-160s for your dependents.

Keep in mind, many US consulates have their own requirements for how they would like your E2 packet organized and submitted. Your immigration lawyer should follow the exact instructions of the US consulate when your E2 package will be submitted.

Once your attorney submits the E2 petition, the US Consulate will take about 2-3 months to review your petition.

Once reviewed, the consulate will set up an interview with you. At the interview, you may be asked questions about the E-2 investment, the source of your investment funds, and other similar questions regarding the information contained in your E-2 visa package.

Following the interview, it will take the consulate up to about 1 week to place the visa in your passport.

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OPTION 2: CHANGE OF STATUS TO E-2 VISA

If you are already present in the United States in a lawful non-immigrant status, you may choose to change your status to E-2 status. A change of status is basically changing from one non-immigrant status to a different non-immigrant status. The entire change of status process is done while you are in the US. You do not have to leave the US or attend an interview.

*Note: You cannot do a “change of status” if you are in the US on an ESTA.

Your immigration attorney will organize the documents that prove you meet the E-2 visa requirements. Your attorney will also complete the Form I-129 as well as the E Supplement on your behalf. Your attorney will also complete a Form I-539 for your dependents. To change your status, your lawyer will submit the completed E-2 petition to USCIS.

USCIS will take between 2 and 3 months to issue a response to your E-2 petition. For an extra fee, USCIS offers Premium Processing which reduces the processing time to 15 days.

Once approved, you are granted E-2 status. This means that you are granted the rights and privileges granted to E-2 visa holders except for the fact that you do not have an E-2 visa. If you leave the US, you will forfeit your E-2 status. There are limited exceptions to this.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

1. What is an EB- 5 Visa?

The United States EB-5 visa is an Immigrant Investor Visa Program. This is a popular method for eligible Immigrant Investors to become lawful permanent residents or to get the “green card” for the whole family. Thanks to EB-5 visa, husband/wife in law and all non-married children below 21 years old of the investors can get the “green card” and have a full right of a US permanent resident.

Before November 21, 2019, the minimum amount of investment was 500.000 US$, but now the investor has to invest at least 900.000 US$ to get an EB-5 visa. The duration for approval lasts for 24 months.

After that, all family members will enjoy a high standard of life including getting benefits from high-quality medical service, education, and other well-beings similar to a US citizen apart from election rights.The children can stay in school for free of tuition until age 18 and then can obtain higher education with a fee less than ⅓ compared to foreign students. After 5 years, the investors and his/her family can apply for US citizenship.

2. What is an E2 Visa?

Inspired in part by its capitalist system, a central purpose of the U.S.’ immigration system is to grant admission to foreign nationals who are anticipated to have a positive impact on the U.S. economy, society, and the job market. For foreign investors, this can mean very good news!

Specifically, for business people looking to invest in, direct, and develop a bona fide enterprise in the United States, the E-2 visa classification can very well open the doors.

3. What are I-526 requirements?

Many forms of evidence may be used to prove that all of I-526 petition requirements have been met by the applicant:

Requirement: an EB-5 eligible project has received/will receive the investment Evidence: articles of incorporation, merger or consolidation certificates, joint venture or limited partnership agreements, state business certificates

Requirement: the appropriate investment amount has been made in the project Evidence: bank statements, security agreements, promissory notes, loan or mortgage certificates, other evidence that sufficiently illustrates the investment amount

Requirement: the capital investment was obtained through lawful means (legal source of funds) Evidence: five years of tax returns, pay stubs of the funds coming from earnings from an employer, bank account statements, securities statements (if the funds came from trading/bonds/stocks)

Requirement: the investment will create 10 full-time U.S. jobs
Evidence: a business plan

Requirement: the investor will be involved with day-to-day management or will have a policy-making position within the EB-5 project

Evidence: corporate documents, statement and description of duties.

4. Who files the I-526?

I-526 petitions are usually completed by immigration attorneys. They are submitted to the USCIS California Service Center. The filing fee for the I-526 petition is $3,675. USCIS will occasionally request more evidence as needed. It currently takes the USCIS 24 to 26 months to adjudicate an I-526 application. EB-5 visa applicants can apply for U.S. residential status once the I-526 petition is complete. They do so by filing the form I-485 adjustment of status if they are already in the United States as a nonimmigrant, or by filing the DS-260 application if they are abroad.

5. What is the I-829 petition?

The I-829 petition is the final step of the EB-5 visa process for immigrant investors to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. The I-829 petition includes evidence that the immigrant investor successfully met all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements of the EB-5 program. Once the I-829 is approved, the investor’s conditional residency restriction is removed so that the investor, their spouse and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can live in the United States permanently.

The EB-5 investor can file the I-829 petition with USCIS starting 90 days before the end of the two year conditional permanent status period. The applicant’s conditional residency will be extended while the I-829 is processed. The I-829 application must be filed within 21 to 24 months of the investor’s two year conditional residency period, otherwise the ability to obtain a permanent residency card can be jeopardized.

6. What are I-829 requirements?

There are numerous pieces of evidence that EB-5 investors must supply within the I-829 petition to prove that they have fulfilled all EB-5 program requirements:

Requirement: conditional permanent resident card (green card)
Evidence: photocopy of permanent investor’s permanent resident card, photocopy of permanent resident cards of all EB-5 family members

Requirement: proof that a commercial enterprise was established
Evidence: federal tax returns

Requirement: proof that the capital investment was made
Evidence: audited financial statements, bank statements, other evidence to demonstrate that the new commercial evidence received the investor’s funds

Requirement: proof that the commercial enterprise was sustained throughout the two year conditional residency period
Evidence: invoices, receipts, bank statements, contracts, business licenses, federal tax returns, state tax returns, quarterly tax statements

Requirement: evidence that the required number of jobs were created by the project and that the business plan was followed
Evidence: payroll records, relevant tax documents

Requirement: biometrics services
Evidence: applicant must attend USCIS biometrics appointment where the applicant’s fingerprints, signature and photograph are taken

Requirement: legal documents must be provided if the applicant has a criminal history Evidence: law enforcement statements, arrest records, sentencing records, probation or parole records, other court records relating to the criminal history.

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