What is an EB-5 visa?

An EB-5 visa is an “employment-based” immigrant visa. Unlike certain other employment-based visa categories, the EB-5 category does not require an employer sponsor. The visa is granted in two stages: (1) two-year conditional permanent residency, and (2) permanent residency without conditions. After a foreign national completes all of the requirements of the EB-5 investor program, the investor and their qualifying family members receive legal permanent residency status in the United States. This means that they can live, work, and study anywhere in the U.S., and can change jobs, receive social welfare benefits, and travel internationally. During the first stage – i.e., two-year conditional permanent residency – the investor's capital invested in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) must remain “at-risk,” and the jobs created pursuant to the minimum job creation requirement must be sustained.

What are the types of EB-5 investment?

There are two types of EB-5 investment: (1) direct investments, and (2) Regional Center investments. Direct investments are where a foreign national invests in a new commercial enterprise (NCE) directly by themselves. Regional Center investments are where a foreign national indirectly invests in an NCE through a “Regional Center,” which is a USCIS-approved entity that pools investments.

Differences between the two types of EB-5 investment include the crucially important distinction between the kinds of jobs that count towards the job creation requirement of the visa. Additionally, direct investment projects are often smaller and riskier than Regional Center projects, and they require investors to take on a more active role in the management of the business. In the case of Regional Center projects, simply serving on the NCE's Board of Directors may suffice for the active management requirement.

Depending on the type of investment, the alternative required forms are:

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by a Standalone Investor, or

Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by a Regional Center Investor.

These Petitions and supporting evidence must document and prove to the USCIS that the investor has made a qualifying EB-5 investment, and must demonstrate exactly how the NCE plans to satisfy the EB-5 program requirement of creating 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers lasting a minimum of two years.

The cost of each Petition is $3,675. In the case of Regional Center investors, an additional $1,000 must be paid pursuant to the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022.

What is the EB-5 minimum investment amount for 2023?

A significant capital investment is required to qualify for the EB-5 program. In 2023, the minimum investment is $800,000 in the case of NCEs located in a targeted employment area, or TEA. A TEA is a rural area or an area of high unemployment (at least 150% above the national average). For non-TEA locations, the minimum investment is $1,050,000.

What are the EB-5 program requirements in addition to the minimum investment?

First of all, the capital used for the EB-5 investment must be lawfully sourced. The investment must create a new U.S. business, i.e., a new commercial enterprise. An investor's new commercial enterprise (NCE) or job-creating entity (JCE) is often referred to as the “EB-5 project.” An investor must have an active role in the management of the project, and the capital must remain “at-risk” for at least two years – i.e., without a guaranteed return. The investment must create 10 full-time (at least 35 hour per week) jobs for U.S. workers, and these jobs must last a minimum of two years. In cases of direct investment, only the employees who work for the NCE on a W-2 tax form count towards the requirement. In cases of Regional Center projects, the required minimum of 10 full-time jobs can include direct jobs, indirect jobs, and induced jobs. Indirect and induced jobs are those created or preserved in the community beyond the employees who work for the NCE.

How easy is it to obtain an EB-5 visa?

The EB-5 program is one of the fastest and most reliable pathways for foreign nationals and their eligible family members to become legal permanent residents in the United States. However, the program and the process are extremely complex. While EB-5 attorney fees may seem very high (immigration attorneys may charge $15,000 or more in EB-5 legal fees), an attorney experienced in the EB-5 program can speed up the process, save the investor time and money, and advise on and help assemble the extensive supporting documentation that is required at each step of the process. 

What are the costs of an EB-5 visa in addition to the minimum capital investment?

While the largest cost of an EB-5 visa is the capital investment itself, there are numerous costs involved in the EB-5 program in addition to the investment. Investors must pay USCIS petition filing fees, administrative and service fees, any EB-5 immigration attorney fees, and expenses such as the costs to transfer money between countries, report writing fees, and mailing costs, as well as Regional Center administrative fees in cases of Regional Center Investment. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 increased USCIA fees to support efficiency and compliance. Attorney fees and administrative costs vary widely, in part depending on the Regional Center and on the project. The various USCIS petitions and processing fees add about $10,000 per family member to the cost of the EB-5 capital investment itself. Regional Center administration fees can often add between $30,000 and $90,000, depending on the project.

Visit our comprehensive EB-5 Investor Green Card page here.

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