What is the EB-5 Investor Program?

The EB-5 Visa Program allows foreign investors to become lawful U.S. permanent residents. This visa is also known as the Employment-based Fifth Preference Green Card Category.

To be eligible, applicants need to invest at least $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise.

The U.S. Investor Visa Program is intended to promote economic growth and encourage foreign investments. It was created in 1990 and renewed in 2019 under the Trump Administration. The EB5 investment Visa is currently subjected to a 10,000-yearly cap.

What is an EB-5 Visa?

The EB5 Visa is open to foreign investors who can devote a bona fide capital between $500,00 and $1 million to U.S. businesses. If you wish to invest a smaller amount of funds, you can still check your E2 Visa eligibility. Similarly, the U.S. immigration law welcomes foreign traders under the Treaty Visa tier.

Applicants can work individually or be part of a larger pool of investors who are approved as a third-party intermediary. The EB5 program is targeted to help the development of rural areas in the U.S. who have a high unemployment rate.

Based on the investment activity, there are different tiers of EB-5 Visas:

  • C-5 Visa, for investments outside the target areas
  • T-5 Visa, for investors interested in areas with a high unemployment rate
  • R-5 Visa, for participants of an Investor Pilot Program but not engaged in target areas
  • I-5 Visa, for business investors who work in specific regions under an Investor Pilot Program

What are the EB-5 Visa requirements?

EB-5 applicants must meet the following investment requirements:

  • invest in a new commercial enterprise, established after November 29, 1990
  • you can still invest in older commercial enterprises if your contribution leads to a significant increase in the net worth
  • you need to make an “at risk” capital investment of $1 million

The minimum amount of the capital required for the EB investor program can be decreased to $500,000 if you invest in a targeted employment area (TEA). These are areas where the unemployment rate is at least 150 percent of the national standard.

Moreover, to be eligible for the Investor Visa you must meet further job creation requirements:

  • your investment must result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers
  • this result must be obtained within two years after your visa approval

What is the required minimum investment?

Successful applicants must invest at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise, which is established after 29th November 1990.

Businesses existing before this date can be considered if they are restructured to generate at least a forty percent increase in the net worth or number of employees incurred.

New enterprises must create at least ten full-time jobs for qualifying workers.

For applicants interested in investing in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA), the investment is limited to $500,000. However, the area must have an unemployment rate of 150 percent of the national average.

All the investment (including inventory and equipment) must be acquired by lawful means.

How long is the EB-5 Visa processing time?

Based on your country of origin, your petition process may vary. As a consequence, your EB-5 processing time may take as little as a few months to several years. You can periodically check on the EB5 Visa bulletin the state of your petition and the number of available permits for your nationals.

The first step of your EB-5 program application is to file the Form I-156 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur).

Since you are investing your own capital, you can self-petition for yourself without the need of a U.S.-based sponsor.

If your petition is approved, you must wait until your priority date is current before proceeding with your application. Upon submission of your Form DS-260, the USCIS may ask you to provide full medical documentation.

At the time of your interview, you must also present your supporting documents. You need to prove that your investment is relevant and that your project meets the EB5 program requirements.