The EB5 Visa is the US’s version of a Golden Visa. It allows the holder to live, work, pursue education or retire in the US without having to find an employer.
As with other Golden Visa types, if you wish to get a US EB-5 visa, you must make a very substantial investment in the US. So, this visa is suitable for very wealthy internationals who have their eye on a Green Card or American citizenship.
EB-5 Visa in a nutshell:
- To receive this visa, you must invest at least $900,000 in a US enterprise and create at least 10 American jobs.
- If you are eligible for the EB-5 Visa, you receive a Green Card and you are allowed to live in the US.
- You can include your dependent family members in the application. This means your spouse and children also get Green Cards.
- The US only issues 10,000 EB-5 Investment Visas per year. This also includes the visas issued to family members.
To get assistance with the required paperwork and procedures of getting a Golden visa for the US, it is advisable to hire legal representatives that specialize in these matters.
EB-5 Visa Investment Options
There are two investment options which make you eligible for an EB-5 Visa:
- Investing at least $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). e. Investing in a rural area or an area which has a high rate of unemployment, in a government-approved program.
- Direct investment of at least $1.8 million outside a TEA. You can invest in another company/enterprise of your choice or create your own company in the US, but you must make sure it meets the USCIS requirements.
EB-5 Visa Investment in Regional Centers
The USCIS has several Regional Centers across the country, which aim to promote economic growth in certain areas in the US. You can find the list of Approved EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Centers here.
If you invest in a TEA, you must prove that your investment has created at least ten jobs, either directly or indirectly. Indirect jobs are those that have come as a result of the investment in the commercial enterprise, but the people hired work for other companies. These can be jobs in the supply chain of the commercial enterprise.
The vast majority of EB-5 applications are made through Regional Centers, as most applicants are more concerned about the immigration aspect of their investments rather than capital return.
EB-5 Visa Direct Investment
A direct EB-5 Investment means you create your own company in the US or you purchase an existing company. Because the investment is outside the USCIS-approved TEA, you will have to make a higher investment, by at least double the amount.
Additionally, you must prove that your investment/company has directly created at least 10 new jobs, and you must have a direct role in the company.
Requirements for EB-5 Visa Investment
The main requirements for an EB-5 Visa investment are:
- It must meet the minimum capital amount. Either $900,000 in a TEA or $1.8 million outside TEAs.
- It must create at least 10 new full-time jobs for at least two years. If you cannot prove immediately that the investment has created the positions, you should be able to prove that the need for at least 10 new full-time employees will arise.
- The money you invest must have been acquired legally.
- The investment must be approved by the USCIS.
- The enterprise you invest in must be a “for-profit” new commercial enterprise that was established after 1990.
- The money you invest must be considered “at-risk’”, meaning that there is no guarantee of capital return.
You must select the enterprise you wish to invest in yourself or through a regional center. Due to the amount of investment, you may find it necessary to hire legal representatives to help you through the process.
After your investment is settled, you have to gather the necessary evidence and submit the EB-5 Visa application.
How to Apply for an EB-5 Visa?
Once you have settled your investment, the process for applying for an EB-5 Visa is as follows:
- You apply to the USCIS using the Form I-526, which is essentially the application form for an Investment Visa. The USCIS may update the address in which you must submit the form, so you should check their website.
- The USCIS reviews the application and sends it to the National Visa Center (NVC).
- The NVC contact you and ask you to pay the relevant fees and submit the required documents. The NVC informs you where and how to pay the fee.
- You apply for an Immigrant Visa and enter an interview at the US Embassy. The NVC will inform you where and when the interview will take place, and what documents you should bring.
- If everything goes accordingly, the US Embassy issues your Immigrant Investor Visa (i.e. the two-year Green Card).
- If you are already in the US: You have to file for adjustment of status (Form I-485) with the USCIS instead of applying at a US Embassy.
Remember that the application process may differ depending on your location. So, if you are outside the US, your first point of reference should be the US Embassy in your country. They will likely be the most up-to-date regarding the application process and requirements.
Because of the large amount of money in question, many applicants choose to hire legal representatives to help with the EB-5 visa application process.
How Long Does the EB-5 Visa Process Take?
The process for obtaining an EB-5 Visa takes on average 13 months, from the time you submit your application with the USCIS. Because this is an average, the actual processing time could be longer or shorter, depending on your specific situation.
Documents Required for EB-5 Visa Application
When applying for an EB-5 Visa, the USCIS will ask you to prove your investment meets their requirements. The documents you have to submit include:
- Documentary evidence that you have either invested or are in the process of investing in a for-profit new commercial enterprise established after 1990; or
- Purchased a for-profit new commercial enterprise established before 1990 but reorganized so that a new enterprise results; or
- Invested in a for-profit new commercial enterprise established before 1990 but your investment resulted in at least a 40% increase in the net worth or number of employees.
- Evidence that you will manage or oversee the new enterprise.
- Evidence that your investment has led to at least ten new full-time jobs – directly or indirectly. Or submit a comprehensive business plan showing that at least ten new positions will be required if they are not at the moment.
- Evidence that you intend to keep the new employees for at least two years.
- Proof you have made the minimum required investment:
- Proof that your investment money was obtained lawfully. E.g:
- Foreign business registration records
- Corporate, partnership, or personal tax returns
- Proof of any other source of capital
- Proof of any pending civil or criminal actions against you from a court in or outside the USA from the previous 15 years (if applicable).
- Your passport.
- Passport-size pictures.
- Civil documents, such as birth and marriage certificates.
- Completed Medical Examination Forms.
Benefits of the EB-5 Visa
Receiving an EB-5 Visa means you can:
- Live, work, and study in the US, as can your family members.
- Get a Green Card, which you can renew continuously.
- Apply for American citizenship a few years down the line. This will give you access to one of the strongest passports in the world.
- Travel in and out of the US without having to apply for a visa.
- Travel to other countries which allow visa-free passage to Green Card holders.
- Get your capital investment back, if you invested wisely.
- Get access to American healthcare, which is known as one of the best in the world.
How Long Can I Stay in the US With an EB-5 Visa?
When you first receive a Green Card via EB-5 Investment, you will receive “conditional residency”. This means that the Green Card is valid for 2 years, during which you can live, work, and study in the US. You cannot be out of the country for more than one year, or you lose your residency status.
After two years on a “conditional residency” Green Card, you can apply for “unconditional/permanent residency”, aka a 10-year Green Card, which you can renew continuously.
Can I Live Anywhere in the US with an EB-5 Visa?
Yes, if you get an EB-5 Visa, you can live and work anywhere in the US you want. If you invested through a Regional Center, then you do not need to live in the same State as the State in which you invest.
However, if you made a direct investment, you may need to be near the enterprise you invested in because you will have to prove you are active in the company.
Family Members of EB-5 Visa Holders
If you are approved for an EB-5 Visa, the family members that can join you in the US are:
- Your spouse. Your spouse is eligible for both conditional and permanent residency along with you, provided that the two of you were married at the time you entered the US as a resident or when you change status from a conditional resident to a permanent resident after two years. Same-sex spouses also qualify. A common-law spouse does not qualify.
- Your children. You can bring any children under the age of 21 along with you, and they will be eligible for conditional or permanent residence. This includes birth children, adopted children, as well as step-children. You must be able to prove legitimate parent lineage. If your child is under the age of 21, but they are married, they do not qualify for the visa.
Can I Get American Citizenship With an EB-5 Visa?
Yes, you can become an American citizen if you get an EB-5 Visa. You can apply for citizenship after five years of having “unconditional residency” status (the 10-year Green Card). In total, you must live in the US for at least seven years before applying for citizenship.
You must also meet the other requirements regarding US Citizenship by Naturalization.
Do I Get Access to American Healthcare With an EB5 Visa?
Yes, you will have access to healthcare in the United States as an EB5 visa holder, however, the costs of getting medical treatment in the US are one of the highest in the world.
The treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital may cost over $10,000, on average. You should pick a health insurance plan that fits you best, which overall is also affordable and covers your needs.
EB-5 Visa Cost
The cost for the actual EB-5 Visa application is $3,675 for yourself and any applicants. Naturally, in addition to the $900,000 you invest and any other administrative fees, such as:
- Form DS-260 processing fee
- Medical examination fees
- Fees to obtain supporting documents
- Any translation fees from foreign language to English
- Any fees you pay to acquire legal help during the investment process