The EB-5 visa or the Fifth Priority Workers visa is for those who create jobs and employment positions in the U.S and invest in the U.S economy. It is very different from the other types of visas because it does not require a U.S employer to petition for the foreign immigrant.
The EB-5 visa allows a foreign citizen to obtain a U.S Green Card through investing and creating jobs in the U.S economy. The investment must be between $500,000 and $1 million and create at least 10 jobs for U.S citizens or foreign immigrants. It makes a distinction between the general U.S economy and target areas which are rural places where there is high unemployment in the U.S
Based on these target areas, there are different types of EB-5 visas, such as:
- C-5 visa for investors who create jobs outside of target areas
- T-5 visa for investors who create jobs in targeted rural or high unemployment areas
- R-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program not in a target area
- I-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area
This article will go through the I-5 visa, what it is, its requirements, how to apply, and other relevant details.
What is the I-5 visa?
The EB-5 visa is the investor’s visa to increase economic activity in the U.S. It specifies different areas where investors can invest. These areas can be general, targeted areas with high unemployment and rural, as well as Regional Centers.
Regional Centers have been created to increase economic growth through increased exports, employment, productivity, and domestic capital investment. The U.S created the Investor Pilot Program to stimulate investment in regional centers. Regional Centers can be in general areas or in targeted areas.
The I-5 visa is for those investors who invest in regional centers in targeted areas with high unemployment and in rural places. It allows the investor to get a Green Card and live permanently in the U.S.
The visa holder can travel in and out of the U.S for short periods of time, but must respect all U.S laws and regulations as well as pay taxes.
Since the I-5 visa is part of the EB-5 visas, it is subject to an annual cap or limit on the visas issued each year. The EB-5 visa gets only around 10,000 visas per year. Most of the visas are given to investors who put their investments in targeted areas, so the I-5 visa qualifies for that. This means that only around 3,000 I-5 visas are given per year to those that qualify.
What are the requirements of the I-5 visa?
To qualify for the I-5 visa, there are several requirements that you as the applicant must meet.
The first requirement is to invest in a regional center within a targeted area. The targeted area must have high unemployment or be in a rural area. The U.S economic institutions and organizations update the information on which areas count as targeted and where the regional center are located.
The second requirement is that the investor must invest in a commercial enterprise established on or before November 29th, 1990. There are two forms which the investment can be made:
- By buying an existing enterprise and restructuring it into a new commercial enterprise
- By investing to expand an existing enterprise and increasing its net worth by 40% or increase its employment
The third requirement is to increase employment in the commercial enterprise or in other companies by 10 people within 2 years. The jobs must be permanent and full time and hiring family members of the investor does not count. If the investor invests in a troubled business that is close to bankruptcy, the requirement is then to maintain all current jobs without laying off people.
The fourth and final requirement is on the amount of the investment. Because the I-5 visa is for targeted areas, the minimum investment is $500,000. The investment must be the investor’s personal asset and not borrowed.
How to apply for the I-5 visa?
If you as the applicant fulfill all the criteria for the I-5 visa, then you can start applying. The application procedure for the I-5 visa is divided into two parts:
- Getting an approved petition from the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Applying for the I-5 immigrant visa
Filing the petition
Before you are allowed to apply for the I-5 visa, you must first confirm your eligibility with the U.S authorities. The organization in charge for this type of visa is USCIS. To comply with this requirement, you must file a petition by sending Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.
Different from the other types of employment visas, you can file the petition yourself and do not need a U.S employer to do that. When USCIS gets the petition, they will review it and inform you whether you have been approved or denied. If your petition is approved, it will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) who will be responsible for your application from that point onwards.
The NVC will assign a case number and invoice ID number to you and send you a package with instructions and forms about how to apply. The package will only be sent to you when your priority date becomes current and you are allowed to apply. If your priority date is not current, you will have to wait and then apply.
Apply for the I-5 visa
When your priority date is current and you receive the instructions from NVC, you can then apply for the I-5 visa at the U.S Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. You must follow these steps:
- Apply online by submitting Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application. The form serves as your application and you can access it through your case number. When you are done, you will get a confirmation page and code which you will later send to the NVC.
- Complete a medical examination and get the necessary vaccines which are outlined in your instructions from the NVC. Your medical examination documents must be signed by a licensed doctor.
- Compile your supporting documents and send them to the NVC. Your file must include:
- Your passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after your intended departure to the U.S
- Your investment plans
- Your bank statements proving you have the necessary amounts of money
- The approved petition
- Your DS-260 confirmation page
- Your signed medical and vaccine documents
- Two photographs meeting the Photo Requirements
- Academic achievements (diplomas and certificates)
- Your CV or resume
- Court and criminal records
- Depending on the case, the NVC might require other supporting documents, so you must follow their instructions carefully.
- Attend the visa interview which is scheduled by the NVC at your U.S Embassy after they have reviewed your supporting documents.
- Receive your immigration package and travel to the U.S. The NVC will send you this package after your visa has been approved and you must not open it. You must travel with it to the U.S and an immigration official at the U.S port of entry will open it and determine whether you are allowed to enter the country.
What are the I-5 visa fees?
There are many fees which you are responsible for paying while you apply for the I-5 visa. The amounts vary and are decided by USCIS and the U.S Embassy in the country you are applying from. In general, you will have to pay the following fees:
- USCIS Form I-526 petition filing fee
- Form DS-260 processing fee
- Medical examination fees
- Fees to obtain supporting documents
- Any translation fees from foreign language to English
Your application will not be processed if you do not pay the fees before the deadlines specified by USCIS, NVC, and the U.S Embassy where you are applying in.
How long is the I-5 visa processing time?
Since the I-5 visa has only 3,000 visas for one year to give to applicants, the processing time can be long. How long you have to wait for your application to be processed depends on when you submit your application and how many people are before you.
Because of this, you might end up waiting from a few months to a few years for your visa to be processed so there is no definitive time on how long you must wait to get your investor’s Green Card.
How to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) with a I-5 visa?
The next step after you have gotten your I-5 visa is to become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S. This is usually known as getting the Green Card. To change your status from your immigrant visa to an LPR, you must first have an approved petition from USCIS and the visa, as well as live in the U.S.
Afterwards, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. This form will be processed and if approved you will get your Green Card in the mail after a few weeks.
Can I bring my family to the U.S with an I-5 visa?
After being approved for the I-5 visa, you are then allowed to bring your family to live with you permanently in the U.S. The U.S only accepts your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old to accompany you. Other family members must apply for other appropriate U.S visas.
With derivative I-5 visas, your children are allowed to attend school, while your spouse can apply for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD allows your spouse to work in the U.S. The spouse can choose to work in the established commercial enterprise you are investing in or find another job.