What is an EB-5 Investor Visa?
An EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa granted to foreigners in exchange for investment in the business and creating 10 jobs for qualified Americans. The EB-5 visa is valid for 2 years. Once the visa petition is approved, an investor can move to the USA and work there. Later, the visa can change into a Green Card.
The minimum investment is $800,000 and applies to projects in the Targeted Employment Areas. These areas have an average unemployment rate 50% above the national average, primarily rural areas. To invest in a business outside the TEA, you must contribute $1,000,000+.
About 95% of the investors file applications through Regional Centers, companies licensed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They handle funds from foreigners who want to participate in the EB-5 visa program and help them create jobs.
There are many benefits that the EB-5 visa offers its holders, such as prospects of US citizenship, an opportunity to study in US universities, living in the country for as long as the visa is valid, and others. Let’s take a closer look at them.
1. Participation from any country with family members
When applying for the EB-5 visa, the investor can add their close family members: a spouse and unmarried children under 21. Adopted and investor’s other marital children are included. A spouse must be over 18 and have no criminal record.
The sum of investment doesn’t depend on the family composition.
2. Obtaining a Green Card and citizenship
With the EB-5 visa, a person first obtains a conditional Green Card, equivalent to a residence permit. After two years, they can file an I-829 petition with the USCIS to remove restrictions on obtaining permanent residency.
Next, they get a permanent residence and an ordinary Green Card. Application for US citizenship is possible after 5 years of living in the country with permanent residency.
There are other programs for people who want to move to the USA. For example, an investor can also obtain an EB-2 visa by contributing to the economy. The requirements are simple: an investment of about $200,000 and creating 5+ jobs.
However, unlike the EB-5 visa, the EB-2 visa is not an immigrant one. After obtaining it, you can’t apply for a Green Card or US citizenship.
3. Joining the US lifestyle
Investors have a right to move to the US, live there for EB-5 visa validity, and enjoy the US lifestyle to the fullest.
American dream. Even today, the US is a country where everything is possible. It offers job and business opportunities and a chance to enjoy a high level of life.
Many leading companies are located in the US, and many of the wealthiest people in the world are Americans. Their examples and the general mindset of American people motivate foreigners to find their path to success.
Friendly people. Americans are generally amicable, outgoing and easy to make friends with. It is also a part of their culture to smile and say nice things, even to strangers.
Diversity. People from many countries come to the USA to pursue their dreams. Today, the US is home to about 45 million foreigners, which is 13.6% of the US population. Mexicans, Indians, and Chinese are among the largest diasporas.
This diversity allows people to learn about other cultures, enjoy different cuisines, visit festivals, and be surrounded by people of their nationality.
Climate and nature. The US has everything you can imagine: mountains, seashores, deserts, and forests. Whether you want to surf or climb cliffs, there is always something for you.
The US stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and thanks to that, the country has places with different climates, which allows everyone to choose the best place to live.
Travel opportunities. Since the US is a large country, there are many places of interest: cities, villages, attractions and national parks. It would take years to visit all the country’s major sights. Besides the USA, you can easily access Mexica, Canada and the Caribbean as they are nearby.
The US has a well-developed air traffic system with airports in all major cities and some small towns. Taking planes in the States is also cheaper than in many other countries.
4. Investment return
It is possible to get an investment return after 5—7 years when the investment cycle is completed. The sum depends on each specific project. However, you should be aware that a return on investment is not guaranteed.
5. Opportunity to study in the best US schools and colleges
Children of investors with EB-5 visas are allowed to study in US schools. English is the primary language in most schools and is the language of all subjects. However, children can choose to learn other languages. There are also schools for non-English speaking foreigners.
Extracurriculars are an essential part of children’s education. They may join sports teams or cheerleading groups, take drama classes or participate in a science club. Participation in these activities can influence children’s chances of later entering a desired college or university.
There are many good universities in the USA. According to the QS World University Rankings 2023, the best university in the world is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US. In general, 9 US institutions are in the top 20 of this ranking. Many people in business and scientists started their careers in one of them.
6. Access to high-quality healthcare services
Even though healthcare services are pretty expensive in the USA, they are of high quality. Clinics and hospitals have modern equipment, comfortable wards and friendly staff. The best doctors worldwide come to the United States to work. The US also pays a lot of attention to medical research.
7. Economic and political safety and stability
The US has faced some challenges in recent years. But with a GDP of 23.3 trillion, it is still the largest economy in the world. It is a home for one of the best-known companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and many others.
The country also doesn’t have high rates of inflation or government corruption. Elections in the United States are transparent, and the results depend on the citizens themselves.
8. Visa-free access to the US and other countries
With a Green Card, a person can enter the USA without any additional documents and at any time. In case of instability in your country of origin, it is especially advantageous. The Green Card also allows visa-free travel to Canada and some South American countries.
At the same time, US passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to more than 180 countries, including the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and many other attractive destinations.
EB-5 visa holders who become US citizens can receive Social Security benefits upon retirement. These benefits depend on the time the person worked in the US. However, the average amount is $1,500-1,800 per month.
The full retirement age is 66—67, but some retirees continue to work and receive both a salary and a retirement benefit.
10. Opening a bank account
People with EB-5 investment visas can open bank accounts in US banks to earn interest on their money or to make transactions abroad. The most popular currencies are the dollar and the euro. However, it is possible to open accounts in other major world currencies.
According to Forbes, the top-3 American bank holding companies are CVB Financial in California, First Financial Bankshares in Texas and Enterprise Financial Services in Missouri.
11. International driver license
Green Card holders can get a driving license in the USA. It allows them to travel anywhere in the US and visit Canada and Mexico without obtaining another license.
You can obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) based on your US driver’s license, allowing Americans to travel in foreign countries. For example, with it, you can quickly drive in Schengen countries such as Austria, France, Italy, or the Netherlands. Sometimes, however, you may need to translate your IDP into the local language.
12. Sponsors are not required
In many cases, a person wishing to immigrate to the US must have a sponsor to prove the legality of their immigration. For example, a person applying for a work visa must have an invitation letter from the employer, and someone who wants to study in the US must provide proof of enrollment.
At the same time, the EB-5 investor doesn’t need sponsorship. They are only required to meet the EB-5 program’s guidelines.
13. No business experience or language skills required
Under the EB-5 visa program, the investor and their family members don’t need any qualifications. They are also not obliged to pass any English language tests.
Disadvantages of EB-5 visa
Risky investment. There is no guarantee that you will receive a Green Card or will not lose investment money while applying for the EB-5 visa. There are three risky scenarios that you need to take into account.
- The chosen project does well but hasn’t created enough jobs. In this case, the investor can get their investment back but will not get a conditional 2-year Green Card.
- The project has created enough jobs but faces financial difficulties. In this situation, the investor gets a Green Card but doesn’t get an investment return.
- The project hasn’t created enough jobs and is not doing well financially. In this case, the applicant can lose all the investment and a Green Card.
An extended period of obtainment. The average time to obtain the EB-5 visa and a conditional Green Card is 5+ years. Of these 5 years, 3 are required to process the visa application. During this time, the situation in both the investor’s life and business activities can change significantly.
Need to make an investment before the visa approval. For example, the investor must transfer the investment to the selected project before applying for the EB-5 visa. Therefore, if the application is denied, which rarely happens, it is possible to lose money.
Management of the company. The Regional Center provides the investor with all the necessary documentation about the selected project and creates 10 jobs in the investor’s company. However, it doesn’t manage the company, so the applicant must carry out all business activities.
How to apply for a US EB-5 investment visa
The minimum investment amount varies depending on whether a project is located in a Targeted Employment Area or not. The requirements are as follows:
- $800,000+ — if a business is located in a Targeted Employment Area;
- $1,000,000+ — if a project is located outside a Targeted Employment Area.
Besides investment, the applicant must pay fees: an administrative fee of $70,000, a registration fee of $1,000, and others.
The investor can apply for the EB-5 visa if they meet several requirements, such as being over 18, having a legal income, and having no criminal record. In addition, the applicant can include their spouse and children under 21.
There are 6 main steps to obtaining an EB-5 visa and a conditional Green Card.
Conducted within one day by the Certified Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officers and helps reduce the risk of denial to 1%. The check is confidential, and the applicant only provides a passport. Immigrant Invest signs the contract with the investor after the Preliminary Due Diligence.
Lawyers provide the applicant with a list of required documents. When all the papers are collected, the lawyers translate and notarize them.
The applicant transfers money to the chosen project, and the Regional Center helps create 10 jobs.
In return, the Regional Center provides the package for the investment project, such as a cover letter, a business plan, an economic report, and documents confirming the Center’s activities.
The investor files an I-526E petition and an EB-5 visa application. If the applicant resides outside the US, they submit documents to the US consulate.
If the investor is already in the US, they apply through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS.
Consideration of the application takes 3—4 years.
After the EB-5 visa is approved, the investor goes to the US and files another petition — I-485. The processing time is 6+ months.
The USCIS schedules a biometric collection date. Sometimes the applicant must also undergo an interview.
After living in the States with a conditional Green Card for two years, the investor can obtain an ordinary Green Card. To do so, they file an I-829 petition to remove restrictions on obtaining permanent residency. After five more years, the applicant can apply for US citizenship.
- An EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa granted to foreigners who invest at least $800,000 in an American business and create at least 10 jobs.
- Foreigners with EB-5 visas also receive conditional Green Cards and, after two years, an ordinary Green Card. It is possible to obtain a US passport in the following five years.
- EB-5 visas offer many advantages, such as bringing family members, obtaining permanent residence and citizenship, and moving to the USA.
- Among the disadvantages are risky investments, a long period of obtainment and participation in the company’s management.
- To apply for the EB-5 visa, the investor must be over 18, have a legal income and have no criminal record. They can also add a spouse and children under 21 to the application.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to obtain a US passport eventually but don’t have any ties with the country, the EB-5 visa might be the best option.
It allows the investor to move to the States alongside their family and be eligible to get a US passport after 7 years of living there.
The EB-5 visa can be obtained by investing in a USA business of $800,000+ and creating 10+ jobs for qualified American employees.
Yes, it is possible. However, the money can be returned only after completing the investment cycle. It usually takes 5—7 years.
Yes, it opens the path to a Green Card. An investor can apply for it two years after holding a conditional Green Card issued to people with an EB-5 visa.
The success rate of EB-5 obtainment is between 75—80%. The Immigrant Invest helps reduce any refusal risks down to 1%.
Obtaining an EB-5 visa can be risky — you can lose money and an issued Green Card. However, if you apply with the help of certified lawyers and through a trustworthy Regional Center, there is a big chance that you will succeed.
To apply for the EB-5 visa, an investor needs to meet the following requirements:
- be over 18;
- have a legal income;
- have no criminal record.
The investor can add their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to the application.
The investment requirements include the following:
- contribution of $800,000+ if the business is a Targeted Employment Area;
- investment of $1,000,000+ if the project is located outside a Targeted Employment Area.
A minimum of 10 jobs must also be created.