Bring Your American Dream to Reality: Green Cards and EB-5 Visas in 2023

A scheme that allows foreign investors to get their legal permanent residence (a.k.a. green card) in the U.S. by investing in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves the minimum of 10 full-time jobs for highly-qualified U.S. workers, the EB-5 visa was introduced by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the national economy through job creation and capital investment. In 2023, the EB-5 visa program offers numerous benefits for foreign investors and their families:

  • living, working, studying, and traveling anywhere in the U.S.
  • applying for U.S. citizenship after 5 years
  • including your spouse and children under 21 in the same application
  • choosing between direct or regional center investment
  • investing in a TEA and paying less.

The EB-5 visa program also involves certain risks and challenges:

  • investing a lot of money from legal sources
  • not knowing if you will get the visa and how long you’ll have to wait
  • losing your money or green card if the project does not create or keep enough jobs
  • checking the project and the regional center carefully
  • following the U.S. tax rules.

To get their green card through the EB-5 visa in 2023, investors need to be aware of the program’s rules, steps, and helpful tips. This article by the International Wealth team offers valuable recommendations on how to do that.

Steps to your EB-5 visa

Step 1: Choose your investment advisor and immigration attorney

The first step in the EB-5 visa process is to choose a reputable investment advisor and immigration lawyer to help you with the investment, documentation, and legal issues. The investment advisor will find a project that fits the EB-5 criteria, your risk and investment preferences, and has an excellent record. The immigration lawyer is in charge of filing the required forms and evidence, advising you on the immigration rules, and representing you before USCIS and DOS.

Step 2: Find an EB-5 project meeting the program requirements

Next, find a project that fits the EB-5 rules. It must be a new business that makes money and was launched after November 29, 1990, or restructured to have at least 40% more value or workers. Besides being a direct or regional center investment, it also needs to make or save at least 10 U.S. jobs in 2 years after you enter the U.S. as a temporary resident.

A direct investment is when the investor puts money into a business and manages it. With a regional center investment, you will invest in a business linked to a regional center (an entity that boosts the economy in the area). A regional center investment lets the investor count all the jobs created by the project, not just the direct ones, and the investor themselves may be either a limited or a passive partner.

The minimum investment amount for the EB-5 visa program in 2023 is USD 800,000 if the project is in a TEA (a rural area or an area of high unemployment at least 150% above the national average) and USD 1,050,000 for all other projects.

Step 3: Invest the capital and file the I-526 application

The third step is to invest the capital and file the I-526 application with USCIS. The capital in the form of cash, equipment, inventory, or other tangible assets must be from a lawful source (earned income, inheritance, gift, loan, or property sale). Mind that it will be at risk, which means that there is no guarantee of investment return or repayment. 

The I-526 application is the petition that demonstrates the investor’s eligibility for the EB-5 visa program. Here’s what it shall include:

  • your personal information (name, date of birth, nationality, and address)
  • source and path of funds (bank statements, tax returns, and contracts)
  • investment agreement (subscription or partnership agreement, alternatively, promissory note)
  • proof of investment (wire transfer, receipt, or certificate)
  • proof of job creation (business plan, economic report, or payroll report).

The I-526 application must be filed with USCIS along with a filing fee of USD 4,010. The processing time in this case depends on the case complexity and the USCIS workload.

As of October 2023, the average processing time for the I-526 application is 24 months.

Step 4: Apply for adjustment of status or consular processing

Apply for adjustment of status or consular processing. This step depends on whether the investor is already in the United States or outside the jurisdiction. If in the U.S. with a valid student, work, or tourist visa, you can file the I-485 application with USCIS and pay USD 1,225. For that purpose, be prepared to provide your personal data, proof of identity, nonimmigrant status, and eligibility, as well as your medical examination data and biometric information (please, contact International Wealth for further details).

As of October 2023, the average processing time for the I-485 application is 12 months.

If outside the US, the investor must apply for consular processing to obtain an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the investor’s home country. 

In this case, the investor must also submit their proof of identity, eligibility, financial support, and medical examination to the National Visa Center (NVC) or the U.S. embassy or consulate.

You will have to go to the U.S. embassy or consulate for an interview about your EB-5 investment and immigration intent. As of October 2023, it takes 6 months on average to process the case.

Step 5: Obtain a two-year conditional Green Card

The fifth step is to obtain a two-year conditional green card. Following this, you will have to remove the conditions and obtain a permanent green card. For that purpose, the investor must file the I-829 with USCIS 90 days before the conditional green card expires. The I-829 shows that you met the EB-5 rules. If the I-829 is approved, the investor and their family will get a permanent green card, which lasts for 10 years and can be renewed.

At International Wealth, we hope you will successfully obtain a green card through the EB-5 visa. Should you encounter any issues along the way, please, contact our immigration specialists! We are here to assist you 24/7.