Introduced in the 1990s, the EB-5 visa program has given thousands of foreign investors the chance to live the American Dream, launch their businesses, and secure US permanent residency. But, back then, the process of petitioning for an EB-5 visa was extremely different from what it looks like today.
Thanks to the recent reforms and updates, petitioning for an EB-5 visa is not as complicated as it seems – especially if you are working with an experienced EB-5 immigration attorney. Here’s what to expect from the journey ahead.
The EB-5 Visa: An Overview For Investors
Introduced and regulated by USCIS, the Employment-Based Fifth Preference Visa – also known as EB-5 Visa – is a program designed to attract foreign investors to the US. And, today, it is one of the favoured pathways to obtaining a green card.
Foreign investors with enough available capital can invest in a new or existing commercial enterprise located in the US, while also becoming lawful permanent residents of America. While this option is known as the “Golden Visa” for a reason, foreign investors self-petitioning for an EB-5 green card often face strict eligibility requirements and extremely long waiting times. Luckily, the most recent updates and reforms have made it easier for alien entrepreneurs to succeed.
EB-5 Visa: March 2022 Updates And Current Requirements
Among the price increase proposals that passed in 2019, the sunset period of the Regional Center program in June 2021, and the always-changing investment requirements, it is easy to feel confused as to what are the current requirements of the EB-5 program. However, with the resumption of the EB-5 visa program on March 22nd, 2022, new guidelines came into effect. These include:
- Investments can be made towards a new business or an existing commercial enterprise.
- A minimum of $1,050,000 for direct investments and Regional Center projects
- A minimum of $800,000 for investments in TEAs, or Targeted Employment Areas that report an unemployment rate at least 150% greater than the national average
- The creation and maintenance of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifiable employees (not including the investor’s family members).
Direct vs Regional Center Investments: Which Option Is For You?
Investors looking to obtain a green card by self-petitioning for an EB-5 visa have two main options: make a direct investment in a new or existing commercial enterprise or leverage the support of a Regional Center. Choosing between the two options isn’t easy and can make a difference in an investor’s chances of success – and, in turn, their chances of getting a green card. The best choice depends on each investor’s goals, risk tolerance, and management preference. However, as a general rule:
- Regional Center Projects are vetted and approved by USCIS and reduce both investor and immigration risk for alien entrepreneurs. These projects are professionally managed and often collect investments from multiple contributors, which ensures that the job creation requirement is more easily met.
- Direct investments can be made towards establishing a new commercial enterprise or purchasing equity in an existing business.
It is important to notice that direct investments can be riskier for alien entrepreneurs with little knowledge of a certain industry or area, but they offer investors full managerial control. On the other hand, Regional Centers are a lower-risk option perfect for those looking for a hands-off approach to investing.
Today, most of the EB-5 petitions are through Regional Centers. But, before choosing, it is essential to consider that the new EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 have introduced new limitations, such as caps on construction jobs, reduced TEA letters’ validity length, and increased frequency of USCIS audits.
What To Expect From An EB-5 Green Card Petition
The project of petitioning for an EB-5 is, on paper, fairly straightforward. Indeed, applicants will only need to file Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor). Once approved, investors can petition for a DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) or Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
Lastly, after two years, investors and their immediate relatives can file Form I-829 or Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. In an attempt to make this process even easier, the new reforms to the EB-5 visa process also specify that:
- Pending petitions won’t be subjected to the new guidelines
- Processing of EB-5 petitions will continue regardless of future lapses
- While 10,000 EB-5 visas are available each year, they are subdivided by categories (20% for investments in rural areas, 10% in high unemployment areas, and 2% in infrastructures)
- Children of investors will be guaranteed a visa if they age out during the petition processing
- Investors can switch between projects if one is terminated
Before embarking on the journey of petitioning for an EB-5 visa, it is important for entrepreneurs to know that processing times still stand at around 5-6 years. Working with a specialised attorney can help you speed up the process through win-win strategies, such as setting up a business that operates in the national interest of the United States.
Source By https://www.lawyer-monthly.com/2022/05/what-are-the-latest-eb-5-guidelines-and-requirements-in-2022/