Find out how a foreign investor and his/her family can get a permanent Visa in the USA thanks to real estate investments.
What is the EB-5 program and what does it offer?
The “US Immigrant Investor” (EB-5) governmental program, launched in 1990, addresses foreign investors who wish to obtain for themselves and their families a permanent Visa in the United States of America, also known as “Green Card”.
Furthermore, 5 years after obtaining such document, it is possible to apply for US citizenship if one wishes so.
Unlike other ways for obtaining the Green Card, investing in an EB-5 project does not have any limitation of age, education, knowledge of the English language or previous professional experience and, as mentioned before, it extends to the investor’s spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 at application.
What steps to follow?
PHASE 1: Finding an EB-5 project
The first step consists of finding out a suitable real estate project in which invest, among the EB-5s.
They usually are trade activities or regional centres projects. A real estate project can be included in the EB-5 program’s list if it abides to the following criteria:
- It must be on US soil
- It must be located in an area with a high level of unemployment
- It must create at least 10 full time jobs for American qualified workers for at least 2 years
PHASE 2: Capital investment and I-526 Petition
After choosing the project in which invest, the next step is paying the required amount of money, usually on an Escrow account. An Escrow account consists of a written agreement among two parties (buyer and seller), who decide to deposit respectively money and property deed on a third party’s account, a guarantor. Thus, the money will be released by the third party only when some pre-arranged conditions will be fulfilled by both buyer and seller. This solution in often used in the real estate field, and it is well suited for EB-5 projects as well.
In order to bring legal proof of the origin and the allocation of funds, it is mandatory to file a form named “I-526 Petition”. Its approval guarantees the investor and his/her family the right to a conditional Visa in the USA.
This process takes place thanks to an immigration attorney, who provides proof of the investment by filing the I-526 Petition and presenting it to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). After usually 12-18 months, the USCIS usually informs the applicant of the success or less of the outcome.
Once the procedure has been approved and thus it has been demonstrated that:
- An investment of at least 500,000 $ (if the project lies in a Targeted Employment Area, TEA) or 1 M $ has been made;
- 10 full-time jobs for American qualified workers have been created in the scheduled time (or at least in a reasonable amount of time) for at least 2 years;
the Visa’s conditionality falls, and it becomes permanent.
PHASE 3: Conditional permanent Visa for two years
At this stage, the applicant becomes a US conditional resident for two years, in order to implement the project financed by the EB-5 investment. EB-5 investors become American residents once their I-526 Petition has been approved by USCIS. Residence can be obtained in two ways:
- If the EB-5 investor already has a legal status in the USA, in which case he/she must file the I-485 form in order to modify such status in conditional permanent resident.
- If the investor does not already have a legal status in the USA, a Visa must be asked for by sending the DS-230 form to National Visa Center, through US consulate or embassy in one’s own country.
Both ways typically require the assistance of an immigration attorney, and the Visa is released on average within 6-12 months. During the period of conditional permanent residence, the investor must fulfil some physical presence requirements, and cannot stay out of the USA for more than a year without obtaining a re-entry permit.
From the moment they get the Visa, the investor and his/her family are free to live everywhere in the USA, and according to US law and timing they can apply for citizenship.
PHASE 4: Unconditional Permanent Visa and I-829 Petition
The final step is becoming unconditional permanent residents, by removing the two years’ conditional status. To do so, one has to send the I-829 Petition to USCIS 90 days before the anniversary of the anniversary of the first conditional residence permit. Such form proves the investor has fulfilled all the EB-5 program requirements.
In most cases the USCIS provides a permanent Green Card 6-8 months after I-829 has been presented. The investor, his/her spouse and their unmarried children under 21 at the moment of application, can now live and work permanently in the USA, and have the option to apply for American citizens after 5 years from the beginning of their unconditional residence.
A quick footnote: purchasing a unit within an EB-5 project is not the same thing as investing for obtaining the Green Card. In the first case no matter the amount paid, you will simply get a property, while in the second you will provide a financing, that will subsequently be paid back to you. Again, for the second situation, bear in mind that obtaining a permanent Visa involves non-negligible legal expenses, and that despite the invested capital they will not returned.
Why choose to rely on OPISAS?
Do you wish to invest in the United States and get a Green Card through an EB-5 project? Are you looking for high-end real estate investments that combine revenue and personal use? OPISAS is your only referent, assisting you throughout the choice and the solutions for living your American dream.
In fact, OPISAS’ Team is at your disposal for finding and selecting the EB-5 project that best suits your needs, for putting you in contact with the best legal experts, so that you can best be served in the whole process, from filing I-526 Petition to obtaining the Green Card for you and your family.