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Investors who want to live in the U.S. or become U.S. citizens can explore becoming an EB5 investor. EB5 investors can apply for a visa and potentially acquire citizenship in the United States. Here you’ll find an overview of the EB5 application process, including the forms to fill out, the standard EB5 investment amount, and the likelihood of seeing a return on your investment.

What Is an EB5 Investor?

An EB5 investor is someone who is not a U.S. citizen who invests in an EB5-related project in the U.S. EB-5-related projects often include things like commercial construction projects or already established companies. To be considered an EB5 project, the venture must create ten full-time jobs for those authorized to work in the United States. Investors can invest in companies or projects alone or as part of a partnership. Noncommercial investments are not eligible to be an EB5 project. Those who invest in EB5 projects are eligible to apply for an EB5 visa.

What Is an EB5 Visa?

An EB5 visa is specifically designed for foreign investors wishing to become U.S. residents. These investors can acquire a visa by investing in U.S. property or businesses. This visa may eventually open up a path toward permanent residence. Investors may invest in a project independently or through an EB5 regional center. An EB5 regional center can help clients choose an appropriate project to invest in and help file visa paperwork.

How Does Someone Get an EB5 Visa?

To begin acquiring the visa, applicants must first file either Form I-526 or Form I-526E. Form I-529 is for a standalone investor. Form I-526E is for an investor working with an EB5 regional center. If an investor is working with a regional center, then the center should be able to assist with filing Form I-526E.

If that form is approved, the next step is to file either Form I-485 or DS-260. Form DS-260 is for those seeking an EB5 visa who are still living outside of the U.S. Form I-485 is for those requesting that the government adjust their status to conditional permanent resident in the U.S. and comes with a conditional green card if approved. Approval of this form also means the investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 24 can legally live in the U.S. with a conditional green card. This green card status is typically valid for two years. Green card holders do not need to live in the same area as the project they are investing in.

Within the three months before the green card expires, the investor should file Form I-829. This form requests that the government change your temporary green card to a permanent one. If this petition is approved, the investor and any listed dependents may receive permanent green cards. The hoped-for timeline for this entire process is 12-26 months, but timelines may vary.

After holding a permanent green card for five years, the green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship.

What Is the Eb5 Investment Amount?

EB5 investments can be categorized as either a targeted economic area (TEA) project or a non-TEA project. A TEA is an area that is either rural (outside of a metropolitan area) or experiencing high unemployment (more than 150% of the national average). The minimum investment amounts for TEA projects are less than non-TEA projects. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the minimum eb5 investment amount for a TEA project is $800,000, and the minimum investment amount for a non-TEA project is $1,050,000. These funds can come from any legal source.

Eb5 Investment Centers

While few investments are without risk, an EB5 regional center can help you choose a project that may have a better chance of giving you returns. However, with EB5 investments, the sought-after result is more often a U.S. green card than a significant financial return.

Investing with an EB5 regional center may help mitigate the financial risks of investing. EB5 regional centers are private enterprises or government agencies that focus on specific projects within a region. Regional centers often take the lead in managing the projects they cover. Consider working with a USCIS-approved regional center with a good record of getting financial returns for its investors. See if the center keeps detailed economic reports of how projects are progressing and note how much the center is willing to share with you about your projects.