With more than half a dozen potential paths to obtaining a U.S. green card, finding the right option for you and your family may seem daunting. You not only need to learn what opportunities are available but also how those opportunities might fit with your unique circumstances.
In this post, we focus on the EB-5 green card specifically and how foreign nationals are tapping into the EB-5 program to secure this visa for themselves and their immediate family members.
What Is a U.S. Green Card?
If you have ever considered immigrating to the United States, then you’ve likely heard the term “green card” somewhere along the way. It is an identification card that reflects the holder’s living and working status as a permanent resident in the United States.
Anyone who holds a green card – otherwise known as a permanent resident card – has the privilege of residing in the United States for as long as they would like. Possessing a green card is a basic requirement for nearly anyone outside the United States to live in the country on a permanent basis.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides programs for eight general paths to obtaining a green card. These pathways are known as green card eligibility categories:
- Green card through Family
- Green card through Employment
- Green card as a Special Immigrant
- Green card through Refugee or Asylee Status
- Green card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Green card for Victims of Abuse
- Green card through Registry
- Green card through Other Categories
Unlike many nonimmigrant visa holders, a green card holder does not depend on their job to be allowed to stay in the United States. Those who hold a green card may select any place of employment and any location within the U.S. to live without time or other limitations.
While there are many pathways toward a green card, many immigrants pursue a green card and permanent residence in the U.S. based on employment.
Who Should Consider a Green Card through Employment?
Generally speaking, there are three categories of immigrants that might consider applying for a green card through employment. USCIS looks at applications from immigrant workers, physicians who agree to work in clinics in underserved areas, and immigrant investors.
Due to current processing timelines and other economic factors in the United States, immigrants have found that the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is one of the quickest and easiest paths to securing permanent resident status in the United States.
What Is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program?
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is an employment-based fifth-preference visa program developed by Congress and enacted through the Immigration Act of 1990.
Essentially, foreign nationals have an opportunity to invest in job-creating projects around the country in exchange for a clear path to securing a green card (and U.S. citizenship, if they choose) for themselves and their immediate family members.
Created in an effort to stimulate an ailing U.S. economy, this program has continued to gain popularity since inception among immigrant investors, U.S. workers who have gained employment through EB-5 projects, and developers who have been able to access inexpensive financing through the program.
In November 2019, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program saw its first modernization since inception. Under a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security rule, certain updates went into effect to streamline the EB-5 process and improve the overall efficacy of the program.
Program revisions cover priority dates, increased investment requirements, and reformed target employment area (TEA) designations, among other clarifications and technical changes.
Currently, there are four key investment criteria EB-5 immigrant investors must meet to qualify for an EB-5 visa:
- They must invest a minimum of $1.8 million in an approved EB-5 project (or a reduced amount of $900,000 when the EB-5 project is in a TEA).
- The investment must create a minimum of 10 full-time positions for U.S. workers, and those positions must be maintained for a minimum of two years.
- ●Capital may be infused into either an EB-5-approved new commercial enterprise (NCE) or into an EB-5-approved troubled business.
- All funds must be proven to have been obtained through legal channels, and EB-5 capital must remain at-risk throughout the investment period.
Following these basic investment guidelines can set a foreign national investor squarely on the path to obtaining a green card through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Let’s take a closer look at the EB-5 program process below.
How Does Someone Obtain a Green Card through the EB-5 Program?
There are five steps to obtaining an EB-5 green card through the EB-5 program. Retaining legal counsel with an experienced immigration attorney is always recommended to ensure as smooth a journey as possible.
Step 1: Find the right EB-5 project to invest in.
Step 2: File an I-526 petition and invest the necessary capital into the project.
Step 3: Secure your temporary conditional permanent resident status.
Step 4: File an I-829 petition to remove the conditions from your resident status.
Step 5: Apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of permanent residency (if you wish).
Your immediate family members – your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 – are also eligible for EB-5 visas through your investment.
Is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program the Right Option for You?
There are a few key questions foreign nationals should ask themselves when deciding whether the EB-5 program is the right option for them to obtain a U.S. green card:
Am I looking for short-term or long-term relocation in the United States? If you are looking for a permanent immigration solution, the EB-5 program is superior to many others. Typically, visa programs offer anywhere from a few years to a few months of residency permission in the United States – think visas for short-term employment contracts and college students.
What is my purpose for coming to the United States? For those seeking to make a life in the U.S. for themselves and their family without the constraints of maintaining employer sponsorships or student status, investing in an EB-5 project can provide as little or as much hands-on experience as the investor wants.
Would I prefer to bring my household family members with me? While some immigrant programs have strict regulations on who may accompany a visa holder and how family members can obtain entry into the United States, the EB-5 program automatically allows qualifying family members to apply for an EB-5 visa under a single passive investment.
There are plenty of other considerations to make before deciding to take the plunge, but by and large, this is one of the least complex paths to getting a green card for the United States.
Where Can You Get More Information About the EB-5 Green Card?
Boasting decades of extensive experience in corporate strategy, immigration law, investment evaluation, and securities and tax laws, EB5 Affiliate Network is an essential partner in helping foreign nationals secure the right path to an EB-5 green card.
The firm offers creative, turn-key solutions for immigrant investors hoping to infuse capital into quality EB-5-approved projects across the country.
Considering the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program? Explore the online library of investor resources and tools available to you. If you still have questions, feel free to reach out to EB5 Affiliate Network directly.
Written on behalf of Sam Silverman of EB5AN: Sam has extensive real estate development, management, financing, and brokerage experience in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia, and internationally in the People’s Republic of China. Prior to EB5AN, Sam served as the director of corporate strategy and expansion for professional golfer Jack Nicklaus in the People’s Republic of China, living full time in Beijing. Sam was also previously employed by the Boston Consulting Group, one of the top management consulting and business strategy firms in the world, where he worked directly with Fortune 500 companies in the food service, media, manufacturing, hospitality, and real estate spaces in the U.S., Europe, and Middle East. Sam is also a Forbes 30 Under 30 National Winner for Social Entrepreneurship. Sam holds a B.A. Economics with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese from Yale University, a Certificate in Financial Accounting from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.