If you are looking to take advantage of the Immigrant Investor Program, it helps to start by knowing its history. The United States was not the first industrialized nation to offer a program like this. In fact, it was included in the Immigration Act of 1990 because it had proven to be successful in other countries, and the U.S. used the best features of their models to construct its own. The idea was to stimulate economic activity and create more jobs for the American people as a whole by offering permanent residency and an opportunity for citizenship to foreign investors in American commercial enterprises.
The program was not fully operational until 1992, at which point the first wave of applicants was able to gain approval. In 1993, the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was initiated by the United States Congress to help stimulate interest in the program. From there, the EB5 visa opportunity began to attract attention, growing more and more popular every year. Here are some of the main changes:
- Finding a Suitable Project – As a first step, an EB – 5 applicants should start out by finding a business project which will be suitable. This may be either a regional center project or a commercial enterprise. There are overseas migrations agents who frequently help such investors to find projects that are acceptable. Once this first step is completed, applicants need to make sure that they meet the investment requirements so that the process can continue forward.
- The I-526 and Necessary Capital Investment – Being prepared to make the necessary capital investment in a chosen project is imperative to the success of the EB – 5 program. The investment must be $500,000 – $1,000,000 depending on if the project is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Once the funds have been put into an escrow account, an immigration attorney may give proof of the investment by filing an I-526 petition with USCIS. The process of acceptance typically takes anywhere from 12 – 18 months. Should the petition be denied, then the funds will be returned.
- Change of Residency Status– Upon acceptance of a project proposal, an applicant should file for two-year conditional residency so that they will be able to implement their chosen project. Once the I-526 petition has reached approval status by the USCIS, they can move forward with their resident status. This can be done either by filing an I-485 form which would adjust conditional resident status to permanent resident status or by filing for an immigrant visa via a DS – 230 form.
- Submission of the I-829 Petition– In the final step of the process, applicants should submit an I-829 petition to the USCIS at least 90 days before the year date when conditional residency was first granted. By filling out this application, a resident will be able to prove that they have met all of the EB-5 requirements. A green card is typically issued to applicants upon submission of the form, until approval is granted. At this point, the investor and immediate family, including children who are under age 21 are able to permanently live and work in the United States.
Putting It All Together
The EB5 visa program is likely to continue well into the future because it has proven to be successful over the years, with over 300 regional centers now operating, allowing the program to maximize its visa quota. If you are interested in pursuing opportunities for U.S. residency through investment, you need to start by working with people who can put you in touch with U.S. regional centers, provide you with information about investment in different states, and otherwise guide your application process. It’s important to have that kind of support as you navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration process, especially if you are looking to make a solid return on your money while establishing your residency. That’s why we put together this guide to everything you need to know about EB-5 program changes over its history.