The United States EB-5 Visa: the Ultimate Guide

Love it or hate it, the United States of America is one of the most popular destinations in the world. And we don’t just mean for tourists. 

Investors from all over willingly subject themselves to the complex immigration system of this North American country, wait for years to get approved, and then move to the country to get their worldwide income taxed. 

What’s so great about any of that?

Well, those parts aren’t great, but no one can deny the fact that America, in many ways, makes the world go around. 

Its power and wealth make it a place of immense economic opportunity, so foreign investors often choose to ignore the cons of immigrating to the United States and focus on the benefits instead. 

And there are many of those: 

By obtaining a US EB-5 immigrant investor visa, you and your family get to live and work in the United States legally. You can also recoup all of your investment in just four to five years and even apply to get naturalized after five years of being a permanent resident. 

That’s not to mention all of the travel benefits, the quality of living, the economic opportunity… The list truly goes on.

However, you must keep in mind that the EB-5 is different from other residence by investment programs. You’ll need to be much more committed  – you’ll need to have a US home, maintain your permanent resident status, and pay US income taxes as a result. 

Ready to do everything for your chance to live in America? If the country is on your radar to invest in and you have $900,000 available to invest, right this way, please…

The EB-5 visa program could be the right permanent residence program for you. 

In this article, we will unravel the complex program rules, outline the application process, and let you in on all the pros and cons of this visa too.

Why the United States?

We’d wager that since you’re on this page, you already have a keen interest in living and working in the USA – you don’t need any more convincing. 

But if you do, or if you’d like a little reminder, there are so many reasons that the United States is a great place to invest that we will have to limit ourselves to just the top ones. 

The American Quality of Life 

A country as wealthy as America certainly affords many of its citizens and permanent residents an excellent quality of life. 

The American standard of living is desired globally. It probably conjures up images of spacious homes, green lawns, large vehicles, and copious amounts of food in many people’s heads. 

But there’s more to it than that. 

Take healthcare or education for example. Even though they are expensive, many of the best universities in the world and the best hospitals and medical professionals are American. 

If you want to have data to prove it all, the OECD Better Life Index ranks the US 8th in the world on some quality of life measures. That’s above New Zealand and the UK, just in case you were wondering. 

You don’t have to stay in the United States either. As an official US person, being a resident of the United States and all, you can travel to nearly every country in the world visa-free. 

The US passport – while there are certainly some drawbacks – offers some of the best travel perks in the world. And that freedom undoubtedly adds to the quality of your life. 

Endless economic opportunity

You probably know about a little something called the ‘American Dream.’ 

Well, even though it might be an artificial construct, many people in the world still want a slice of it. 

The United States has more Fortune 500 companies than any other country in the world, including most of the world’s tech giants. 

It also has a stock market and a real estate market which are deemed to be some of the best and safest investments available in the world right now.

Little wonder, then, that so many investor immigrants want to call America their home. It’s a huge market with ties to the entire world. 

Of course, no economy is perfect and government debt, as well as poor fiscal health, has made the United States fall in the ranks in the Index of Economic Freedom. It’s now placed 17th. 

And even though COVID-19 has caused an explosion of unemployment, normally it’s a country with endless economic opportunities for those willing to put in the work – or investment money.

The United States EB-5 Visa

US citizenship not your thing? Then how about a residence by investment?

Many of Nomad Capitalist’s clients are Americans and are acutely aware of how they’re taxed on their worldwide income, no matter where in the world they live.

So, many choose to renounce their citizenship and obtain another one in a country that makes more sense to them. 

Then, they try to find ways to still have access to the ‘homeland’ by obtaining an investment visa. Besides the E-2 visa, the EB-5 is the most effective way to do so.

The EB-5 is arguably the easiest and the fastest way to get a green card for themselves and their family. 

However, not always is an EB-5 applicant an American. In fact, from the applicant data, it’s clear that over 85% of all applicants are Chinese nationals.

The other three countries with the most applicants are South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, somewhat surprisingly. Large numbers of people also come from Vietnam, India, Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria. 

Despite the fact that the minimum investment went up from $500,000 to $900,000 just last year, the EB-5 program is still receiving record numbers of applications. 

To date, this visa program has raised over $1.4 billion in EB-5 foreign capital investment. 

A Brief History of the EB-5 Visa

Set up back in 1990 to “create jobs for US workers and infuse capital into the economy”, the EB-5 visa has gone through quite a few changes over the years. 

What’s important to understand here is how it’s been transformed from a very hands-on program that had hard-to-meet requirements to one that is way more investor-friendly.

In 1993, Congress introduced changes to the EB-5 visa that allowed foreign investors to put money into pre-approved regional centers (public or private). These centers would then manage the money instead of the investor and create jobs for him too.

Of course, the regional centers charge administration fees, making millions off large projects in the process.

Still, this was a much more favorable scenario to many investors; it required no active management of a new business. 

And just like that, an entrepreneurial visa became an investor visa. 

But then trouble struck:

In the late 90s, the EB-5 was temporarily suspended due to an elaborate fraud scheme run by Interbank in Virginia that lured hundreds of investors to the United States and left them in limbo for years and with their money all gone. 

A real slump in the numbers applying for an EB-5 visa followed for nearly a decade.

But high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals started showing interest again, beginning in 2008. Just as the Great Recession of 2009 hit, more and more folks wanted to invest and live in the United States.

And so, the EB-5 program was revived, but it was still generating considerably less money than Congress had hoped. So, they started making changes to the program – again.

By 2011, they had nearly quadrupled the number of applications, from 800 in 2007 to 3,800 in 2011. By August of 2014, the government had to stop taking applications because they had reached their annual quota.

The boost was mostly due to wealthy Chinese investors who participated in the EB-5 on behalf of their young adult children, an academic study had found

Most recently, the EB-5 visa program underwent changes once again in 2019. The investment amount was increased from $1 to $1.8 million, and from $500k to $900k in the so-called poor areas in need of development.

The Step-by-Step Application Guide for EB-5 

Step-by-Step EB-5 Visa Application Guide

Like most things in the United States, the EB-5 visa application process is clearly set out but extremely bureaucratic and takes a lot of time and money.

For one reason or another, the immigration officers in the United States seem to believe that their country is the most desirable one to live and work in – in the entire world.

That mindset, and the belief that it’s also up to them to prevent anyone from entering the country (if they can help it), means that there is a highly bureaucratic process to apply for and be approved for a United States EB-5 visa.

It should take you approximately two years to get approved for your permanent residence. After that, you will be able to legally travel to and settle in the US (with your family too). 

Here are the steps you need to take to get to that stage. 

Step 1: Can You Apply for the EB-5 Visa?

Also called pre-qualification, the very first step in the entire EB-5 visa process is to make sure you’re even eligible to apply. 

This must be done to avoid massive delays in fulfilling your investment and immigration strategy, whatever that might be for you as an aspiring Nomad Capitalist. 

So, who can apply for an EB-5 visa? You must: 

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be in good health (i.e. no communicable diseases)
  • Have at least $900,000 to invest
  • Be able to prove the legality of your funds 

If you’re familiar with residence by investment programs, you’ll notice something unusual in the above list. Actually, the lack of a requirement. 

With EB-5, unlike in other countries, you don’t need to have any prior business experience to apply for the EB-5 visa. 

This mostly has to do with the fact that you won’t be expected to run an actual business, whereas in countries like Ukraine, you must register and run a company to receive your permanent residence. 

Since you can invest in a project with managers that will do the ‘boots on the ground’ work for you, all that is required of the foreign investor is that he has the cash. 

No extra money needs to be invested if you want to bring your family with you to the United States. 

A qualifying investor is able to bring a spouse (must be married at the time of conditional or unconditional green card issue, common-law partnership not allowed), as well as unmarried children under the age of 21. 

Children include step-children and adopted children of the investor too, but a parent lineage must be established at the time when the investor gets admitted to the United States conditionally (or at the time when conditions are lifted). 

Step 2: Choose Your Investment

There is actually no real choice involved with your EB-5 investment as to the asset class. The only thing you will be able to choose is which part of the country you would like to invest in and whether you’d like to take a hands-on or a hands-off approach. 

You may invest $900,000 of capital cash in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or the larger sum of $1.8 million outside those TEAs. 

Capital cash is:

  • Liquid cash
  • Equipment
  • Inventory 

Keep in mind that the minimum investment sums get reviewed every five years and get adjusted for inflation. The next review is due in 2024. 

And what is a Targeted Employment Area

A TEA is something that is now designated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services due to the many cases of gerrymandering in the past. Essentially, people were designating TEAs in wealthy areas of the country via various loopholes.

These days, when the government designates a TEA, it must be:

  • A rural area
  • An area that is experiencing high unemployment 

In addition to choosing the sum and the location of your investment, EB-5 applicants also have two ways to go about making their investment:

A. Set up a new commercial enterprise and create 10 full-time jobs.

This option is for those who want to take a hands-on approach to the EB-5 visa. This was the original purpose of this visa, after all. However, not many foreigners choose it if we’re honest with you.

That’s because it’s harder to fulfill the requirement of directly creating 10 full-time jobs than when you choose to invest in a regional center. If you take this route, you must fill 10 actual positions by people other than you or your family members. 

What does this option entail? Well, you’ll need to set up a new for-profit commercial enterprise, which can be a: 

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership (limited or general) 
  • A holding company
  • Joint venture
  • Corporation
  • Business trust
  • Any other entity, privately or publicly owned

The options are pretty varied, so it truly depends on what kind of business you would like to run. 

You can also invest in a troubled business if you wish not to create your own. This might be a good option for the very experienced entrepreneurs and business people who have a track record of turning businesses around.

A troubled business is defined as one that has existed for a minimum of two years and has incurred a net loss (worth at least 20% of the business’ net worth) during the 2 year period before the date you wish to apply for your EB-5 visa. 

Instead of creating 10 new full-time jobs, it will suffice to say that you’re going to help maintain those jobs which would otherwise be gone.

B. Invest in a Regional Center and create 10 full-time jobs.

If you would like to invest $900,000 but don’t want to actively manage a business yourself, then you can opt to invest in a Regional Center. 

It is much easier to fulfill the EB-5 criteria for job creation when you invest this way because, while those who opt for the first option must directly create 10 full-time jobs, indirect positions are also counted if you invest in a Regional Center. 

For example, the indirect jobs that are outside of the commercial enterprise but which have been created as a result of the new enterprise also count. For instance, the construction work of a big hotel project. 

But what is a Regional Center, exactly? 

It’s a private or a state entity that has applied and been confirmed as being in need of capital to improve the economic condition of the United States and add new jobs or save already existing ones.

Some of the projects that are financed using EB-5 include residential developments, plenty of luxury hotels (like Hyatt and Hilton), and even infrastructure projects such as the recently completed I-95-Pennsylvania Turnpike highway. 

However, keep in mind, that even though the USCIS keeps a list of Regional Centers, they by no means endorse them. 

All investments are made at your own risk, so check that you’re investing in a reputable Regional Center.

You should always do your own due diligence or, better yet, consult a professional. We can help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to EB-5 Regional Centers. 

Step 3: File Form I-526

The so-called Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor is the first of multiple forms that you will have to fill out and submit to apply for the EB-5 visa.

The cost of the I-526 form is $3,675 and it’s the so-called initial application for your conditional green card. Each of your family members will have to file their own application. 

It takes approximately one and a half to two years to get your application approved. In the meantime, you can pursue other means of getting access to the US if you wish.

Too long?

You can ask the government officials to expedite it, but it’s only done in truly extraordinary circumstances.

If you would suffer a severe financial loss to yourself or a company, you may apply to get your EB-5 application expedited, but only if you’ve not delayed applying on time yourself, or failed to respond to requests for additional evidence. 

Here are the documents you need to submit as evidence alongside your I-526 form: 

  • Proof you’ve made the investment.
  • Proof you’ve acquired the money for the investment through legal means. 
  • Proof you’ve invested in an officially designated TEA if investing the smaller sum.
  • Proof you’ve directly (or indirectly if investing in a Regional Center) created or will create at least 10 full-time jobs (within two years).

Note: since the documents can be all sorts of things, from bank statements to company registration documents, only an experienced immigration attorney can help you prepare your I-526 form. 

You will be sent a confirmation once the application is received. And after it is processed (within two years’ time) your conditional green card will be issued, allowing you to move to the United States. 

You must remain in the country for at least 180 days each year if you would like to receive your unconditional green card and eventually apply for US citizenship. 

If your I-526 application has been rejected, you can file for an appeal.

Step 4: File Form I-829 – Lift Your Green Card Conditions 

After two years of living in the United States, your conditional green card will expire and you will need to extend your stay in the country somehow. Since conditional green cards cannot be renewed, you will need to file Form I-829 to obtain an unconditional green card instead.

You may apply for your permanent resident status within 90 days of the expiration of your conditional green card, ideally from within the United States as you’ll need to submit your biometrics once more. 

Don’t miss the deadline, or you’ll become removable from the United States!

You’ll need the following documents to file: 

  • Proof that you’ve made and kept your required investment (invoices, bank receipts, state income tax returns, or other documents).
  • Proof that you’ve met the job creation requirements in full (payroll records, or other documents).

Remember that all family members will need to file separately ($3,750 fee per individual). 

An interesting thing to note here is that if your dependent children turned 21 following the issuance of your conditional green card to your permanent one, they may still apply for permanent residence.

Also, if you divorce your spouse, he or she is still eligible for permanent residence too.

Everyone’s unconditional green card is valid for 10 years but can be renewed as many times as you would like. 

In essence, you can spend your entire life in the US, as long as you keep on fulfilling the green card conditions such as living in the country for at least 180 days each year

Step 5: Recoup Your Investment

Once you’re set with your unconditional and permanent green card, you may withdraw your investment. 

This means that you will get the $900,000 you’ve invested back. If you’ve invested in a Regional Center, you will get most of your investment back; they charge administration fees that they use to run the entity.

You and any family members of yours who are in possession of an unconditional green card may then remain in the United States indefinitely. 

Alternatives to the EB-5 Visa

EB-2 for Professionals and Persons with Exceptional Abilities

Professionals such as professors, doctors, scientists and even athletes from other countries can qualify for the US EB-2 visa instead of the EB-5.

The United States has an extensive list of temporary and permanent residence visas, schemes, and programs. 

In fact, it’s quite convoluted and in many cases, you actually need to work with an immigration attorney to unravel it all.

However, we’re able to give you a quick run-down of all of the permanent residence visa programs that can be deemed as alternatives to the EB-5 visa. 

So, if for whatever reason you’re not eligible for the EB-5 visa, there is always some other option that you could go for instead. 

EB-1 for Priority Workers

This visa is geared towards ‘first preference’ workers, i.e. highly skilled people, who work in the fields of:

  • The arts.
  • Science.
  • Business (multinational managers and executives getting transferred to the United States for a company they currently work for will apply for EB-1 visas)
  • Education (including professors and researchers with at least three years of experience; must have a higher education sponsor).
  • Athletics.

Your ‘extraordinary ability’ is judged by being at least nationally, but ideally internationally, recognized for your achievements in your field.

If you think you fit these criteria, you can apply and receive your EB-1 visa within two years. 

EB-2 for Professionals and Persons with Exceptional Abilities

For this visa to apply to you, you must have an active job offer in the United States. 

Two categories of people fall under this category: 

A professional holding an advanced degree. Master’s, Ph.D., a professional degree, or at least five years of professional training in your industry.

A person with ‘exceptional abilities.’ This is someone who can demonstrate a substantial level of expertise in their respective field.

You will need to apply for a job remotely and get an offer presented to you, but there are some ways around this too.

For example, the Physician National Interest Waiver program makes it possible for foreign medical professionals to immigrate to the US if they will then work in an under-served area of the United States for at least five years. 

For most applicants of the EB-2 program, the green card will be available immediately after the approval of your application. But, due to the large numbers of applicants from India and China, there is a waiting list for these nationalities – expect to wait three to ten years to receive your American permanent residence. 

EB-3 for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

This seems to be a catch-all visa, so if you don’t fit the criteria of the two visas mentioned above, you’ll most likely find yourself applying for an EB-3. 

Similarly to EB-2, you will need employer sponsorship to obtain residence.

Which workers qualify? Here is a non-exhaustive list to give you a rough idea:

Workers whose positions require 2+ years of training or experience

Professionals whose position requires at least a Bachelor’s degree

Unskilled workers

Needless to say, the United States government favors skilled workers. And since there is a quota of 40,000 EB-3 visas issued annually, the higher up the ‘food chain’ you are, the better. 

There are delays in processing EB-3 applications for up to 10 years for Indians, and three to four years for skilled workers from China. Applicants from the Philippines will also need to wait approximately one year. 

Obtaining American Citizenship

A goal of many but not all investors who apply for the EB-5 visa is to obtain American citizenship. And it’s certainly a possibility to get naturalized. 

After just four years and nine months, which is a pretty short time when compared to other permanent residence programs in the world, a foreign investor is eligible to apply for citizenship in America.

Of those years, you must have spent at least 30 months in the United States. 

Family members may qualify too, as long as all of the other naturalization requirements are met.

One must:  

  • Be a permanent resident
  • Have a good moral character
  • Be proficient in basic English
  • Pass a US History and Government exam
  • Register for military service (males of a certain age)
  • Swear allegiance to the United States

After you obtain your American passport, you might be entitled to keep your first citizenship. While the United States permits dual citizenship, the country of your original citizenship might not – you’ll have to check it out. 

Not sure if you should go for citizenship? There are only a few differences between permanent residency and citizenship. 

The added benefits of having citizenship are:

  • You can vote in the elections
  • You’re entitled to all public benefits
  • You can hold public office
  • You can travel outside of the country indefinitely 

Are these extra perks worth your while to become a citizen? We recommend getting some professional advice here.

The Pros and Cons of the United States EB-5 Visa 

Pros and Cons of US EB-5 Visa

When you sign up for residence in the United States, you not only get the benefits of investing in the US market and living in America but all the drawbacks of being a US person too.

While we think that the EB-5 visa program is great for some foreign investors, it will most definitely not be the right way forward for everyone. 

As a great first step in determining whether you would like to take the EB-5 visa further, evaluate the following pros and cons.

The Pros

Permanent residence in the United States. This is obviously the main perk of this visa. While other American visas give one a chance to do business in the United States, the EB-5 visa gives you, and your entire family, a chance to legally reside in the land of the ‘American dream.’

It’s pretty speedy. Sure, when compared to residence programs in Europe where you can get a permit issued in just a few months, the EB-5 visa seems to take an eternity – just under two years is as fast as it’s going to get. However, in the grand scheme of things and especially taking in the prestigiousness of the country for foreign investors, that’s a pretty short amount of time. 

It’s predictable too. Unlike other visa programs where there is an element of surprise (lottery), the EB-5 visa is straightforward. Plus, there is no sponsorship that you will need to secure from an employer or a family member to be approved for EB-5. 

Bring your family. Your spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21 can come to the United States with you. They will each go through the filing of the application forms individually, which is great news because even if you leave, your kids can stay in their respective educational institutions if desired. 

Recoupable investment. We know that nearly a million dollars isn’t exactly cheap, but when you think that you will be able to recoup the investment in full after four to five years, it should make you feel that much better. 

The Cons

Large upfront investment. The amount that you’ll need to invest for just a residence is huge when compared to some of the other residence by investment programs out there. Of course, the United States can charge a premium because it does offer a lot in return. 

There is a waiting list for certain nationalities. While most foreign investors won’t have to wait around for longer than necessary, Indians, Chinese and Vietnamese face seriously long waits. 

There is an annual quota. Similarly, there is an annual quota of 10,000 visas issued annually. Since dependents are also counted, space fills up pretty quickly.  

Physical residence required. The United States requires that you spend at least 180 days per year in the country to maintain your resident status. 

Taxed on worldwide income. No matter where you are in the world as a US tax resident (which you’ll have to be if you want to retain your permanent resident status), you will be taxed on your worldwide income. This helps the government to get even more money from you. 

Fraud and risk. As we mentioned throughout the article, there have been many cases of fraud and even money laundering associated with the EB-5 program. It doesn’t exactly have a spotless reputation and there are always swindlers out there to get your money and leave you empty-handed. Let’s talk about it in more detail below. 

Fraud and Corruption Under the EB-5 Visa

Most citizenship by investment and residence by investment programs regularly come under fire – no surprise there.

The EB-5 visa program is no different. 

In fact, some of its harshest critics have even said that it’s a program that has “long been riddled with corruption and national security vulnerabilities” (Senator Charles E. Grassley). 

SEC (US Securities and Exchange Commission), the organization that oversees the EB-5 visa program, has kept a watchful eye over it throughout the years. 

Alarmingly, it has uncovered several major cases of fraud in the past years: 

  • SEC filed fraud charges against Lobsang Dargey who took advantage of Chinese investors to the tune of $136 million via his company called Path America (2016).
  • Investigators uncovered multiple cases of fraud committed by individuals with ties to Chinese and Iranian intelligence, using fake documents (2016). 
  • SEC’s investigators also uncovered that international fugitives have laundered money via the EB-5 program (2016).
  • Vermont’s Jay Peak Ski Resort owners misappropriated $350,000 in funds from EB-5 visa applicants, and investors lost all of their money (2016). 

This is certainly not a definitive list.

Recently, regulation has become more stringent as a result. Due to the fraud that the program experiences, the government organizations tasked with administering and supervising the program now conduct audits and even site visits for projects to make sure everything is running legally. 

And even though the EB-5 visa program was reformed, the job creation aspect was introduced, and the minimum investment thresholds have been upped significantly, there is no doubt that the program is still far from perfect. 

If you’re doing nothing illegal and simply want to gain a way to reside in the United States legally, you have very little to worry about. 

That said, as in the last case on our list, investors are at risk of losing capital if they invest in fraudulent projects. 

The best way to avoid that? Consult a professional team that knows the ins and outs of the EB-5 program – give us a call

United States EB-5 Visa – FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the EB-5 Visa program that’s run by the United States.

Feel free to drop us a comment below if you have a question that we haven’t covered in this section, or in the article in general.

Is there a waiting list for the EB-5 visa? 

For most nationalities, there is no waiting list at the moment. However, that can change on short notice. That said, investors from Vietnam, India, and China have extensive waiting lists and are advised to apply for different visas instead. 

What are the EB-5 visa requirements?

You must invest at least $900,000 in a business and create at least 10 jobs that must employ US citizens or legal permanent residents. 

Is there a quota for Green Cards that are issued to investors under the EB-5 visa program? 

Yes. Every year, the government issues 10,000 visas to foreign investors. 

Can I apply for the EB-5 visa by myself?

Theoretically, you can, but it’s such a bureaucratic tangle that we would strongly recommend you don’t. Not only can it have a negative impact on your financial situation but you can also experience delays or even a rejection of your visa. It’s best to leave it to professionals to put together packs of documentation, aid you in selecting an investment project, and fill out the application itself. 

Must I speak English to apply for an EB-5 visa? 

No. Investors from all over the world can apply and don’t need to speak English to get approved. If you don’t, then it’s essential to hire professional help to aid you in filling out the application for the EB-5 visa. 

Do I need a sponsor to apply for permanent residence in the United States under EB-5 visa?

No, an EB-5 investor doesn’t need a sponsor to apply and obtain a green card. 

Is there a good health requirement as part of the application process?

Yes, one of the eligibility requirements for all EB-5 investors is that you must be in good health. You must prove that you don’t have any infectious diseases and that you have all of the required vaccination prior to applying. 

What is the difference between the conditional card and the permanent one? 

An EB-5 investor will first receive a conditional green card that will expire in two years and it cannot be renewed. You can then apply for an unconditional one that will be valid for 10 years and can be renewed as many times as you need. 

Can I apply for an EB-5 visa if I was rejected for another visa in the past?

Generally, yes. You can apply for an EB-5 visa even if you’ve been rejected for another visa once or multiple times in the past. The only thing that would disqualify you from applying is if you were found to be taking part in immigration fraud. 

Can my family come to the United States with me under the EB-5 visa?

A partner that you are legally married to at the time of your admission to the United States, either with a conditional green card or an unconditional card two years later, can join you in living in the United States. In the same line, unmarried children under the age of 21 can also come and live in the country with you as a foreign investor. 

How long does the initial application (form I-526) take? 

We can’t say that you’ll for sure fit into this time frame, but it takes approximately 15-18 months for foreign investors to get approved for their conditional Green Card. After that, they can move to the United States legally. 

How long does the removal of conditions on a green card take (form I-829)? 

It takes 24 months for the government officials to adjudicate this petition. Your investor status is valid for as long as your form is getting processed. 

Who is eligible to apply for EB-5?

Among the usual requirements of being an adult in good health and with no criminal record, you must be able to prove that your funds have come from a legal source. That is one of the main eligibility criteria. All applicants will also go through background checks and submit their biometric information to be run through various databases. 

When should I file the I-829 form? 

As your conditional Green Card is about to expire (within 90 days), you or your immigration lawyer will file the I-829 form. This needs to be one for the main investor as well as any family members, if applicable. 

Do I need to make an investment first and get residence second?

Yes. You will need to make the entire investment before you fill out the I-526 application. This means that you will need to invest the money and only then will you be considered for your residence status in the United States. 

How will I need to submit the money that I want to invest?

You will need to set up an escrow account and wire the money to it. You will then get a receipt that your investment has been made; submit the receipt with your I-526 application. 

Where can the money used for the investment come from?
It needs to be money that you’ve sourced legally and have paid all tax on through lawful business, salary (even if it’s in the US), investment, sale of real estate, inheritance, or a loan. The money can even be gifted to you by a parent or a relative, in which case you’ll need to trace it back to its lawful origin. 

Will I be able to get my EB-5 visa investment back?

Yes. The EB-5 visa program is great in that you’re able to get all of the money that you’ve invested back once the project that you’ve invested in is completed successfully. Based on our past clients, we estimate that it will take about four to five years to recoup your original investment. 

Must I live in the United States under an EB-5 visa? 

Yes. Once you receive your conditional permanent resident status, you will be expected to spend at least 180 days in the United States each year. There are some exceptions that one can apply for, such as medical emergency or a study period abroad. Spending this long in the country will make you a tax resident of the United States.

Is my worldwide income taxed if I’m a United States resident?

Yes. The United States is one of the few countries that tax your worldwide income no matter where you live. However, that usually doesn’t mean that you’ll be taxed twice because the US has double taxation agreements with many countries. 

Will I be able to get US citizenship if I apply for an EB-5 visa?

Eventually, yes. You can apply for and receive your US citizenship as soon as you become eligible, which is after four years and nine months of holding your residency. You will need to meet all of the other naturalization requirements too. 

Conclusion

The land of the free, the United States is a country that many Nomad Capitalists shun. But for some investors out there, it presents an unparalleled opportunity.

The EB-5 visa is a gateway for thousands of foreign investors every year who put money into the United States and get a chance to live there in return. 

And just like any other residence by investment program in the world, it has its pros and cons. It’s up to you to evaluate those by yourself, at least initially. 

But what you can’t consider yourself is the nuance of the US immigration system. It’s highly complex and harbors decades’ worth of legislation that investors have to comply with.

In this article, we’ve only scratched the surface of all the rules, regulations, and exceptions.

If you want to do the EB-5 ‘for real,’ you’re going to need help.

We can assess your personal and financial situation and goals – whether that’s a second passport, a low tax rate, or investment – and determine whether the EB-5 visa would make sense for you.

Not just make sense, actually, but be a viable visa route to get your application approved. 

Get in touch with the Nomad Capitalist team to take control of your life and go where you’re treated best. 

Jovana Vojinovic
Last updated: Dec 5, 2020 at 8:27PM

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