EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program – Questions & Answers
What is the EB-5 program?
This immigration program was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation by immigrant investors. There are 10,000 EB-5 immigrant visas available every year. One EB-5 family with husband, wife, and two children will use four visas.
Who can apply for EB-5?
Investors from all countries are eligible to apply for the EB-5 program if they can demonstrate their money was earned legally and they do not have any disease or crime that prohibits them from getting permanent resident status in the U.S.
How much money must I invest?
The minimum investment is $1,000,000 USD. If the project is located in a rural area or in a high unemployment area called Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the minimum investment is $500,000. To receive TEA designation, the area must have 1.5% the U.S. unemployment rate. Effective November 21, 2019. The minim TEA investment will be $900,000. The minimum non-TEA investment will be $1,800,000.
What are the steps to doing an EB-5 investment green card?
- The investor must sign a retainer agreement with Garmo & Garmo LLP.
- The investor must decide whether he/she wants to start a new business, take over troubled business or invest in a regional center.
- If the investor wishes to invest in a regional center, he/she must study the options and decide on which regional center to invest.
- The investor must show source of funds of the money being invested.
- Our office files the I-526 Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur along with all supporting documents.
- Once the I-526 is approved, the investor and his family will be processed for a green card. If the investor and his family are outside of the U.S., we will help them with visa processing through the U.S. Embassy in their home country. If the investor and his family are in the U.S., we can help them file for adjustment of status.
What are my options to invest?
There are three ways to invest:
- Start a new business. Examples: Open a restaurant or supermarket or build a hotel
- Take over a troubled business that is showing a net loss of 20% for the past two years.
- Invest in a regional center. A regional center is a project that has been approved by the U.S. Government to accept EB-5 investors.
How many jobs must my project create?
Whether you are starting your own business, taking over a troubled business or investing in a regional center, you or the regional center must create or save 10 full time jobs, not including you, your wife, or children.
Must I be involved in running the business?
Active involvement in day-to-day business matters is usually required when starting a new business or taking over a troubled one (hiring managers to help you run the business is permitted.)
Active involvement is NOT required when choosing to invest in a regional center as you are usually a silent or passive member of the entity which controls the project.
How many Regional Centers are there?
As of September 9, 2019, there were 822 approved Regional Centers through the USA.
For the most updated list of regional centers. See link: : https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers
Are there any risks involved in investing in the EB-5 program?
Yes! As with all investments, there is a risk of loss of the entire sum of investment. The investor is strongly advised to seek professional advice from real estate brokers, accountants, bankers, and other professionals to evaluate each project.
What are some factors to evaluate in deciding which regional center to invest in?
Prior to investing in a regional center, you should retain professionals to help you evaluate the regional center. Some risk factors include:
- Is the regional center private, public, or a combination of both?
- Does the regional center own the land where the project is located or is it on leased land?
- What percentage of capital does the EB-5 money represent in the total project costs?
- Does the regional center have all the funding necessary to complete the project?
- Does the regional center have good managers with prior experience in developing such projects?
- Does the regional center business plan show sufficient job creation?
(There are many more factors to consider)
What documents do I need to show to source my funds?
The investor must demonstrate that all money invested in the EB-5 program comes from a legal source(s). The following documents are typically required to be shown: tax returns, bank accounts, proof of ownership of real estate or business, bill of sale, resume, letters of employment, declarations, proof of gift or inheritance, and any other supporting documents.
Can the investment money be gifted or inherited to me?
Yes, as long as it can be proven that the grantor obtained the money legally.
How long does the EB-5 process take?
The entire process from beginning to end takes about six to seven years. However, citizens of China and Vietnam have additional waiting period due to high number of people applying from those countries. The timelines are subject to change depending on U.S. immigration backlogs. For the most up-to-date processing times see: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
Here are the general steps and estimated timelines:
|Gather all of investor’s source of funds documents, identity documents, and transfer of money for the investment and file the I-526 petition.
|1 to 2 months
|Receive decision on I-526 (EB-5).
|24 – 48 months
|Visa processing or Adjustment of status.
Investor and family receive two-year conditional green card.
|90 days before the conditional green card expires, we file form I-829 petition.
If I-829 is approved, investor and family members receive permanent green card.
|29 – 49 months
|Total EB-5 processing time.
|6 to 7 years
When will I get my investment money back?
The regional center cannot promise or guarantee your money back. If they do, the U.S. government will reject the petition as a pure loan and not an investment. If the regional center is successful in the project, you can expect to get your money back in about six to seven years, when they are able to complete the project in the following ways:
- The investor can sell his interest in the open market or to the company for fair market value.
- The regional center could sell their business and pay all investors back.
- The regional center could refinance the project to borrow money from the bank and pay off investors.
Are there any U.S. tax consequences to becoming a permanent resident of the U.S.?
Yes! All permanent residents of the U.S. are required to pay income taxes on their world-wide income. You should consult with a tax professional before applying for EB-5 to develop tax saving strategies.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. once my conditional permanent residence is granted?
Yes! Once you receive your green card, you can travel in and outside of the U.S. The green card holder needs to maintain a residence in the U.S. Foreign travel should not exceed one year unless the green card holder receives a re-entry permit.
Can my family immigrate with me?
Yes, spouses and children under 21 of the Applicant can enter the U.S. as immigrants.
How do I get started?
As soon as the investor is ready to proceed, we will send him/her a retainer agreement and a list of documents we will need to help in proving source of funds. The investor can pick a regional center and we can file the I-526 EB-5 petition within 30 to 60 days.
Feel free to call me should you have any further questions.