Your Guide to EB5 Investor Visa
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Gaining a lawful status to live and work in the United States is not a cinch. Well, so to say, neither is it a very grueling task. All you need is a guide to get acquainted with the ways and procedures to obtain a U.S green card.
One of the best routes to acquiring it is the EB5 Investor Visa in USA.
Some of you might already be acquainted with the term, but for some, it is novel. We are sure by now your mind must have become a pool of questions and confusion.
So, before these million questions start troubling you, let’s begin with what it really is about.
What You Will Find in This Article
- EB5 Investor Visa USA
- Eligibility for EB5 Investor Visa to USA
- Benefits of the EB5 Investor Visa in USA
- Latest Visa EB5 USA Rules in 2022
- EB5 Scheme Application Timeline
- Investor Visa to USA Due Diligence
- Tax Consequences of Residency in the US
- Dual Citizenship in the US
- Visa-free Destinations with the US Passport
- Alternatives to US Residency by Investment
EB5 Investor Visa USA
The EB5 or the EB5 Investor Visa Program was created in 1990 to allow qualifying foreign investors to become legal permanent residents of the United States. In simplified terms, you can secure your green card if you invest in a U.S. business. The program was initiated by the United States Congress and is currently run by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The key motive for launching this program was to expedite increased investment in the U.S. economy.
To get an EB5 visa, you must invest at least $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area to finance a business that employs at least 10 American workers.
Besides, you have the freedom to choose whether he wants to invest individually or want to work through a wider investor pool via regional centers (RC). These regional centers are federally approved parties that help foreign investors to connect with developers who require funding to establish their business.
As of the 2022 regulation, you have to invest a minimum amount of $1,05 million to secure 10 jobs for US workers. These 10 workers do not include the investor and their immediate family members. Moreover, under this regulation, USCIS set new guidelines and declared that no state could assign regional centers. This office was handed over to the Department of Homeland Security.
Some of the most flourishing businesses financed by EB5 visa investment are Hilton, Hyatt Hotels, Marriott’s, Starwood’s SLS Hotel & Casino.
Another successful infrastructure project is the I-95/Pennsylvania Turnpike connector, the longest north-south route in the Interstate Highway System.
Investing is the best route to secure your USA residency. So, let’s see who can apply for it and how.
Eligibility for EB5 Investment Visa to the USA
EB5 is an investor’s green card. To apply for it, the individual has to satisfy the following eligibility criteria.
- Invest $1.05 million in a qualifying commercial enterprise, or
- A minimum investment of $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) with the promise of creating at least 10 full-time jobs for US citizens within 2 years;
- The investment must benefit the US economy by providing goods or services to domestic markets.
But first, go through this list of things that you do not require to apply for an EB5 Visa.
- The applicant doesn’t need to have a job offer lined up or a labor certification.
- It’s not necessary to reveal your net worth.
- You don’t need to be highly involved during the process, unlike E2 Treaty Investor Visa Program which requires you to run the business.
Details About the EB 5 Investment
- The investment must be sourced through legal means and must not be borrowed.
- You can invest in the form of cash or cash equivalents like certificates of deposit and treasury bonds.
- Moreover, it can also be done through an inventory or other tangible property secured as an asset by the individual.
Documents Required for EB5 Application
- Partnership agreement and organizational documents
- Business license
- Proof that the expected amount of capital has been transferred
- Evidence of source of investment
- A statement of position or title and a description of duties
- Detailed Business Plan
Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur: The EB5 investors need an approved I-526 petition stating that they have started the U.S. business investment process.
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We work with clients from all around the world, interested in obtaining US residency visas and Green Cards.
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Benefits of the EB5 Investment Visa to USA
Once your petition has been approved, your spouse and minor children (unmarried and under 21) can also apply for an immigrant visa. EB5 investor visa USA offers a lot of benefits to you and your family. Once you obtain it, you can access the U.S. education system. Moreover, you have the right to live, retire, work, and study anywhere in the country.
Below are enlisted some of the key benefits of the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program.
Access to Social Security
As you stay and work in the USA, you also pay taxes, which makes you eligible for social security credits. However, to qualify for these services, you have to work in the U.S. for a minimum of ten years. Moreover, these benefits include retirement payments, disability benefits, and survivors’ benefits.
Furthermore, a necessary eligibility criterion is to have an SSN. An individual can apply for a Social Security Number once you get the EB5 visa. In fact, you can also request it while filling out the visa application. If you didn’t apply during the visa process, you can go to a Social Security Office and apply for it there. You will receive your SSN via mail at your US mailing address within a few days of applying.
Access to Medicare
Once you receive your EB5 Visa or the Investor Visa USA, you become a lawful permanent resident. Hence, you get access to USA medicare. However, it is intended for people over the age of 65 or people with certain qualifying disabilities. Besides, you must have paid the Medicare taxes for at least 40 quarters.
There are different types of Medicare,
- Part A includes major procedures like hospitalizations or surgeries.
- Part B covers visits to the doctor’s office, lab work, X-rays, etc.
- Part C entails some facilities from parts A and B along with additional coverage like the vision, dental, etc.
- Part D includes prescription medication.
If you have worked 40 credit hours, you are not required to pay for Medicare Part A. However, you have to pay for Medicare parts B, C, and D.
Furthermore, you can register for Medicaid, a health coverage program for low-income individuals, elderly persons, and disabled persons. Under this investor visa USA, two types of services are provided, Emergency Medicaid and Full-Scope Medicaid.
After two years of overseeing their investment in the EB5 Investor Visa USA, the investor can apply for full permanent residency by filing the I-829 application. If it gets approved, you, your spouse, and the children can work and live in the USA permanently. Moreover, you also have the option to obtain U.S. citizenship.
Not to mention, you will also have to file income tax returns with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Access to World-Class Education System
International children can reap the benefits of the US education system through the EB-5 visa program. Moreover, you may be able to attend colleges and universities at lower tuition rates as are available to United States residents.
Child Care Services
Acquiring an EB5 visa lets you avail the of child care services. In fact, it also makes you eligible for foster care and adoption assistance. For instance, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is excellent for children who do not qualify for Medicaid. These children are the ones whose parents’ income is either too high for this program but low to get private health insurance.
For further reading, please check out our article on Green Card VS Citizenship.
Green Card Through EB5 Visa
An EB5 visa is a great option for anyone looking to get a green card and permanent residency in the United States by investing in the country.
You immediately get your immigrant visa as an EB5 investor if you’re living in the US. For this, you also need to meet certain other requirements, such as:
- Filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country
- Filing your Form I-485 only if USCIS has approved your Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
Latest Visa EB5 USA Rules in 2022
The latest EB5 regulations and legislation were set by the Department of Homeland Security on March 22.
- Amount of Investment: Under the new set of rules, the minimum investment amount in a TEA has been lowered to $800,000, and that for a non-TEA is set at $1,05 million.
- Retain Priority Date: An investor who already has an approved I-526 Petition is allowed to retain a priority date on one condition that the petition wasn’t approved by fraud means. To exemplify, suppose a change occurs in the applicable regional center or new commercial enterprise, and the petition has already been approved. In such a case, the applicant can retain the date but file a new I-526 Petition based on the latest facts.
Note: This is not applicable for immigrants who received visas through I-485.
If you thought that to obtain a green card, you just need to follow the laws and meet the program’s requirements, you are wrong! As per the latest EB5 rules, the residency requirement can be difficult for investors who often travel outside the United States. According to the law, an individual cannot stay outside the country for 180 days or more consecutively.
In case you have to travel after every six months, here are some requirements for the same.
- Get a social security number (SNN)
- Rent or sublease an apartment under your name
- Open your bank account.
- Get a US credit card and use it for shopping, travel, etc.
- Get a driving license.
- Become a member of some library or any club (for instance, a professional club in your area of expertise)
- File Tax Returns regularly (if applicable)
Just in case you fail to meet these requirements, you can try other legitimate ways in the USCIS process and apply for a re-entry permit. That, however, has a different but simple procedure.
- Designation of Target Employment Area: Specially designated high employment TEAs will now include tracts that have experienced at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate. Besides, the DHS will be responsible for assigning these designations to eliminate the current practice of a state designating certain areas.
- DHS has excluded all references to “management” of the new commercial enterprise for the reason that investors with customary rights under standard limited partnership agreements shall meet the EB-5 Program requirement
EB5 Investor Visa to USA Application Timeline
The first step toward the EB-5 visa processing timeline is to file an I-526 Petition. The estimated processing time of the same is 35 months to 52.5 months. Moreover, the process duration varies from one country to another due to the applicant’s country of birth. This happens because every nation has a unique limitation on the number of visas that have to be granted per fiscal year.
Now there might be two possible situations when the applicant receives the visa number.
- The applicant is outside the USA: In this case, he has to file a DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application at the National Visa Center in their country. After that, the applicant has to attend a visa interview at their local Consulate or Embassy. Thereafter, he is eligible to enter the U.S. on an EB-5 visa. The process may take 9-12 months.
- The applicant is inside the USA: Now, he has to file an I-485 form, which is an application to Register Permanent Residence. Once the application has been approved, he will receive a conditional green card. The process may take 6-9 months.
Furthermore, when an individual completes 21 months after receiving the green card, he becomes eligible to file the I-829 form. This is a petition to remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, and the process takes 33 to 54 months to complete. If the petition is approved, you will soon get your unconditional green card.
How To Apply for an EB5 Visa
The route to EB5 Visa starts with making your investment. After your investment has been completed, here are the following steps:
- You make your application to the USCIS using Form I-526. This form is also referred as the “Investment Visa application form”.
- Your application is reviewed by the USCIS. After the review is complete, it’s sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
- You’ll be contacted by the NVC and requested to pay the appropriate fees and submit the necessary papers. The NVC will give you instructions on where and how to pay the fee.
- You apply for an immigrant visa and go to the US Embassy for your interview. The NVC will notify you of the location and time of the interview, as well as the documents you should bring.
- The US Embassy will issue your Immigrant Investor Visa if everything goes as planned.
- If you are already in the United States, instead of applying at a US Embassy, you must petition for adjustment of status (Form I-485) with the USCIS.
The Due Diligence
When it comes to investing in a business securely, Due Diligence has to be in practice. But how can we use due diligence in EB5 or Investor visa USA?
We will come to that later. First, let’s understand what due diligence actually is.
Due diligence is a documented investigation, audit, or review shown to authenticate the facts of a matter under consideration. In the business world, it is essential to examine the financial records before entering into a proposed transaction with another party.
This term became famous after the US government passed the Securities Act of 1933. Since then, it has become compulsory for dealers and brokers to break every business or product information. If they refuse to do so, they will be liable for criminal prosecution.
So, how important is Due Diligence for the EB5 investors?
Not to mention, EB5 investors are mostly experienced businessmen and are aware of how due diligence works in their respective fields. However, some of them get stuck in this during the EB5 investing process.
Below are some factors that the investors must consider while conducting due diligence.
The first step is to analyze the regional center, including its record of success and ability to manage a project that can provide a return on the investment amount. Moreover, make sure to check the following points.
- Has the regional center previously aided successful visa petitions?
Check whether the center is able to provide information about the previously successful visa petitions. If a visa has been denied, the center must provide the legitimate reason for the denial and what practices have been in effect to prevent such issues in the future.
- For how long has the regional center been under operation?
An investor must see whether the USCIS designated the center and how many projects have been conducted there. An area that has experienced projects and funds in the EB5 is more likely to focus on the visa petition adjudicators and deal with any issues that arise during the project.
- Is the project approved by USCIS?
The first visa petition associated with an EB5 investor visa USA project constitutes an additional level of USCIS review. It checks the business plan and economic impact report for the project. Investors are likely to earn more profit if the project has been approved in the initial USCIS review.
- Can the project account for the required number of jobs?
An investor has to prove that his investment has resulted in the full-time job creation for 10 American people. Therefore, investors must carefully evaluate the project documentation to ensure that it can fulfill this requirement. If multiple investors are investing in a project, then the regional center has to ensure that each investor is credited with the accurate number of jobs.
Furthermore, a financial advisor can help to guard an investor against fraud or misinterpretation while conducting their due diligence.
Moreover, while conducting due diligence in regional centers or projects, investors have the privilege of making informed investment decisions and increasing their chances to get a successful visa petition.
Tax Consequences of Residency in the US
Once you become a lawful permanent resident after obtaining the EB5 visa, you become liable to pay taxes to the US government just like any other resident. There is no tax distinction between the green-card holders and U.S. residents.
Tax residents also generally report tax payments, including withholding, using the same rules as U.S. citizens. Moreover, tax residents may claim a foreign tax credit for the income tax paid or owed to a foreign nation on a foreign income source to avoid double taxation.
Residency and US Estate Taxes
If you have received a US green card by investment, you have to pay an estate tax as high as 46 percent on your worldwide income. Moreover, an individual is also subject to gift tax obligations. It has to be in accordance with the requirements of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), like the FBAR, 8938, 5471, and other documents.
If the tax planning has been improper, whether on purpose or intentionally, it may lead you to specific penalties and other taxes.
Besides, you might need to engage with accountants and attorneys in the U.S. as well as in your home country to organize and design to minimize the tax impact effectively.
Furthermore, depending on how the EB5 investment has been polished, the non-resident alien must pay taxes. The taxes may be deducted from the investor’s income, and he has to file a U.S. tax return.
According to the US tax withholding rules, the IRS requires the partnership to withhold tax at a maximum rate of 37% for 2019.
Dual Citizenship in the US
Having Dual citizenship or Dual Nationality means you can become a citizen of two different countries simultaneously. Moreover, you also get to share the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in both countries.
Dual citizenship is not allowed by every country, and rules vary for each of them.
Now, talking about the USA. The United States government also allows dual citizenship. Moreover, a U.S. resident may obtain citizenship in a foreign state without any risk to their U.S. citizenship. However, a person above 18 may also relinquish his US citizenship after acquiring a foreign nationality if they wish to.
Furthermore, dual nationals are required to obey the United States and the foreign country’s laws. Moreover, the US nationals will have to enter and leave the country using a US passport only, and the same applies to the foreign country.
Visa-free Destinations with the US Passport
As the US passport is one of the most powerful documents in the world, it allows you to travel visa-free to many countries. For instance, you can travel to most European, Caribbean, and Central and South American countries.
Besides, US citizens can travel to 184 countries and territories without requiring a travel visa or with a visa on arrival. Moreover, 28 countries that are European Union members allow US residents to travel there.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can travel wherever you want to go and for as long as you wish. This varies from country to country. Therefore, you must plan your trip considering the local immigration rules and regulations, especially if you want to stay for an extended period.
Alternatives to US Residency by Investment
Just like the USA, several countries like Malta, Portugal, Spain, and Greece have launched residency programs for investors. Let’s have a look at how one can obtain residency in these countries as an alternative to an investment visa to USA.
Malta Citizenship by Investment
The Maltese Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment (MEIN) The investor has to make a minimum investment of €600,000 to the country’s development fund set up by the government. Moreover, an individual has to prove that he has resided in the country for at least 36 months.
Another route is by investing €750,000 and proof of 12 months of residency. After one-three years of residency, you will be entitled to the Maltese citizenship and passport.
Portugal Golden Visa
The Portugal Golden Visa Program came up in 2012 as the investor visa program. The government has been actively promoting it. To get a Golden Visa, you have to invest €500,000 (or at least €350,000) in Portugal real estate. Then, you will obtain the resident permit for yourself and your family (dependent children only).
Spain Golden Visa
The Spanish Visa Program was launched in September 2013 and offered an individual to invest in the country’s real estate. The minimum investment required is €500,000. Furthermore, you can rent any residential or commercial property for income. An individual can use as many properties as he wishes in order to meet the minimum investment amount requirements.
Greece Golden Visa
The Greece Golden Visa program enables non-EU nationals and their family to obtain Greek residency by investment. A person has to invest a minimum of €250,000 in real estate property, plus the applicable taxes.
Not to mention, there are specific rules and regulations followed by each country.
So, that’s all about the EB5 Immigrant Investor Program. If you wish to learn more about it, contact us.
For anyone who wishes to acquire a US green card, this program is the perfect route.