If you’re ready to turn your $500,000 investment into at least ten permanent, full-time jobs for a U.S. government-approved commercial venture, you’re ready for an EB-5 Investor Visa. The benefits of obtaining this visa are numerous – even more so than previous investor visa programs. However, applicants should be aware of the facts first. Several eligibility requirements, as well as time contingencies, must be met during the application process. That’s why, when it comes to the EB-5 visa program, knowledge is key.

What is an EB-5 Investor Visa?

An EB-5 investor visa is designed to increase U.S. economic development through entrepreneurial investment from individuals seeking permanent residence status with a green card. Applicants seeking EB-5 visas may invest in U.S. commercial endeavors through government-sponsored regional centers, which enable applicants to receive green cards in exchange for investment capital. Regional centers are located in nearly every state, and must be certified by the government before processing EB-5 applications.

Advantages of Obtaining an EB-5 Visa

Unlike other investment visas such as the E2 Visa, the EB-5 investor visa allows greater freedom during the process, and is one of the fastest routes to U.S. citizenship available. For instance, as part of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa, applicants are not required to prove non-immigrant intent, or be involved in a company’s day-to-day affairs. In addition, the minimum ten permanent, full-time jobs that must be created do not have to be directly related to the investment company, making it easier to qualify for permanent resident status after the initial 2-year wait period.

EB-5 Visa Eligibility

Several requirements are necessary before an application for the EB-5 investor visa will be processed. First, the applicant must be able to invest $500,000 to a rural or highly unemployed area, or $1,000,000 to other investment areas. This investment cannot be a guaranteed investment. In other words, the applicant must invest at his or her own risk, based solely on the merits of the particular EB-5 regional center program. Also, an applicant is only eligible if an EB-5 visa is available for that year at the time of application. Only 10,000 EB-5 visas may be issued on a yearly basis.

Applying for the EB-5 Visa

There are two ways to begin the application process. Those living outside the U.S. may submit an EB-5 application using Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, for special processing through the State Department. Those living inside the U.S. may obtain the visa by applying for an adjustment of status using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Both Form I-526 processing, also called consular processing, and Form I-485 processing, confer a 2-year conditional permanent resident status on the applicant with an EB-5 Green Card.

During the conditional status, applicants are eligible to work or retire within the United States, or travel abroad using Travel Documents. Once this two-year period is complete, the applicant must submit a second petition for permanent resident status. At this time, conditions to permanent resident status will only be removed if the regional center can assure a government agency that investments were properly made, and that the required number of jobs have been created. After five years, the applicant is eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship.