4 Misconceptions Involving the EB-5 Investor Program

The EB-5 Investor program was formed as a measure to boost the U.S. economy and create new job opportunities for the U.S. nationals. It was created by an act of Congress in the year 1990 and has been implemented ever since for foreign nationals who wish to invest in U.S.-based businesses. The program allows the investor to obtain a conditional residence of 2 years in the U.S, and after that time, pending certification of job and project numbers, the investor can apply for removal of conditions and permanent residency.

Since the implementation of this rule, numerous foreign nationals have invested in businesses in the U.S. However, over the years, many misconceptions surrounding the EB-5 visa program have blossomed, and are still continuing to form, which have created confusion in the application process.

Let’s take a look at these misconceptions in details and debunk the myths:

EB-5 Visa Guarantees Lawful Permanent Residence — FALSE

An EB-5 visa application is a very complex procedure that requires thorough scrutiny and approval by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at every stage. Even available funds and an at-risk investment do not guarantee acceptance into an EB-5 program.

Once the I-526 petition is approved by the USCIS, the foreign nation is eligible to apply for a green card in the U.S. This green card will be conditional and initially valid for two years. An I-829 petition needs to be filed along with certifying evidence indicating that all requirements have been met and the capital is still at-risk. Even then approval from USCIS does not mean an immediate green card as processing times vary and can take up to 17 months.

Upon Filing I Can Enter the U.S. as a Permanent Resident — FALSE

USCIS receives thousands of petitions per year. As such, approval of the petition takes a lot of time. Additionally, it is important to understand that an EB-5 visa does not speed up the green card process in any way. It may take about 2 years to obtain the approval for conditional residence. A number of stages are involved in obtaining an EB-5 visa, which is subject to approval and it does not mean immediate entry into the U.S.

Only Wealthy People Can Apply for EB-5 Visa — FALSE

To obtain an EB-5 visa, an individual needs to invest at least $1,000,000 in a U.S.-based business. In the case of businesses located in a rural area or a region with a very high unemployment rate (also known as Targeted Employment Area), the minimum investment amount is $500,000.

Even though this may sound like a lot of money, the sources of funds could be derived from a number of sources as long as they are legitimate and traceable. Such sources may include the following:

Loans from a company that the investor is a shareholder of;
Home equity loans;
Sale of real property;
Family inheritances; and 
Life savings.

The investor does not necessary have to be wealthy to apply for an EB-5 visa. Anyone can participate in the EB-5 Investor Program if the requirements are fulfilled.

A TEA Status Can Never Change

If a funding period for a project eclipses many years, the TEA status may change. Each year the project developers and regional center are required to obtain an updated TEA letter indicating compliance with the designated TEA standard. If the area surrounding the project develops above its designated status, the amount needed to qualify as an investment may be raised.

It is important to understand the purpose of the process and the steps involved in order to avoid any confusion at a later stage. Since the steps involved are quite complicated, it is wise to hire a competent EB-5 immigration lawyer in the U.S. to ensure that the right steps are taken to complete the process.