How to Get the EB-5 Visa in 2023: Step-by-Step Process Explained

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Welcome to our in-depth explanation  of the EB-5 visa process. While EB-5 is a complex area  of immigration law, it offers a sponsor-free pathway to obtaining a green card for the applicant, their spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21. A successful application hinges on making a substantial investment in a U.S. business and creating jobs for American workers. Follow along as we shed light on the step-by-step process involved.

 

Step 1: Consulting an EB-5 Lawyer to Discuss Other Immigration Options

 
While it may seem counterintuitive, the  first and most crucial step when considering the EB-5 visa is to consult an experienced EB-5 lawyer to discuss non EB-5 pathways to obtaining a green card in the United States.  Such avenues may be available through family relationships, employer sponsorship, and more. By consulting with an EB-5 lawyer, you can ascertain whether the EB-5 program really is the best fit for your unique circumstances by dismissing other options that may align more directly with your objectives. The EB-5 process is by far one of the most complex and involved areas of immigration law, so taking time to explore alternative green card filings  makes  this initial consultation pivotal.

 

Step 2: Selecting Your Business or Project

 
After determining that the EB-5 visa is your preferred route, the next step is choosing  a business or project in which to invest. EB-5 allows for various investment options, such as opening  a new business, investing in an existing business, or even participating  in a regional center project. Regional centers are entities certified by USCIS to sponsor a range of EB-5 projects. While we won’t delve into the specifics of these options in this article, it’s crucial to decide what kind of business or project aligns with your goals and interests.

 

Step 3: Making  Your Investment

 
One of the core requirements of the EB-5 process is ensuring that  investment funds must be “at risk.” This means an applicant’s  capital should be invested in a way that allows it to be  exposed to potential gains and losses. After ensuring the funds are at risk, the next step in the process entails preparing the initial part of the paperwork.

 

Step 4: Filing  Form I-526 with USCIS

 
USCIS Form I-526 is a critical component of the EB-5 process. The petition is submitted to the immigration service in an effort to establish that the applicant has  met all the necessary EB-5 requirements. This application is often tedious and time consuming to prepare and isn’t to be underestimated. Alongside the petition, extensive documentation will serve as the meat or bones of the application, including a comprehensive business plan and evidence of the source of  investment funds. Once filed with USCIS, the he processing time for Form I-526 can extend to several months or even well over a year.

 

Step 5: Applying for the Green Card through Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

 
It is important to note that Form I-526, alone, doesn’t confer any immediate immigration benefits. To live and work in the United States, an applicant  must either apply for  adjustment of status (if already lawfully present in the U.S. on some nonimmigrant visa) or go through consular processing if outside the U.S. These steps, also known as immigrant visa processing, are essential to gaining lawful permanent resident status.

Recent changes allow individuals meeting certain criteria  to concurrently file Form I-526 and their adjustment of status application without having to wait for the I-526 to first be approved. This means that an applicant can  file both applications at the same time and acquire substantial benefits like an employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole about six to eight months after submission, even if  Form I-526 is still pending.

 

Step 6: Seeking Two-Year Conditional Permanent Residence

 
After being approved for adjustment of status or consular processing, an applicant  enters a two-year period of conditional permanent residence. It is during this time that the investor must maintain their  investment and create ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. It’s important to clarify that not all l ten jobs are required to be created before filing Form I-526 or during the adjustment of status process. An applicant has  the two-year conditional permanent residence period within which to satisfy this requirement.

 

Step 7: Filing Form I-829

 
About three months (or 90 days) before the  two-year conditional permanent residence period expires, the very last step in the EB-5 green card process entails filing  Form I-829. This application is crucial for removing conditions from the  green card and  transitioning from conditional to unconditional lawful permanent resident status. Form I-829 demonstrates that the applicant has met the job creation requirement and maintained the necessary  investment, among other criteria.

 

Step 8: Naturalization (Bonus Step)

 
After completing the EB-5 process successfully and obtaining lawful permanent residence, an  applicant may become eligible to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen.  This is an optional process but one well worth considering.

We hope this comprehensive guide has clarified some of the complexities surrounding the EB-5 visa process. This article provides general information, not legal advice, but if  you know someone who could benefit from this information, please feel free to share this blog  with them.

 

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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

President of Ashoori Law

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.