For many people, the EB-5 investor visa process — sometimes referred to as the “Million Dollar Green Card” program — can be intimidating and confusing. Because there are so many federal regulations, rules and requirements, some investors essentially give up before they even begin the process.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want a green card and have ever considered starting your own business or purchasing an existing business in the US, the EB-5 investor visa process could be the perfect solution for you.
In its most basic form, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa program requires that you invest either $1 million in a city setting, or $500,000 in rural settings. In exchange, the US government will issue you a green card.
A total of 10,000 of these EB-5 visas are available every year and, so far, that number of applicants has been below this cap.
The key advantage of the EB-5 visa is that you get a green card out of the process and it is a relatively fast way of processing it. The downside is that the process is somewhat complex and that the visa petition requires a lot of documentation. Plus, there is the substantial financial outlay that is required.
Five Basic Criteria
There are five basic criteria that you must meet in order to qualify for an EB-5 visa:
1. You must invest or actively be in the process of investing either $1 million in a business in urban setting or $500.000 in a rural setting.
2. You must be able to provide proof that these funds come from a legitimate source.
3. The entire amount of the investment must be active or “at risk”. This means you can’t just be considering buying a business. You actually have to put up the capital that could be lost.
4. Your investment must be in a new or existing business enterprise. This means you can create your own business or buy one.
5. You have to prove that the investment directly or indirectly results in the creation or preservation of 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
If you are able to meet these five criteria, you are on your way to getting an EB-5 visa. But even then, the process is not a simple one.
Legal Help Is Often Necessary
You will need a qualified attorney with experience in immigration law –and especially EB-5 visa applications — to help you navigate your way through the application process.
An attorney can help you compile all the required documentation you will need to present to the citizenship and immigration service, including:
- Immigration forms
- Personal financial information
- Business plans
- Legal brief summarizing how you have met all the elements of the law
- Other supporting documents
Why It’s Worth It
The EB-5 visa is a great option because you can get your family green cards as well. Any member of your family — husband, wife, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 — can all get a green card once the investor has been approved for a visa.
The visa process also tends to be much faster than other pathways to citizenship. The average processing time for an EB-5 visa is six months. And the initial application and petition usually are approved from 60-days from the date of filing.