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EB-5 Visa Program for US Immigration

For many number of people, American citizenship is an attractive prospect. Given that it is highly sought-after, there are stringent criteria surrounding US immigration.  The EB-5 visa was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 and provides a method whereby eligible immigrant investors may become lawful permanent residents of the United States, informally referred to as green card holders.

What does a green card actually afford you?

There are many benefits of acquiring and holding a green card:

  • You can live in any of the 50 states of the US.
  • You can enter and leave the country at any time. Immigration officials will not deny you entry.
  • You do not need to fill in the I-94 form, and you don’t need to worry about your authorized stay expiring. The green card status has lifetime validity, although the card does require renewal every
    10 years.
  • You can work in the US without need for employer sponsorship. You are not subject to restrictions, such as the type of job you work or constrained by specific weekly working hours. In fact, some jobs are open only to US citizens and green card holders because of security clearance requirements, providing more job opportunities for those with the EB-5 visa.
  • You can apply for financial sponsorship from the government for pursuing education.
  • College and university tuition fees for green card holders are usually 3–4 times less than that for foreigners.
  • You can start your own business, even create a corporation.
  • If you have worked for 40 quarters (roughly 10 years), you become eligible for social security benefits upon retirement.
  • Unlike a temporary work permit holder, you need not worry about any changes in immigration rules.
  • You are legally capable of sponsoring your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old for permanent status.
  • Most health and life insurance companies in the US issue policies to immigrants only if they have green cards.
  • You can make contributions to political campaigns.
Green card eligibility

You can become a permanent resident of the United States in several ways. The most common is to be sponsored by either a relative or employer within the US. EB-5 visas are also granted to Diversity Immigrants, selected through the Department of State’s diversity visa lottery.

You may also be eligible for a green card if you are categorized as a Special Immigrant, of which there are several subcategories:

  • Religious worker coming to the US to work for a nonprofit religious organization
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile, a child who has been abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents
  • Afghanistan or Iraq nationals who served as translators for the US government, were employed by the US government in Iraq for at least 1 year or were employed by the International Security Assistance Force
  • International broadcaster coming to the US to work in the media
  • Employee of an international organization

Green cards may also be granted to victims of abuse, crime and human trafficking. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also list a number of other less common eligibility criteria, which may nevertheless be exceedingly important to you and your own personal situation.

EB-5 visa application

The EB-5 visa is the fastest, and indeed most common, method of green card application. The entire process takes 12–18 months from application to the applicant’s receipt of the conditional green card.

The process begins by selecting an investment program, and then filing an I-526 Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur in order to demonstrate that one is in the process of investing $USD 500,000–$1 million into a new commercial enterprise. The specific amount is contingent on whether the investment is made in an economically depressed location, referred to as a target employment area (TEA). The petition is ordinarily prepared on behalf of the applicant by an immigration attorney and must demonstrate that the applicant’s capital investment is derived from a lawful source of funds.

Petitioners already residing in the US should then expect to wait another 6 months for approval of their adjustment of status applications. Those living abroad should apply for an immigration visa through a US consular office, a process which also takes 6 months. Once the status application adjustment has been approved or the immigrant visa has been received through consular processing, the investor and their family receive conditional green cards within a few weeks at their US address.

In just a few months’ time, however, things are set to change.

New EB-5 regulations

On November 21st 2019, the minimum investment for ordinary EB-5 immigrants will increase from $1 million to $1.8 million. There will also be an increase in the minimum investment amount required in TEAs, from $500,000 to $900,000.

There will also be a change in the regulations for the transition from a temporary green card, stipulating that family members must submit their own temporary green card. The USCIS will also allow EB-5 investors to use the priority date of previously approved visa applications in subsequent applications, unless the Department of Immigration has cancelled the approval of the previous immigration application because of fraud or error.

We can advise you

Fantastic opportunities await skilled and enthusiastic Hong Kong jobseekers in the US — and Simard & Associates can help. We are a Hong Kong-based professional immigration intermediary for clients in Canada, North America and other popular and desirable immigrant countries. Get in touch today and see how we can accelerate your brand-new life in the US!