EB-5 Green Card Visa Program » Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Evaluating the EB-5 Investor Visa Program

What is the process for obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa?
What is the approximate timeline of an EB-5 Visa?
What are the different EB-5 Visa Options? How much do I need to invest?
What are the advantages and benefits of the EB-5 Visa Program?

EB-5 Availability, Criteria, and Common Problems

How many EB-5 Visas are available?
What criteria must the investor meet to be accepted into the EB-5 Visa program?
What documentation must I provide for the EB-5 Visa Application?
What issue typically causes the most problems when applying for an EB-5 Visa?

Common Terminology and Explanations

What is a Regional Center?
What are the benefits of applying through a Regional Center?
How does a Regional Center obtain government designation?
What is a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)?
What is an escrow account? Why is it being recommended to me?
What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship? Which does the EB-5 Visa grant me?


Choosing EB-5

What is the process for obtaining an EB-5 Visa?

Please see our “EB-5 Process” tutorial to see a step-by-step description of the process required to obtain an EB-5 visa.

What is the approximate timeline of an EB-5 Visa?

An EB-5 Visa application can be broken down into the following steps:
1. I-526 Petition Approval – Approximately 2-4 months
2. Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing (Green Card will be granted) 2-4 months

With the completion of steps 1 and 2, the investor is now legally able to enter the United States as a conditional Permanent Resident

3. 21-24 months after the Green Card is granted, the investor will apply to remove the conditions on the Green Card Visa.
4. An optional step is to apply for citizenship. Application for citizenship must be submitted after living in the United States legally for at least 5 years.

Conditional residency can therefore be granted within 6 months and permanent, unconditional residency can be obtained in as little as 2 years.

What are the different EB-5 Visa Options? How much do I need to invest?

There are two options for how to approach an EB-5 visa application – The first option is working with a Regional Center (government licensed EB-5 investment destination) that will invest your money in accordance with the government mandates and help you with all paperwork. The second option is to invest directly into an existing business or creating your own business. This will give you more control over how the money is invested but it also means that you have to prove the money was invested adequately and met the criteria of creating 10 US full time jobs.

For more information about the difference between the options see our Step by Step EB-5 Process Tutorial

What are the advantages and benefits of the EB-5 Visa Program?

Benefits of the EB-5 Visa include:

  • The legal right to live, work, and retire in the United States for you and your immediate family (spouse and children under the age of 21)
  • A direct route to a Green Card by investing in an enterprise that creates jobs for US citizens
  • The possibility to become a U.S. Citizen after 5 years of being a Green Card holder
  • Investment with a Regional Center requires no day-to-day management of your investment
  • The investment itself generates passive income and returns
  • No sponsor needed – The applicant can use his/her own personal funds rather than a required sponsorship from an employer or family member
  • No quota backlogs—The EB-5 Visa category has none of the backlogs typical of other employment and family based green cards

EB-5 Availability, Criteria, and Common Problems

How many EB-5 Visas are available?
10,000 visas are available every year for aliens and family members whose qualifying investments result in the creation or preservation of at least ten (10) full-time jobs for U.S. workers. 3,000 of these immigrant visas are set-aside for aliens who invest in designated Regional Centers, areas of high unemployment or other qualifying rural areas.

What criteria must the investor have to be accepted into the EB-5 Visa program?

In order to be admissible to the United States, the investor must have certain criteria which include but are not limited to:

  • Be in good health (no communicable diseases or serious mental disorders)
  • Must not have a criminal record of any kind
  • Must have evidence of a qualifying financial background for at least the last five years
  • Must have the financial capacity to participate in the EB-5 Visa program (a minimum investment of $500,000 is required if investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
  • Must not have any disqualifying U.S. immigration background. These grounds generally include conditions that threaten health, safety, or morality (criminal acts) of U.S. citizens.

What documentation must I provide for the EB-5 Visa application?

  1. Proof that the investment came from a lawful source.
  2. Proof that the investor’s (your) net worth is at least $1 million USD to ensure investment coverage.
  3. Proof of transfer of funds.
  4. Copy of Passport(s).
  5. Education and employment history / background.
  6. Relevant birth, marriage/divorce, and death certificates.
  7. Police certificates and prison record.
  8. Military records.
  9. Two color photographs of each applicant.

What issue typically causes the most problems when applying for an EB-5 Visa?
The most common problem area has typically been insufficient documentation of the source of funds. To prevent international crime CIS case examiners require a well-documented source of funds to be sure that they were obtained legally. The most common error applicants make is to submit the minimum amount of documentation to prove sufficient legal funds only to have the application sent back by the USCIS. To avoid this, make sure you submit as much proof as you can obtain.

What is a Regional Center?

A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment and has gone through the qualification program with the government to use authorized funds obtained from EB-5 sources.

For a list of Regional Centers, please visit our “Locate a Regional Center” page.

What are the benefits of applying through a Regional Center?

  • Congress gave the USCIS discretion to give priority to EB-5 applications filed in conjunction with a Regional Center.
  • Investors can take credit for jobs created directly as well as indirectly from their investment in the Regional Center. Job creation is the most important stipulation of an investor obtaining his EB-5 Visa.
  • A Regional Center facilitates the pooling of capital of multiple EB-5 investors to create more wealth from the sum of their investments.
  • Regional Centers assist with all paperwork and proofs needed to apply for visas and retain them.

How does a Regional Center obtain government designation?

In order to become a designated Regional Center approved by the USCIS, a proposed Regional Center must submit a proposal showing:

  • How the Regional Center plans to focus on a geographical region within the U.S.
  • How the Regional Center will achieve the required economic growth within the region.
  • That the business plan by the Regional Center is a viable business model based on reasonable and credible estimates and assumptions for market conditions, project costs, and activity timelines.
  • How jobs will be created directly or indirectly through capital investments made in accordance with the business plan; this is crucial for foreign investors in securing their EB-5 Visa.
  • The amount and source of capital committed to the project and the promotional efforts made and planned for the business project.

What is a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)?

A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.” In this case, “rural area” means any area not within either a metropolitan area (determined by the office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city having a population of 20,000 or more people.

In relation to the EB-5 Visa Program, investing in a Targeted Employment Area allows the investor to make a $500,000 investment instead of $1 million.

What is an escrow account? Why is it being recommended to me?

An escrow account is an interest-bearing account established in a bank. This type of account is commonly used in the sales of real estate, businesses and personal property. When an escrow account is established, the funds continue to belong to the investor and there is a legal agreement between the bank or attorney that requires the funds to be released from the account only when the petition is approved by the USCIS. This step will protect you from fraud and will expedite the approval of your application.

What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship? Which does the EB-5 Visa grant me?

The approved EB-5 Visa gives the holder legal permanent residency status by means of a Green Card. With a Green Card, you have most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote and are not entitled to some public benefits. You are subject to the same tax filing requirements and entitled to the same tax rates and deductions as U.S. citizens. Most importantly, you have the legal right to work, live and send your kids to school with the rights of a citizen.

One of the most important rights a Green Card gives you is the ability to apply for citizenship after five years of being a permanent resident. Once becoming a U.S. citizen, the individual is entitled to benefits including the right to vote and to hold public office. Obtaining citizenship through these means is called “naturalization” and is only possible if you are first a permanent resident.