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How does an EB-5 visa work?

What is an EB-5 Visa?

EB-5 stands for Employment-based fifth preference visa, also known as EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. It is one of five employment based visa programs offered in the U.S. These investments are facilitated by regional centers approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The program was created in 1992 and designed to bring foreign investment to the U.S. The investors are required to contribute a minimum of $500,000-$1,000,000 to a U.S. business that will create 10 new jobs for American citizens.

How do you apply for an EB-5 Visa?

1. Find a project

First, an EB-5 applicant must find a project that meets the EB-5 program requirements.

Regional centers approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services facilitate these investments in the U.S. If the project is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the investment minimum is $500,000, and if it is a non-TEA community the minimum capital investment is $1,000,000. A Targeted Employment Area is a community with an unemployment rate 150 percent the national average. Regardless of investment type or region, 10 long-term jobs must be created.

2. Capital Investment and the I-526

After the investment is completed and the job requirement is fulfilled, an investor files an I-526 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to demonstrate that they have made their investment and it has led to the creation of 10 long-term U.S. jobs.

3. 2-year Conditional Residence

After the I-526 petition is accepted, the applicant is eligible to apply for a 2-year conditional residence. In order to obtain this residence, the applicant must submit a DS-230 permit through the U.S. embassy or consulate within their own country.  

4.  Unconditional Permanent Residency and I-829 petition

90 days before the expiration of the 2-year permit, applicants must submit an I-829 petition to remove the temporary and conditional status of their visa, allowing them to reside in the U.S. for another five years to grow and expand their programs. After the five years, the investors and their families can choose to apply for naturalization and continue to pursue their careers as official U.S. citizens.

How did the backlog begin?

The EB-5 process is not an easy one; it requires multiple forms, permits, and applications to be processed at every step of the process.On the most expedited timeline, an applicant can receive permanent residence at a minimum of 4 ½ years after initial application, but even minor government processing delays have a severe impact on the timeline. As applications have grown exponentially since its creation in 1992, the government processing method has stayed the same, causing massive delays in application processing. This can occur even after the initial investment has been made, forcing investors to wait decades to receive even temporary visa status.


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