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The EB5 Investor Program: How Immigrants Make America Great Again!

Green Card Investment Management

What is the EB5 Investor Program?

EB5 Investor Program refers to the Employment Based Immigration, Fifth Preference Investor Program. The EB5 investor program is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS, through the EB5 Investor Program, grants immigrant entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) a green card (permanent residence) if they meet the following criteria:

  1. They invest in a commercial enterprise in the United States
  2. Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers

The EB5 Investor Program (or Regional Center Program) was created in 1992, after Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1990. The goal of this program, in alignment with the Immigration Act of 1990, was to stimulate the U.S. economy through foreign investment.

The EB-5 program has become the most popular residency program in the world.

– Forbes (January 2017)


This Could Be the Quickest Way to Get a Green Card. 

– Fortune (May 2016)


#1 Best Way For Investors To Immigrate To The U.S.

– Forbes (July 2014)


What Are the EB5 Investor Program Requirements?

As discussed above, the EB5 Investor Program allows immigrant entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) to obtain a green card (permanent residence) if they meet the following criteria:

  1. They invest in a commercial enterprise in the United States
  2. Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers

Let’s break down the definition of each of the terms above.

Invest: the minimum investment required to qualify for the EB5 Investor Program is:

  1. $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area), or
  2. $1,000,000 in any new commercial enterprise in the United States

USCIS defines High Unemployment Area as, “… an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.”

USCIS defines a Rural Area as, “… any area not within either a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.”

Commercial Enterprise: any for-profit enterprise, which is structured as a(n):

  1. Sole proprietorship
  2. Limited or general partnership (LP, GP)
  3. Holding company
  4. Joint venture (JV)
  5. Corporation (C-Corp)
  6. Business trust
  7. Other publicly or privately owned entity

In addition, the commercial enterprise must be a:

  1. New Commercial Enterprise (i.e. established after November 29, 1990), or
  2. Like-New Commercial Enterprise (i.e. established on or before November 29, 1990, but restructured or reorganized to create a new commercial enterprise, or expanded through the new investment such that there is an increase of at least 40 percent in the net worth or number of employees of the commercial enterprise

USCIS defines permanent full-time jobs as, “… employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.”1

USCIS defines a qualified U.S. worker as, “… a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States including, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H1B nonimmigrant) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.”1

Further, If the commercial enterprise defined above is located within a regional center, the permanent full-time jobs may be directly or indirectly created by the commercial enterprise. However, if the commercial enterprise defined above is located outside a regional center, the permanent full-time jobs must be directly created by the commercial enterprise (or its wholly owned subsidiaries).

USCIS defines directly created jobs as, “…those jobs that establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.”1

USCIS defines indirectly created jobs as, “…those jobs held outside of the new commercial enterprise but that are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.”1

A regional center is a publicly or privately owned economic unit in the United States that is designed by the USCIS to promote economic growth. An approved list of regional centers can be found on the USCIS website3

As mentioned earlier, the USCIS administers the EB5 Investor Program. USCIS policy on EB5 adjudications is detailed in Volume 6, Part G of the USCIS Policy Manual 1.

What Is the Application Process for the EB5 Investor Program?

There are primarily three steps in the application process:

STEP 1: File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur 4

STEP 2: Following approval of the Form I-526 petition, either:

  1. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 5, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
  2. File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration 6, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa abroad to seek admission to the United States.

Upon the approval of a Form I-485 application or upon admission into the United States with an EB5 immigrant visa, the EB5 investor (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) will be granted conditional permanent residence for a 2-year period.

STEP 3: File Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status 7, within the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of the EB5 investor’s admission to the United States as a conditional permanent resident

If USCIS approves this petition, the conditions will be removed from the lawful permanent resident status of the EB5 investor and any included dependents. Once an applicant has held the green card (permanent residency) for at least 5 years, they may apply to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen.

Be sure to consult a well-reputed and reliable immigration attorney for advice. While we do not endorse any particular immigration advisory firm, you may find some recommendations in the EB5 Investor Magazine 8. We typically advise that you at least consult three independent firms, prior to picking the one firm to serve as your EB5 attorney.

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for the EB5 Investor Program?

The ability to expedite your green card (permanent residency) comes at a steep price. There are four major uses of funds:

  1. USCIS Filing Fees
  2. Immigration Attorney Fees
  3. Administration Fees
  4. The Investment

USCIS filing fees differ by form submitted. For 2018, the per applicant filing fees are:

You may pay the above fees with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check.  When filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Please note that service centers are not able to process credit card payments. 

A biometric services fee of $85 is also required for the petitioners, as well as any current spouse, former conditional permanent resident spouse, or conditional permanent resident children that are included on the petition between 14 and 79 years of age. That means you must submit a separate biometric services fee of $85 for each conditional permanent resident who is applying with you to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status.  Please note that biometric service centers are not able to process credit card payments. 6

Immigration attorney fees vary widely by immigration advisory firm 8, ranging from $12,500 to $25,000, with an average cost of $20,000 per application, with a typical split out as:

  • $12,500 due upon I-526 application submission
  • $2,500 due upon I-526 approval
  • $5,000 due upon I-829 approval

Administration fees are typically $50,000. These fees are paid to the regional center, and are used to cover upfront expenses including, but not limited to, project underwriting, business plan writers, econometrics jobs report, securities attorney fees, TEA designation and escrow services.

The Investment is the only non-expense item as it relates to the EB5 Investor Program. The minimum investment required to qualify for the EB5 Investor Program is:

  • $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area), or
  • $1,000,000 in any new commercial enterprise in the United States

This investment typically is locked-in by the regional center for a period of 5 years, and pays a 0.25% interest rate.

In Summary

The EB5 Investor Program is the most expensive way to obtain U.S. Citizenship, with minimum investment needs of $500,000 (and as high as $1,000,000 in some cases), and add-on expenses of $50,000 to $75,000 for filing fees, immigration attorney fees and administration fees.

However, in most cases, it is also the fastest route to U.S. Citizenship, especially for foreign investors from China and India, where non-EB5 employment based immigration applications take several years (even 10+ years in some cases) to obtain a green card (permanent residency).

If you have the financial resources and wherewithal to lock your money for up to five years, with the expectation of little to no return, and if that investment doesn’t constitute a substantial (more than five percent) of your net worth, then the EB5 Investor Program may be right for you.

Still Have Questions About the EB5 Investor Program? We Can Help!


Additional References:

1 EB5 Immigrant Investor Program: https://www.uscis.gov/eb-5

2 Volume 6, Part G of the USCIS Policy Manual: https://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume6-PartG.html

3 Approved list of Immigrant Investor Regional Centers: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-fifth-preference-eb-5/immigrant-investor-regional-centers

4 Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur: https://www.uscis.gov/i-526

5 Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: https://www.uscis.gov/i-485 

6 DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration: https://ceac.state.gov/ceac/

7 I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status: https://www.uscis.gov/i-829 

8 EB5 Investor Magazine: Top 25 Immigration Attorneys: https://www.eb5investors.com/magazine/article/top-25-attorneys-2017-top-25-immigration-attorneys


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