Frequently Asked Questions about EB-5 Visas

The EB-5 visa involves a complicated application process that might raise all manner of technical and/or esoteric questions: how much is the initial application fee? Why is it EB-5 instead of EB-6 or EB-7? What is the purpose of life? The answers to these particular questions are: $3,675, bureaucracy, and 42, respectively.

Unsurprisingly, there are many more questions related to the EB-5 visa that require a more thorough response. While we recommend engaging the services of an experienced immigration attorney to answer any question you may have (at least with regard to immigration law), below we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about the EB-5 visa, along with their answers.

Q: Who can apply for EB-5?

A: Anyone with sufficient investment funds ($1,000,000, or $500,000 if the investment is located in a targeted employment area). Unlike applicants for the first four categories of employment-based immigrant visas, EB-5 investors need not have a particular background or skill set. However, their funds must be legally obtained.

For a more detailed answer to this question, click here.

Q: How long does it take for an EB-5 applicant to obtain a green card?

A: Usually, the whole process takes about one to one and a half years for an EB-5 applicant to get a conditional green card:

  • It takes about six months to receive approval for an I-526 petition.

    -Petitioners living in the United States should then expect to wait another six months for approval of their adjustment of status applications, but this can sometimes take longer if the background check does not clear in a timely manner.

    -Petitioners living abroad at the time of application should apply for an immigration visa through a U.S. consular office, a process which also takes approximately six months.

  • After approval of the adjustment of status application or receipt of the immigrant visa through consular processing, the investors and their families receive conditional green cards within a few weeks at their U.S. address.

Q: Can I use retained earnings as investment?

A: No. Retained earnings are not considered an investment.

Q: Is a promissory note an investment of capital?

A: It depends. An unsecured promissory note is not an investment of capital. The investment must be in real money. However, if an investor demonstrates that the note is secured by his or her property and the secured note is used by the enterprise to receive EB-5 investment, then it can count.

Q: Can I use the money gifted by a parent or other relative for an EB-5 investment?

A: Yes, provided that you have paid applicable gift taxes. You must also demonstrate that the gift is an actual transaction and that the gifted funds will not be given back after you obtain a green card.

Q: Can I use money coming from funds in a joint account?

A: Yes, but investment can only come from joint accounts owned by the investor and his or her spouse. This does not extend to joint accounts held with other family members. The investor must establish that all funds come from accounts under his or her name.

Q: What is a "conditional" green card?

A: A conditional green card is a temporary green card valid for two years. An EB-5 investor first receives a conditional card before he or she is able to receive a green card without conditions. When the investor successfully applies for a removal of conditions, the investor and his immediate family members are given permanent green cards.

Q: What documents must I prepare for my EB-5 application?

A: Please see the requirements page of the EB-5 section for a list. Note, however, that requisite documentation tends to vary on a case-by-case basis.

Q: In your experience, how much documentation will I need?

A: In short, as much documentation as possible. It is better to provide too much information about, say, the source of your funds rather than too little, because USCIS examines this aspect (and others) of your application very thoroughly.

Q: Are EB-5 visas available to people from any country in the world?

A: Yes, barring any issues of inadmissibility. There is a backlog currently for China-mainland nationals, however; for more information, refer to the visa bulletin here.

Q: Does the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) apply to the EB-5 program?

A: Generally, yes. According to USCIS, “CSPA allows the time a visa petition was pending to be subtracted from the biological age of an applicant for permanent residence so that the applicant is not penalized for the time in which USCIS did not adjudicate the petition.” Per USCIS guidance on the issue, an EB-5 investor’s child basically needs to be unmarried and under age 21 at the time the investor’s I-526 is filed. For example, say it takes six months to adjudicate Form I-526, and your child is 20 years old and 11 months at the time of filing. Because of the CSPA, your child will still be eligible as a derivative beneficiary of your petition (provided a visa number is available at the time your application is approved). 

Q: How do I start my EB-5 application process?

A: You should contact Zhang & Associates by calling or sending an email to info@hooyou.com to set up an initial consultation!

For more detailed information about the EB-5 visa, refer to the following links:

Updated 06/09/2017