General EB-5 Questions

When and for whom was the EB-5 visa program created?

The EB-5 visa program was created in 1990 under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The program was created by Congress to allow foreign nationals to seek permanent resident status on the basis of an investment in the US economy.

How many EB-5 visas may be issued per year?

There are 10,000 EB-5 visas available to qualified aliens each year. 3,000 of these visas are designated for foreign nationals who invest through a program at a USCIS-designated Regional Center.

How does the EB-5 visa differ from an L-1 visa (manager transfer)?

With an EB-5 visa, you obtain a green card for conditional and then permanent residence in the United States. After 5 years, the investors and their family may obtain US citizenship, subject to meeting all immigration requirements.

Who may obtain an EB-5 visa?

Any person who can to invest the required amount into the US economy, can document that the capital was legally earned, and satisfies general eligibility requirements (e.g., medical, criminal,typically) is qualified to apply. The investor’s spouse and any minor children (under 21) also qualify. The age of the minor children is “frozen” at the time of the application so, for example, a 20-year old dependent is not in danger of “aging out” during the process.

What is the minimum investment required?

An investment of at least $1,000,000.00 is required for an EB-5 visa. If the investment is made in an area that has been designated a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), the investment is a minimum of $500,000.00. CHRC’s current project Charlotte Harbor Marina is located within a designated TEA.

Will my investment in a Regional Center be returned if my application is denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ?

Yes. Charlotte Harbor Regional Center has created an escrow account in which your investment is frozen until your I-526 application is approved by the USCIS. In the event that your application is denied, your investment will be returned to you in full minus certain administrative expenses.

How long is the “green card” valid for?

The investor and dependents receive a conditional, 2-year green card. Before the expiration of the two year period, a petition is submitted to the USCIS confirming that the investment has been made and that ten jobs have been created as a result of the investment.

If I or a member of my family is already in the U.S. on another visa, is it necessary to return to my home country in order to obtain an EB-5 visa or permanent residence?

No. In order to obtain permanent residence in the U.S. under the EB-5 program, you do not generally need to return to the country of your citizenship. If eligible you and the members of your family may apply to adjust status while in the United States.

How long does the application process take?

In general, the process takes less than one year. USCIS current target case processing time for I-526 and I-829 is five months.  After the I-526 petition is approved, it is forwarded to the overseas consulate or United States USCIS for further processing and final visa issuance/conditional residency approval.

Where can I find more information about the EB-5 visa program?

Further information regarding the application process, requirements, and benefits of the EB-5 visa program can be found on the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services http://www.uscis.gov

Is it required that I have a degree of higher education?

No. There are no education requirements for EB-5 visa applicants.

Must I have previous business experience?

No, it is not required that an applicant have previous business experience.

What if I do not speak English?

It is not required that an applicant speak English.

Is it required to show that I am in good health?

Yes. You must prove that you and any accompanying family members are in good physical and mental health, and do not have any diseases or disorders that may present a public threat.

Do I need to have earned the money for the investment myself?

No. For example, the money can be a gift. The only requirement would be to show that the gifted money was legally earned, and that taxes (if applicable) were paid on the gift. Another example would be using the proceeds of the sale of real estate to fund the investment. The investor may borrow the investment money if it is secured by assets owned by the investor, provided the investor is personally liable for repayment of the loan.

May I apply for an EB-5 visa if I have previously been denied a visa to the U.S.?

If you have been previously denied a visa to the U.S., you may still apply for an EB-5 visa. You should consult with a reputable attorney who can assess your visa history

Can qualified individuals from any country apply or are there restrictions based on citizenship?

With the exception of individuals from countries with which the U.S. does not hold diplomatic relations, citizens of any country may apply for permanent residence in the U.S. through the EB-5 investment program. As long as the applicant is able to leave his home country and has sufficient investment capital, a qualified immigration lawyer can assist the applicant with the process of obtaining an EB-5 visa.

What is the most common reason for rejection of an EB-5 visa application?

In most cases when an EB-5 visa application is rejected, the applicant failed to demonstrate that he/she had legally earned the investment capital.

What other requirements are there in order to obtain an EB-5 visa?

To obtain an EB-5 visa, as with any other visa to the U.S., the applicant and any accompanying family members must meet all requirements (e.g., criminal, medical) stipulated by the immigration laws of the United States.

What are Regional Centers?

Regional Centers are entities, organizations, or agencies that focus on a specific geographic area within the United States in order to promote economic growth within that area. Regional Centers work to increase export sales, improve regional productivity, create new jobs, and increase domestic capital investment. Regional Centers are designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

What are the benefits of investing in Regional Center projects?

1.         Investing in an approved project makes it easier to satisfy the requirements of the EB-5 visa program. For example, The investor does not have to worry about presenting a business plan for approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

2.         It is easier to satisfy the job creation requirements in a Regional Center, which is important to ensure that the condition is removed after the two-year period. Regional Centers are permitted to count both jobs that were created as a direct result of the investment and as an indirect result.

3.         The investor is not required to take an everyday role in the management of his or her investment.

4.         The investor has the opportunity to pool investment funds with other investors in a project.

5.         The investor may live and work anywhere in the United States; he or she is not obliged to live in the area where the investment is located.

What is meant by Direct and Indirect Jobs?

Direct Job Creation – These are those jobs that establish an employer-employee relationship between the newly established commercial enterprise and the persons that they employ.

Indirect Job Creation – These are the jobs held by persons who work outside the newly established commercial enterprise. For example, indirect jobs include employees of the producers of materials, equipment, and services that are used by the commercial enterprise. There is also a sub-set of indirect jobs that are calculated using economic models that are known as induced jobs. Induced jobs are those jobs created when direct and indirect employees go out and spend their increased incomes on consumer goods and services.

What are the financial risks involved with the Regional Center investment projects?

All investments are risky by nature and the Regional Center projects are not exceptions. Under the law, the Regional Center cannot guarantee profit or the return of the principal investment. The USCIS requires validation that all capital investments are classified as “at risk” with no guarantees being made by the project to the investor.

What is an escrow account?

An escrow account is a separate interest bearing account where the investor will deposit funds pursuant to a Private Placement Memorandum and Subscription Agreement executed with California Global Alliance. California Global Alliance will provide escrow account information to the investor at the appropriate time. This account serves to keep the investor’s money protected and separate until such time as the I-526 Conditional Visa application is approved.