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As many of us so deeply understand, immigrants are what make our country great. Although we're living in troubling times, hardworking individuals like yourself are still able to come to the United States in order to pursue and achieve amazing accomplishments. But what you might not realize is that just how many ways there are to be granted permission to enter the U.S. legally through visa programs. One of these programs is Fifth Preference or the EB 5 visa program. In today's post, we'll explain some of the important points to keep in mind when applying for this type of visa.

What Is An EB 5 Visa? Can Anyone Obtain One?

The EB 5 visa, which is more formally known as the Fifth Preference Immigrant Investor Visa, is a relatively new development in the United States. It was put into place by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. This specific program was developed as an effort to improve the American Economy and is geared towards investors and entrepreneurs. As such, it's not a visa that absolutely everyone can obtain.

The program grants a visa to investors immigrating to the U.S. who agree to invest a certain amount of capital to back a business created here, whether through a designated regional center or a direct investment. The minimum investment amount is $500,000 USD and the investment must be “at risk,” meaning there are no guarantees of return of investment.  Keep in mind that "capital" can refer not only to liquid cash but also to property, assets, inventory, equipment, and other types of investments. Typically, eligible investors must target an area within the U.S. with a high unemployment rate if the investment is $500,000 USD, however, if they invest $1,000,000 USD, then they can invest anywhere in the United States. The investment must create 10 new full time jobs. In order to even apply for this visa, investors are required to establish source of funds.  Source of funds can be from the sale of property or a one time gift from family. This prevents individuals who derive their incomes from illegal sources to obtain a visa. The EB 5 investor visa program is therefore limited to high networth individuals or entrepreneurs.

What Is the EB 5 Timeline Like?  Is Premium Processing available?

While most visa program applications are notoriously complex, the EB 5 visa may arguably require more work than others. There are forms to fill out, of course, but you must also jump through several other hoops.

You'll have to confirm your eligibility as an investor, which will require you to reveal information pertaining to your personal finances. You'll then decide on the type of investment you want to make (i.e., you'll need to choose between establishing a business or investing in a regional center). This part of the EB 5 timeline may be extensive, generally about three months, as you'll have to gather a lot of information and trace your financial records from the last seven years or even longer. Once you've done that, you can file your I-526 petition. The adjudication of the I-526 can take up to 16  months or more to complete. After you've been approved, you will schedule an appointment for an interview at the U.S. embassy, if you are abroad. Provided all goes well, this part of the EB 5 timeline comes with a six-to-twelve-month waiting period. At that point, you may be granted a conditional green card; two years after your approval, you are required to submit another filing, I-829, for a permanent green card or 10 year green card, which typically takes around 18 months or more approval. Five years after receiving your permanent green card, you are eligible to apply for Citizenship.

Currently there are select projects through designated regional centers which allow for premium processing or expedited processing which allow you to cut the line sort of speak.  The premium processing guarantees that USCIS will adjudicate your I-526 petition in three months instead of the normal time frame of 16 to 24 months. However, USCIS does not guarantee that your petition will be approved in three months, only that they will render a decision on your petition in three months.

How Can I Receive Help When Applying For This Visa Program?

There's no doubt that the EB 5 timeline will be a slow process. But it's also a very complicated process with many moving parts. That's why it's imperative to seek out assistance from an experienced EB 5 immigration lawyer. Because there are so many essential components required in your application and so many deadlines to meet, having help from an EB visa attorney can make all the difference.