EB5 Visa Process for US Green Card – I-526, I-485 and I-829

eb5 visa process i526 i485 i829

In this article, you can learn about how to get U.S. Green Card via EB5 Visa along with the steps and stages of the EB5 Visa application process along with the timeline for EB5. Here’s a top-level overview of EB5 Visa steps

  • Step 1: Investor selects the project after due diligence and arranges the funds
  • Step 1: Investor applies for I-526. Grants Conditional Green Card
  • Step 2: Apply for I-485 or Consular Processing
  • Step 3: Apply for I-812 to remove the conditional Green Card status

Let’s start with some frequently asked questions about the EB5 Visa process.

1. How to get Green card in the USA via EB category?

There are two ways to get U.S. Green Card

  1. Family-based Green Card Categories
  2. Employment-Based Green Card – EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5

Note: There are other ways, like the Green Card Lottery. But that’s not in the scope of this. I’m going to focus on Investment based Green Card Process EB5 steps and stages of EB5 Visa.

2. I’m on OPT, and I have applied for H1B Visa. Can I apply for Green Card via EB5 Visa?

Yes, students on F1 Visa, OPT and STEM OPT can apply for EB5 Visa. Also, H1B Visa holders who are waiting for several years to get the Green Card via EB2 and EB3 are eligible to apply for Green Card via Investment (EB5 Visa).

3. My HB is not selected in the lottery, and STEM OPT will expire shortly. Can I apply for EB5 Green Card and stay in the USA and continue my employment?

I’m afraid not. For you to continue your stay in the USA, you would need to get a valid visa status like OPT, STEM OPT, and followed by another status like H1B Visa. The first stage of EB5 green card is I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur doesn’t have an option to maintain legal status within the US.

EB5 Visa Series

EB5 Visa Process – Infographic

eb5 visa process steps

Stage 0: EB5 Projects and Funds

This stage in the EB5 Visa process is probably the most challenging and difficult stage of the entire EB5 Green Card process. This stage involves two sub-stages in EB5

  • Step 1: Decide on EB5 Projects
  • Step 2: Arrange Investment Funds for EB5

Step 1: EB5 Projects

There are several EB5 Projects out there in the market. So, how to select the best EB5 project for Investment?

I follow your blog. I had some suspicions about EB5 ventures. I was looking for some vouch especially from someone like you. (Reader)

Please work with a qualified Immigration Attorney, and you will not find anyone pointing the finger directly at a project. You, as an investor, take al the inputs, process them, and do your due diligence. There are SEC rules that prevent a common man from giving financial advice on EB5 projects.

For a middle-class person to be able to afford EB5 Investment visa is not an easy task. You are investing your entire life savings in getting the Green Card. And it’s not going to be easy if the money is going to be at risk for many years.

So, you have to do your due diligence – carefully study the project, ask a lot of questions, and pick the best project that you feel comfortable with

Some of you might feel comfortable with EB5 construction projects like Hotel, High Raise build, and others might look for different areas for EB5 investment.

At this stage of EB5 Visa process, plan to travel to visit the actual EB5 project, get a good feeling about the Developer, activities going in the construction site, and the progress they have made with the project till date.

I know an investor from India, came to the U.S. to visit the potential EB5 projects he had shortlisted through EB5 Regional Centers. After visiting multiple projects, he picked an EB5 Project through a Regional Center. He got I-526 approval, applied for consular processing, and moved to the US with his wife and two sons.

 

Step 2: Arrange EB5 Capital 

The activities in this stage would happen in parallel to EB5 project selection. If you take an EB5 investor (Indian National) on H1B Visa. Let’s assume that EB5 Investor required funds from two sources: 50% from his savings and 50% of the EB5 capital is coming from his parents as a gift.

For an H1B Visa holder, the EB5 capital could come from home equity, 401(k), stocks sales, the sale of an investment home, etc.

But, most Indian parents don’t have their savings at their disposal. It may be in the form of Jewelry, Land, Lending, etc. So, it would take a few months to mobilize the funds for EB5 green card.

Source of EB5 funds can be a gift to you from your parents as well or relatives as well. If  it’s a gift from your parents, the EB5 capital would probably take the following route:

A loan taken by Parents > Gifted to You > Deposit to Your US Account > EB5 Project

That’s just an example. And you get the idea about arranging the funds for EB5 Visa.

1. EB5 Visa Process – Apply for I-526

Once you have decided on an EB5 Project, arranged required investment amount

  • Investment fund ($500,000)
  • Admin Fees (up to $50,000)
  • Attorney fees (varies)

It’s time to prepare the required documents required to apply for I-526 (Stage 1 of the EB5 process).

Documentation requirements for you and the projects could add up to 2000 to 5000 of pages.

A qualified EB5 Immigration Attorney should handle this process.

The current processing time of I-526 application is between 27.5 and 49 months.

i526 Processing Times uscis

 

 

Plus, there’s a backlog for Indian Nationals. About 10,000 EB5 visas are issued per year.

1. When should I pay the $500,000?

The majority of the EB5 projects would require the entire investment amount and along with admin fees to be paid at before filing the I-526 petition with USCIS. I have also heard that some projects would let you apply for I-526 with a lower amount, but the EB5 investor should transfer the rest of the EB5 capital funds as soon as possible.

You should have a discussion about this with the EB5 Project but may have to provide USCIS with the documentation for sources of the remaining funds and why they are not available immediately.

2. What happens after submitting the I-526 application to USCIS? 

You have to wait until the USCIS approves the I-526 application. At the time of this writing, it takes about 24 months for USCIS to approve the I-526 petition. If USCIS requires additional documents, they will send an RFE.

3. Is there a premium processing for I-526?

Unlike H-1B Visa and I-140, there’s no premium processing for I526. It would be helpful if USCIS charges like $5000 to $10,000 for premium processing of I526 – an additional revenue for USCIS and faster approval for EB5 investors.

4. What happens after I-526 is approved?

The I-526 approval provides the EB5 Investor with a Conditional Green Card. It has the same benefits as a regular green card. You can use that to travel without visa stamping, and live in the USA, work for an employer or start your business.

I will discuss the removal of conditional green card status in Stage 3 of the EB5 visa process.

While looking at an EB5 project, you can ask for how many I-526 have been filed and approved till date.

EB5 Stage 2: I-485 or Consular Processing

After I-526 is approved, you have two options:

  • I-485 – Adjustment of Status (if you are in the USA on a valid status)
  • DS-260 at National Visa Center (if you are outside the USA)

This stage applies to all green card applications – EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5.

Just like how an F1 student after the H1B Visa is approved, the status changes to H1B if the Change of Status application is approved.

If the COS is not approved for F1 to H1B, then the applicant would have to leave the country, apply for Visa at a Consular post and enter the USA on H1B Status.

We are talking about a similar process here. F1 to H1B is a change of nonimmigrant visa status.

I-485 grants immigrant visa status. It can be done by filing I-485 if you already in the USA. An interview is required to I-485 approval within the USA.

 

EB5 Stage 3: I-829 to Remove Conditional Green

In this stage of the EB5 process, your Immigration Attorney would I-829 to prove that the job creation requirement of the EB5 project has been met.

The EB5 money invested should create at least 10 jobs per $500,000 investment.

EB5 Projects at this stage would provide documentation to prove they have created required jobs. While selecting a project, you should ask the developer about job cushion. Are they creating exactly 10 jobs per investor or 15 or 20 jobs? Additional job cushion is always safer.

I-829 is filed between 21 to 24 months after approval of the I-526 application.

Once USCIS approves I-829, the conditional green card status is removed, and you and your family would get the regular green card.

I829 removal of conditions for eb5 Processing Times

 

Once I829 is approved, the EB5 investor can request the invested funds from the project.

As part of your due diligence, you have to understand the risks of investments clearly.

1. When does the clock start to apply for U.S. Citizenship?

The clock to apply for U.S. Citizenship starts after the approval of I-526. By the time you have received support for I-829, you are on your way to meet the five-year waiting period to apply for U.S. Citizenship.

2. What will the EB5 project return the money?

Once the I-829 is approved, you can request the return of your investment per the terms agreed. You would have to discuss with the Developer about the terms. Some projects would have to sell your share or refinance or pay from the EB5 project’s operating profits. So, during your due diligence, you need to understand the capital repayment offered by the developer.

3. Is there a guarantee for the EB5 capital to be returned?

As per USCIS regulations, EB5 funds invested should at risk. The project contract cannot state offer a guarantee of the EB5 capital.

Summary:

Here’s the quick overview of the EB5 visa process and steps.

  • The first step in EB5 is to select a project to invest
  • Arrange for EB5 capital and transfer the funds to the EB5 project
  • File I526 petition with USCIS
  • Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
  • 2 Years after I-526 approval, apply I-829 to remove conditions

EB5 Visa Series

  1. EB5 Visa Process for US Green Card – I-526, I-485, and I-829
  2. Glossary of EB5 Visa Terms
  3. 20 FAQ’s About EB5 Visa for H1B Visa Holders
  4. Source fo EB5 Visa Funds for H1B & H4 Visa Holders
  5. Can $500,000 Investment be Any Type of EB5 Projects?
  6. EB5 Investment – $900,000 or 1.8 Million
  7. EB5 Visa Investments: Direct, Direct Pooled vs Regional Center
  8. EB5 Visa – I526 Denied Due to Source of Funds – Example 
  9. 8.4 Years for EB5 India vs 50 Years for EB2/EB3 India

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