Immigration Attorneys for EB-5 Investors
Help for Foreign Investors
With recent changes to U.S. immigration laws, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to live and work in the United States. As such, finding a path to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship can be a complex challenge. While immigration may be available to some through a family member or work sponsor, many individuals simply do not have a viable source of family or employment-based immigration. For individuals seeking an alternative solution, investment-based immigration may be the answer.
Immigration Through Investment
If you have one million dollars to invest you may be eligible to receive an EB-5 investor visa. In some cases, an investment of a half-million dollars may be all it takes to find your path to permanent residence, if the investment enterprise is located in a targeted employment area.
With the EB-5 program, foreign investors may be eligible to obtain permanent residency by investing in a USCIS designated regional center. The foreign investor(s) has the opportunity to choose from many different regional centers across the country, most of which offer a variety of incentives (Approved Regional Centers).
With an EB-5 visa, you can legally live and work anywhere in the U.S. You may also petition to bring your immediate family to the U.S. Note: You and your family must meet certain requirements for an EB-5 visa, and each family member’s eligibility will be determined on an individual basis.
Immigration Attorneys for EB-5 Investors
Immigration attorney Larry J. Behar has personally helped thousands of immigrants and non-immigrants of more than 35 different nationalities. He is multi-lingual and his office utilizes the service of interpreters for every language. He assists clients in a wide range of immigration matters, including:
- EB-5 visa applications
- Consular processing
- Green card assistance
- Help seeking status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)
- Adjustment of status
- Application for U.S. citizenship
Choosing a Regional Center
Your EB-5 Investment in a Regional Center
Over the years, the number of regional centers across the United States has continued to increase. Each contains an economic plan and a business plan, evidencing its unique goal and a vision. That said, it is important for the investor(s), prior to investing, to consider the project on its own economic merits, notwithstanding the U.S. residency benefits. As such, it is important for the investor(s) to consider the following factors when determining whether to invest in a given regional center:
- The investment must be relatively safe, even if there is a deemed ‘risk’ component;
- The returns from the project during its exploration must be reasonable and reflect market conditions ;
- The sponsor should have already made a size able financial commitment of his own to the project and thus have a vested interest in the success of the project;
- There must be a realistic expectation of return of principal at the end of the process or a stated and clear exit strategy;
- The conditional residency process must be clear and unencumbered.
It is only if when one can answer ‘yes’ to all these issues, that an investor will feel comfortable in determining that a particular regional center is for him or her. Each investor(s) is also encouraged to visit the site and meet with its principals.
Any principal who refuses such a visit is not worthy of an investment. Nonetheless, it is essential that each investor retain the services of qualified EB-5 professionals who will be able to assist in making the determination and who can help evaluate each project on a comparative basis to ensure that the selection is made correctly.
The I-526 & I-829
Conditional Residency – I-526
An application for immigrant investor status is conducted through the completion and filing of a form called an I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Included in this filing are: extensive documentation recognizing the regional center or other commercial investment, the form I-526, and supporting documents, which are then submitted to the USCIS for review.
After submission of the file, three possible results may occur. Should the petition be approved, the investor and his family can then progress with filing with the embassy or consulate in their home country or with filing an adjustment of status if they are lawfully in the United States. If the application is questionable, the USCIS may issue a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) in which the investor will be required to submit further explanations and either an approval or a denial of the application will be issued. If the application is patently erroneous, it may be denied from the beginning.
Conditional residency, following consular proceedings or adjustment proceedings in the U.S., confers a two year conditional residency on the investor and the investor’s family. We like to say that it is akin to ‘marrying’ the USA and seeing if the parties like each other!
NOTE that the key to the lifting of the conditional residency will be the regional center sponsor job creation program which will demonstrate and prove the creation of ten direct and indirect employment positions filled by US employees.
Lifting of the Conditional Residency – I-526
Prior to the end of the two year conditional residency period, the investor must submit a form I-829 for the lifting of the conditional status. The primary purpose of this petition is to demonstrate that the requisite ten jobs have been created, both directly and indirectly.
NOTE that this initial two year period will count toward the five year residency period necessary for U.S. citizenship, should the bona fide residency requirements be met. Thus, it is essential that new investors ensure that they remain in the U.S. no less than six months per year in order to ultimately qualify for citizenship and to prevent re-entry problems at the border. It is highly recommended to maintain a log of entries and exits from the U.S.
The lifting of the conditional status will not require further evidence of source of funds. Rather, it will be necessary to demonstrate that the proposed project is either under development or is imminent. The government, in its review, does maintain some flexibility in this regard.
The decision to approve or deny an I-829 application may take several months. During this time, the investor will be deemed to be in status, so long as the application for lifting is submitted between the 21st and 24th month, after issuance of the initial conditional residency. It is essential that a receipt from USCIS is received prior to the expiration date to ensure a timely filing.
Once the I-526 application is approved, many applicants will elect to finalize their applications through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home countries. This is done for purposes of ease so as not to displace any family members needlessly before their time.
The I-526 approval, issued by USCIS in California, is directed to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire. A file is then created denoting the city where the ultimate process will take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the home country of the applicant. The forms are then directed to the applicant, with a notice to the consul to open a matter in its embassy or consulate.
Once the appropriate documentation has been submitted by the investor to the National Visa Center, a notice is sent to the consulate or embassy to schedule the applicant for a final interview to ensure that he or she and all members of the family remain eligible. It is unfortunate when any member of the family does not qualify for residency due to personal reasons, and the remaining members of the family are eligible to depart without that family member.
NOTE that the spouse and minor children are entirely dependent on the principal investor to allow them to also become U.S. residents.
Adjustment of Status
Some EB-5 investors who are in lawful non-immigrant status will elect to remain in the United States and conclude their process while there. As such, along with the approval of the I-526, the investor will file the adjustment of status, an application for work authorization, and an advanced parole application to allow for foreign travel, while the case is pending with USCIS for a six-month duration. This process is repeated simultaneously for the investor’s dependents.
An adjustment of status may culminate in an interview at the USCIS office where the investor non-immigrant is residing. Occasionally, there may not be an interview. Nonetheless, the investor will receive a ‘welcome notice’ by mail assuring the investor that he or she has been approved.
NOTE that individual ‘welcome’ letters are sent to each and every family member including the minor dependents as a separate file, known as an “A” or ‘alien’ file.
In matters where the family may be separated due to circumstances, the principal investor must first be conferred with conditional residency. The dependents may then apply as ‘follow to join’ relatives. Although this process can be accomplished in the consulate or embassy in the home country, it is a long and tedious process to follow.
Why U.S. Citizenship
Many new U.S. residents question why it is so important to take the next step toward citizenship, when U.S. residency or a “green card” accomplishes similar benefits of work, travel and residency in the U.S. However, it is important to remember and recognize that this is a false sense of security.
Differences Between Citizenship and Permanent Resident Status
U.S. residency is a privilege, not a right, whereas U.S. citizenship is a right and not just a privilege. As such, your protections under the law are significantly increased as a citizen when compared to that of a resident. While it is true that applicants for U.S. citizenship must be comfortable in the English language, the benefits that accompany this right are tremendous.
Benefits of U.S. Citizenship
One of the most significant benefits of U.S. citizenship is sponsorship. A U.S. citizen is able to sponsor his or her parents living abroad. A citizen is also able to sponsor a foreign spouse on an immediate basis, whereas it takes several years for a green card holder to sponsor a spouse. Additionally, a citizen will be able to sponsor a child under the age of 21 and not experience significant wait periods.
Barring criminal activity or fraud, a U.S. citizen will retain citizenship even if he or she elects to live abroad. A U.S. citizen is an American for life.
Let us not forget that one of the most noteworthy benefits of in favor of becoming a U.S. citizen is the right to vote. This right is conferred at the swearing in ceremony for U.S. naturalization; a proud moment.
Listed below are more U.S. Citizenship benefits:
- U.S. passport – A U.S. passport facilitates you to receive assistance from the U.S. government when traveling overseas.
- Bringing family members to the U.S. – U.S. citizens generally receive priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to the U.S.
- College tuition – State universities offer college tuition and fees to residents that are significantly lower than foreign student tuition.
- Homestead Exemption. Many states have laws in place that benefit resident homeowners and protect them from rising taxes.
- Work Anywhere – Certain jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
- Becoming an elected official – Only citizens are permitted run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most State and local offices.
- Keeping your residency – A U.S. citizen’s right to remain in the United States cannot be taken away under any circumstances.
- Obtaining government benefits. Some government benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.
Investor Time Line
EB-5 Entrepreneur Investor Visa Flow Chart
|Month 0||Investor to Sign Reservation Agreement|
|Month 0||Wire of initial deposit of $0.00 USD to RC’s Escrow Bank Account|
|Month 0||Investor to Sign Fee Agreementv Optional: Investor signature of fast track waiver of due diligence periods|
|Month 0||Signature of Subscription Agreement by Investor and Regional Center|
|Month 0||Receipt and Completion of Investor and Family Questionnaires|
|Month 0||Investor to Receive Confidential Checklist from Behar Law Group|
|Month 0||Investor to Complete Source of Funds and Path of Funds Charts|
|Month 0||Investor signs SEC documents and returns documents to Behar Law Group|
|Month 0||Wire of second deposit of $500,000.00 USD to RC’s Bank Escrow Account(within 30 days of initial deposit)|
|Month 1||Compilation of Investor Documents by Behar Law Group required for I-526 Submission|
|Month 1||Behar Law Group to Receive Signature of Forms by Investor|
|Month 1||Review and Submission of Investor I-526 Application to USCIS by Behar Law Group|
|Month 7||Decision from USCIS: Approval, Denial, or Request for Further Evidence (RFE)*add approximately one month delay for USCIS to adjudicate RFE responses|
|Month 7||Notification of Approval of I-526 to National Visa Center|
|Month 7||Apply for Consular Processing via National Visa Center or Adjustment of Status by USCIS if in the US|
|Month 7||Preparation for Consular Application and Interview|
|Month 7||Medical Exam with Consular Application and Interview|
|Month 11||Final Consular Interview in Home Country or Adjustment of Status by USCIS if in the US|
|Month 11||Remittance of Approval Envelope and Immigrant Visa in Passport|
|Month 11||Entry to US at any Port of Entry (within 4 months)|
|Month 12||Receipt of Welcome Notice by Mail|
|Month 13||Receipt of I-551 Green Card by Regular US Mail|
|Month 24||Preparation of Documentation for I-829 Petition, Lifting of Conditional Status(Separate Process)|
|Month 25||Filing of I-829 Lifting of Conditional Status with USCIS to demonstrate Job Creation or Job Preservation|
|Month 30||Decision from USCIS: Approval, Denial, or Request for Further Evidence*add approximately one month delay for USCIS to adjudicate RFE responses|
|Month 31||Receipt of Welcome Notice by Mail|
|Month 31||Receipt of Final Unrestricted I-551 Residency Card by Regular US Mail|
|Month 64||Application for US Citizenship (optional)|
**All dates are estimated and are dependent on the Investor’s submission of necessary documentation for the filing of the I-526 and I-829 Petitions and on USCIS’s review of said applications.**