Since so many foreign applicants have preferred the EB-5 visa program as their method of obtaining permanent U.S. residence, the number one question that arises is how long does the EB-5 process take?
The EB-5 program is a business investment based visa in which the foreign investor must invest at least $500,000 into an approved EB-5 project in return for permanent U.S. residence. The investment must either create or save at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Upon completion of the EB-5 project, if all United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements are met, the investor, the investor’s spouse and their unmarried children under the age of 21 are issued an EB-5 visa green card.
The first step of the EB-5 process is hiring an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney is required and should help to guide the investor with all of the applications required when applying for the EB-5 visa. It is important to verify the attorney’s credibility and experience with EB-5, after all they will be partially responsible on whether the investor and the investor’s family will receive a green card based on their competence. The more specialized and familiar the attorney is with the EB-5 process, the easier the process will be.
However, it is the investor’s sole decision on which EB-5 project they are going to be investing in. There are over 100 different USCIS approved EB-5 programs so extensive research is mandatory. There are EB-5 consulting firms that can help to assist an investor with advice and information regarding all of the EB-5 projects but it is ultimately the investor’s choice.
Once an EB-5 project is selected, the immigration attorney will assist the investor with their I-526 petition and submit it to the USCIS for review. The I-526 petition must provide detailed evidence that the potential investor has already made or is in the process of making an investment into the USCIS approved EB-5 project; bank statements, asset verification, funds transfers, stock certificates, and other financial transactions must be submitted in order to gain approval. Additionally, the types of funds being invested are closely scrutinized. Financial assets must have been lawfully obtained, as supported by tax returns or similar confirming documentation. This may take up to 6 months for approval.
After approval the investor must then undergo a medical examination and an interview with the U.S. Consulate. Conditional Resident status is usually granted at this point in time and the investor and the investor’s family must enter the United States at least once within 180 days after approval of their conditional residence.
Once the chosen EB-5 project receives its investor quota, construction and development will begin. The project may take up to 2 years to complete given there are no delays with the project. When development of the project is complete, the investor will then file an I-829 petition.
The USCIS will examine the project to ensure all of the requirements are met. If so, the I-829 will receive approval and all conditional status will be removed and permanent residence for the investor and the investor’s family will be granted. The I-829 can take anywhere from six to eight months for approval.