The new EB-5 immigration visa numbers are now available for application in the United States as of October 1.
However, the Immigration Investor Program Office in Washington has cautioned that there may be prolonged processing times due to new hiring and training of the staff which was necessary to meet the “drastically increased” number of green card applications.
Though it may seem that the slower processing time would lead to reduction in the demand for EB-5s, however this doesn’t seem likely. In 2014, after the first three quarters of the fiscal year, there were 10,375 petitions pending with the US Customs and Immigration Service – up by 46% from the pending 7,131 petitions at the end of 2013 fiscal year.
It has been advised by the immigration department that EB-5 investors should continue to apply as soon as possible since the slower processing time will not affect the adjudication of the applications.
Also in case the number of Chinese applications from investors goes past the limit, the State Department will make a waiting list for them based on the date of application. “Accordingly, EB-5 investors who have filed their I-526 Petitions prior to other EB-5 investors will be closer to the front of the EB-5 immigration visa line,” the state department said.
The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program was started through the Immigration Act of 1990. Since then, every year the state makes available 10,000 EB-5 Green Cards. In order to qualify for the EB-5 investor visa program, potential applicants have to fulfill three basic requirements:
- They have to start a US business or invest in an existing business which had been created or restructured after Nov 19, 1990. Such an investment could be in the form of capital like gift or loan, cash, or inventory, equipment, or property and must increase the business’ capital by 40% or increase employment level by creating at least 10 jobs;
- They must have invested at least $1 million in the business (or $500,000 if it is in a target employment area – an area which has unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average or a rural area);
- The business must provide self-sustaining, full-time jobs for at least 10 US workers.
The ideal applicants for EB-5 could be investors, entrepreneurs, wealthy retirees, doctors who did not pass the US Medical Licensing Examination, F-1 students wishing to do business, and parents who want to get US education for their children without being actively involved in doing a business.
According to the VISA Service, the complete process may take four to five years, depending on the place of application. Interested applicants should do their due-diligence homework and get the funding and required documentation lined up on time. It can take six months to a year for adjudication of the application alone.
Upon approval of the application, it can take up to an extra two years to change the immigration status to conditional permanent residence. Thereafter there is a waiting period of 21-24 months where verification is done of the investment made and the ten jobs created.
After verification, the “conditional” status is removed and a full Green Card with indefinite permanent residence and permission to work in the US is issued.
Chinese nationals now account for 80% of the EB-5 applications.