The Immigrant Investor Program was created almost 25 years ago to stimulate the US economy. Having immigrant investors create new businesses or put money into small or struggling businesses that are already established creates more jobs and capital for the United States.
Also known as the EB-5 immigrant visa program, the Immigrant Investor Program is a fairly simple path to an employment-based green card for business-minded foreign nationals — provided that they have a great deal of money to part with. But there are some restrictions and regulations beyond just making a sizable investment.
What Are the Pathways to a Green Card Through the Immigrant Investor Program?
The Immigrant Investor Program makes 10,000 EB-5 immigrant visas available each year. For the past 22 years, 3,000 EB-5 visas have been designated specially for immigrant investors who donate to USCIS regional centers that promote further economic growth.
To gain permanent residency through the Immigrant Investor Program, foreign investors can choose either the Basic Program or the Regional Center Pilot Program. Both programs require an investment of $500,000 or, in some cases, $1 million if the investment is going toward a business or regional center in a targeted employment area.
Another requirement of the Immigrant Investor Program is that the investment made in the enterprise or regional center must create — or preserve — at least 10 full-time jobs. Investors who choose to take part in the Regional Center Pilot Program fulfill the job requirements through either direct or indirect jobs. Direct jobs are the positions that have been created within the business or regional center, whereas indirect jobs are created due to capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center.
What Is the Immigrant Investor Program Application Process?
There are three main steps to obtain a green card through the Immigrant Investor Program. The processing time before receiving a green card is generally around five to six months — significantly shorter than the processing time for other green card and immigrant visa applications. Immigrant investor applicants should know that in addition to the $500,000 or $1 million investment, filing fees for investors add up to about $6,500 — significantly more than most green card application fees.
An applicant must first submit Form I-526, Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur. Once he or she obtains approval of the I-526, then he or she needs to file the I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. With the approval of the I-485, the applicant and any immediate family members are granted conditional permanent residence for a period of two years.
Finally, in the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires, the applicant must file Form I-829, Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, which is similar to Form I-765, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, which is used by most other conditional green card holders.
If the I-829 is approved by USCIS, then a 10-year renewable green card is sent out. Standard lawful permanent residents are also eligible to petition for US citizenship after only three years. The US Immigrant Investor Program is an easy way for foreign investors — provided that they have the money — to become US green card holders and citizens.