EB-5 Visa

Latest Developments

There is a short window period to be able to qualify for an  EB-5 Visa @ $500 000

On 22 June 2021 a Judge in San Francisco struck down the regulation that was implemented on 21 November 2021 that raised the minimum EB-5 investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) from $500 000 to $900 000.

The effect of this judgement is that it allows Investors to apply for EB-5 projects for $500 000 as opposed to $900 000, in a TEA.

On 30 June 2021 the EB-5 Regional Center Program failed to be reauthorised by congress. This means that we cannot accept new investors into Regional Center projects until the program is reauthorized.

However this lapse only affects the Regional Center Program. The Direct EB-5 Program is still fully operational and available for investors to take advantage of the investment amount of $500 000 while the Regional Center Program is awaiting reauthorisation.

We have a selection of EB-5 Direct projects @ $500 000 for investors to take advantage of. These Direct projects are carefully structured to meet the job creation and other requirements of the EB-5 program where the investor does not have to be actively involved in the project.

It is expected that the Regional Center Program will be reauthorised in early 2022. It is important to note that it is expected that program will be reauthorised at a higher amount than $500 000. The US government has appealed against the court case that reset the amount to $500 000. Furthermore the Department of Homeland Security which oversees the EB-5 program has also made it clear that they want to see the price increase from $500 000. It is anticipated that the price could increase to anywhere between $700 000 to $900 000.

This means that when the Regional Center Program is reauthorised the minimum EB-5 Investment amount will be higher than $500 000. It also means that if you wish to take advantage of the EB-5 Program at $500 000 you only have a short space of time to do so before the anticipated price increase.

 

EB-5 Visa Requirements and Cost

The US government requires EB-5 investments to comply with strict guidelines in order to promote job creation. The minimum qualifying amount varies depending on the location of the business or project to help stimulate job creation in targeted areas. If an EB-5 project is in a Targeted Employment Area (“TEA”) the qualifying investment amount is currently $900,000. Outside of a TEA, investors must contribute $1,8 million to obtain a Green Card.

Investment Fees
EB5-Visa Typical Costs
Paid To
Amount*
EB-5 Investment Amount (investment in Targeted Employment Area)
Invested in U.S. Entity
$900 000
Administration Fee
Investment issuer (Regional center)
$65 000 - $90 000
Legal Fees
Immigration Attorney
$20 000 - $40 000
Government Filing Fees
USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
~$7 000**

* As of July 2020

** Additional smaller USCIS processing fees may apply for dependents

The investment is required to be an “At-Risk” Investment in a US commercial enterprise. There can be no guarantee on the return of investment to the investor as it would disqualify them from obtaining a permanent Green Card. This does not mean that the EB-5 investment must be unnecessarily risky. Risk can be mitigated in a multitude of ways by the deal structuring of the EB-5 Investment Offering.

 
 

Benefits

Green Card

Green Card for the investor, his/her spouse and any unmarried children under 21

Path to US citizenship

Work & Travel

Ability to work, travel, and live anywhere in the United States

Permanent Resident

 Ability to enter and exit the United States as a permanent resident

Business

Ability to start a business anywhere in the US without immigration restrictions on the enterprise

Language

No language or professional experience requirements

Education

Key educational benefits for your children

 

EB-5 Visa Process and Timeline

Stage 1: Commencement of EB-5 Process

 

Duration: 1 – 3 months

Invest time to understand how the EB-5 process works. The entire process may take 5-7 years to complete so it’s important that you have a broad understanding of all the stages along the way and the timeframe involved. It is also important to gain an understanding of what is required from you as the process unfolds.

Make sure that you are comfortable with the project that you have chosen to invest in.

It is important to be aware of the tax implications of acquiring a Green Card. It is important that you work with the relevant professionals to structure your tax affairs accordingly before acquiring your Green Card. We are happy to connect you with the right tax professionals to assist you in this regard. It is important that you start the process of preparing your tax affairs as soon as possible.

 

If you plan to remit the funds from South Africa, make sure to start the process of applying for a Foreign Investment Allowance as soon as possible to avoid any potential delays in being able to remit the funds.

 

Select an immigration attorney who is experienced in the EB-5 process who will handle all of the legal filings to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) on your behalf. He will also assist you in preparing and filing the documentation to show that your investment funds are legitimate. We are well networked with some of the top EB-5 Immigration attorneys in the business and we will facilitate your introduction to an immigration attorney.

After your immigration attorney has completed the work surrounding your source of funds, he/she will give you the go ahead to transfer the funds to an Escrow account.

Once your funds have been sent, your attorney will be able to submit your I-526 petition to the USCIS. Approximately 10 days after submitting your I-526 petition, you will receive an I-797C receipt notice from the USCIS stating that they have received your case.

Stage 2: Waiting for your I-526 Application to be approved

 

Duration: 18-24 Months

This process varies in time and cannot be controlled. The wait time is not dependent on which project you subscribe to and the order of approval is not always completed in the exact order of when each person filed his/her I-526. You are not given any legal immigration status while you are waiting for your I-526 to be approved. If you are already in the US on an F-1 or H-1B visa you must renew it and maintain its validity if you want to remain in the US. Returning to your home country will not affect your I-526 petition while it is pending approval.

 

Once your I-526 has been approved:

 

If you are outside of the US you need to apply for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy/Consulate. It will take approximately 3-6 months to set up an appointment. At the appointment you will undergo a visa interview process with a consular official. This interview will include a review of documents, your medical examination, and a personal interview. After the interview you will receive an immigrant visa which will be affixed into your passport. You are then able to move to the United States. After you arrive your Green Card will be issued to you.

 

If you already reside in the US on a non-immigrant visa such as an H1-B or F-1 visa, upon I-526 approval your immigration attorney will file an I-485 for Adjustment of Status from your current non-immigrant visa to your lawful permanent resident status. It will take approximately 6-14 months until you receive your Green Card in the mail. While awaiting your Adjustment of Status you may be able to apply for an EAD work authorization and travel permit.

Stage 3: Receipt of Conditional (Temporary) Green Card

 

Duration: 2 years

 

The Green Card that you receive at this stage is temporary and is only valid for 2 years (Conditional Residency Period). In order to make your Green Card permanent at the end of this 2 year period you have to prove that you met the following 2 conditions:

  • You created 10 jobs with your investment

  • Your money was “at-risk” throughout the 2-year Conditional Residency period.

If you invested in a Regional Center project (96% of all EB-5 investments), you can rely on your Regional Center for having fulfilled these conditions. The USCIS deems you eligible to receive your money back at the end of your Conditional Residency period, so your money no longer needs to be kept “at-risk” once your conditional Green Card expires. Receiving the return of your investment depends on the project you have selected and its repayment terms.

Apply for Unconditional (Permanent) Green Card: I-829

 

Duration: 24 – 30 months

During the last 90 days of your 2-year Conditional Residency period your attorney will file your I-829 petition. You will remain in the US as a Green Card holder while your I-829 is being processed. Once you have completed your entire 2-year Conditional Residency period, you have completed the two-year at-risk requirements and are eligible to receive your investment back (prior to I-829 approval). Receiving the return of your investment depends on the project you have selected and its repayment terms.

Receive Unconditional (Permanent) Green Card once the I-829 is approved
At this point your EB-5 journey is complete. Once you have resided permanently in the US for 4 years 9 months (starting from the time you obtained your conditional residence status), you are eligible to apply for US citizenship.

Summary of Visa Process and Timeline
Stage 1

1 - 3 Months

  • Determine Eligibility.

  • Apply for Foreign Investment Allowance through SARS if you intend to transfer funds from South Africa.

  • Hire an immigration attorney.

  • Select Project.

  • Source of Funds Analysis – to be conducted by your immigration attorney.

  • Complete Investor documents and documents pertaining to your I-526 application.

  • Transfer EB-5 Investment into project Escrow account.

  • Your immigration attorney will file your I-526 application to USCIS.

Stage 2

18 - 24 Months

  • Upon approval of your I-526 application:

    • If you live outside of the U.S. - Apply for an immigrant visa at U.S. consulate/embassy.

    • If you already live in the U.S. – Apply for adjustment of status

  • Conditional Green Card issued (valid for 2 years) and you can live and work in the USA at this time if you choose.

    • Once you have received your Conditional Green Card, you must visit the U.S. at least once every 6 months.

Stage 3

24 - 30 Months

  • Once you have held your Conditional Green Card for 2 years:

    • Your immigration attorney will file your I-829 application together with proof that you have complied with all of the requirements of the EB-5 program.
       

    • At this stage your capital can be returned to you.

  • USCIS approves your I-829 application. 

    • Permanent Green Card is issued.

 

What We do

  • We select the best projects in the market that meet the requirements of the EB-5 program.

  • We guide you through the EB-5 Process.

  • As a South African based company, we understand the SA implications and can guide you accordingly.

  • We make sure that you are aware of all the implications from the outset before you even commence the process so that you can decide if the EB-5 is appropriate for your circumstances and plan accordingly.

  • We make sure that you have access to the top legal and tax professionals though our well established network of highly regarded legal and tax professionals both in South Africa and the USA.

  • We keep track of the progress of your case from beginning of the process to the end.

  • We are your local point of contact with a permanent office in South Africa.

 
 

Frequently asked questions

What is the EB-5 Visa?


An EB-5 visa is a US immigrant visa (meaning the acquisition of US permanent residency). Another name for a permanent residency visa is a “Green Card”. Green Cards are issued primarily through a lottery, Family-Based relationships, or an Employment-Based sponsorship. EB-5 stands for Employment-Based 5th Category Visa and is an immigration by investment program which leads to US job creation or “Employment”.




Who is covered by the EB-5 Investment Visa?


The investor, his/her spouse, and any unmarried children under 21. Provided that the applications for any children are filed before they turn 21, they will be fully covered after they turn 21.




Why do EB-5?


The EB-5 Investment Visa is the simplest, quickest and most reliable way to secure a Green Card compared to other visa options to the US. Your immediate family also gains the benefits of acquiring Green Cards as well as host of other benefits.




How does it work?


The investor must invest $1,8 million or $900 000 (if investing in a Targeted Employment Area “TEA”) and show that his/her investment has created 10 US jobs. The initial EB-5 Green Card is conditional and temporary. At the end of a 2- year conditional residency period, the investor must show that the investment was maintained and at least 10 jobs were created for the Green Card to become permanent.




How long does it take to get a Green Card?


  • It takes approximately 18-24 months from the date of submitting your application to receive your Conditional Green Card (I-526 application).
  • All of the key benefits of being a U.S. Permanent Resident listed above commence once you have obtained your Conditional Green Card.
  • Your Conditional Green Card is valid for 2 years. Prior to the end of the 2 year period you will apply for an Unconditional Green Card (I-829 Application).




Permanent Residence vs Citizenship


  • From the moment that you obtain your Conditional Green Card, you become a U.S. Permanent Resident.
  • A Permanent Resident has similar rights to a U.S. citizen with the major differences being the inability to vote, hold a U.S. passport or hold certain government jobs.
  • Should you wish to obtain U.S. citizenship you will be eligible after 5 years from when your Conditional Green card was issued, provided that you spend a minimum of 30 months in the U.S. and you have not been out of the U.S. for a single duration of more than 6 months during the period of 5 years.
  • Should you not wish to obtain citizenship you can remain as a Permanent Resident provided that you simply maintain your Green Card.




Maintaining your Green Card


Once your Conditional Green Card has been issued, you need to visit the U.S. at least once every 6 months in addition to other steps that you need to undertake in order to prove your ‘intent’ to reside in the U.S.




How do I prove source of funds?


It is crucial that the investor is able to provide documentary evidence to prove that the funds used to fund his/her EB-5 investment were obtained through lawful means. The source of the investment may include but is not limited to:

  • Salary
  • Dividends
  • Proceeds on the sale of property or shares
  • Gift
  • Loan
  • Inheritance




When will the Capital that I invested be returned to me?


  • The $900 000 can be returned to you once you have held your Conditional Green Card for 2 years (prior to the approval of your Unconditional Green Card).
  • Repayment usually takes place within 5-7 years from the date that you made the initial investment depending on the project that you selected and its repayment terms.




Tax Implications


  • You become a U.S. tax resident from the moment that you acquire your Conditional Green Card.
  • It is important that you work with the relevant professionals to structure your tax affairs accordingly before acquiring your Green Card. We are happy to connect you with the right tax professionals to assist you in this regard.




What is the EB-5 Regional Center Program?


Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program or “Regional Center Program” in 1993. The Regional Center Program sets aside EB-5 visas for investors who invest in a commercial enterprises structured by approved “Regional Centers” designated by USCIS to help promote economic growth.

The creation of the Regional Center Program allowed multiple investors to pool their capital for enhanced economic impact within a defined geographic area. This allows EB-5 investors to make a passive investment with Regional Centers who are authorised to receive and manage funds on behalf of EB-5 Investors.




What is the difference between investing through the EB-5 Regional Center Program or the Direct Approach?


In order to meet the requirements of the EB-5 Investment Visa, the investor has to invest in a project that creates at least 10 jobs for US workers.

A direct approach would entail investing the funds directly into one’s own business. The Investor would have to actively manage the business and directly hire 10 US workers. These employees’ jobs must be maintained full-time for at least 2 years. However this approach also comes with a large, costly regulatory burden to ensure that the business meets the strict regulatory requirements of the EB-5 program. It also means that the investor will have to spend most of his time in the US to prove that he is actively managing the business.

The other approach is an indirect approach or by making an investment through the Regional Center Program. This would entail investing in an ‘off-the-shelf’ investment project. This means that all of the financing and regulatory requirements are already in place. By investing in such a project, the applicant is able to rely on the indirect job creation method i.e. by taking the total jobs created (direct, indirect, or induced) over the lifecycle of the construction project and dividing it by the amount of EB-5 investors, there will be at least 10 jobs created per investor. In addition, many projects on the market have pre-approval from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) for having already met the requirements of the EB-5 program, including job creation. If the investor’s goal is to obtain a Green Card and not actively manage a business then this approach is cheaper, more convenient, and reduces the risk significantly.




What are the types of EB-5 Projects?


EB-5 projects assume many different business models and operate within many different industries. Types of EB-5 projects include: Mixed-use retail Hotels Sports stadiums Restaurants Agricultural developments, including wineries and farms Electric vehicle manufacturing Manufacturing Biotech and medical technologies Casinos Entertainment venues Convention centers Office buildings Most EB-5 investments tend to include real estate development because job creation is easiest to show via construction.




What is a Targeted Employment Area (TEA)?


A targeted employment area can be, at the time of investment, either:

  • A rural area; or
  • An area that has experienced high unemployment (defined as at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate). A rural area is any area other than an area within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.
A high-unemployment area may be any of the following areas, if that area is where the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business and the area has experienced an average unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate:
  • An MSA;
  • A specific county in an MSA;
  • A county in which a city or town with a population of 20,000 or more is located; or
  • A city or town with a population of 20,000 or more outside of an MSA. A high-unemployment area may also consist of the census tract or contiguous census tracts in which the new commercial enterprise is principally doing business, which may include any or all directly adjacent census tracts, if the weighted average unemployment for the specified area based on the labor force employment measure for each tract is 150% of the national unemployment average.
Source: USCIS




What is the role of No Borders in The EB-5 process?


No Borders has built its reputation over the last 9 years assisting hundreds of applicants from across the world to acquire foreign citizenship. You can rely on our integrity and expertise to safeguard your interests and safely guide you through the process of acquiring a Green Card through the EB-5 Investment Visa Program. About Us





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