Q: What is a USCIS EB-5 Regional Center?
A: An EB-5 Regional Center is an entity, organization or agency that has been approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor EB-5 Projects focused on a specific geographic area within the United States and promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment.
Q: I want to invest and apply through the EB-5 program for a green card, is this the right visa for me and my family?
A: An EB-5 investment visa is suitable for a variety of individuals, including professionals, business persons, persons wanting to help their children attend U.S. universities, persons interested in immigrating to the United States, and persons interested in retiring in the United States.
Q: Who is eligible to make an EB-5 Investment?
A: Foreign nationals who have made an EB-5 investment or are actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise as according the EB-5 regulations are eligible to apply for an EB-5 green card. The prospective investor must document that the capital was legally earned and satisfies general eligibility requirements (e.b. medical, criminal).
The investor’s spouse and minor children (under 21) also qualify. The age of the minor children is “frozen” at the time of the I-526 application so, for example, a 20 year old dependent is not in danger of “aging out” during the process.
Pine State Regional Center’s preferred immigration counsel will assist in ensuring that a prospective investor meets the requirements for the EB-5 program.
Q: What is meant by Direct and Indirect Jobs?
A: Direct Job Creation – Are jobs created through an employer-employee relationship between the newly established commercial enterprise and the persons that they employ.
Indirect Job Creation – Are the jobs held by persons who work outside the newly established commercial enterprise. For example, indirect jobs include employees of the producers of materials, equipment and services that are used by the commercial enterprise. There is also a sub-set of indirect jobs that are calculated using economic models that are known as induced jobs. Induced jobs are those jobs created when direct and indirect employees go out and spend their increased incomes on consumer goods and services.
Most Pine State Regional Center projects utilize indirect job creation, which includes jobs directly created by the job-creating entity, and indirect and induced job creation as a result of the increase in economic activity to meet EB-5 requirements. Pine State Regional Center utilizes experienced EB-5 economists to create comprehensive economic analysis detailing indirect job creation.
Q: Do I need to speak English?
A: No. However, if the investor does not speak English, the investor should obtain the services of a translator (friend, attorney, family member) to read our materials and contact our office for additional information.
Q: Can I travel with a green card?
A: A conditional or permanent resident is entitled to travel freely for less than 6 months at a time outside of the United States. If such an individual needs to be outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months, he/she may apply for a travel permit. This travel permit establishes that the resident is not abandoning U.S. residency, despite the extended absence. However, time spent outside of U.S. is counted against the physical presence requirement for citizenship.
Investors with particular immigration concerns should contact immigration counsel to discuss further.
Q: Must I be in good health to apply for a green card?
A: Yes. You must submit to and pass a health screening as part of the consular review process before a conditional EB-5 Visa is granted.
Q: Who may receive permanent residence (“green card”) through my investment in the EB-5 program?
A: The principal investor and his or her immediate family members (husband, wife and any unmarried children under the age of 21) may receive permanent residency. It is also possible for adopted children to be included in the immediate family designation; however such issue must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: How may immigrant visa are allotted for this classification?
A: Currently, the EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas per year for the EB-5 investors and their immediate family members.
Q: What is the difference between “conditional” and “unconditional” green cards?
A: Under the regulations, an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa initially receives a “conditional” green card. After the conditions are removed, by demonstrating that the investment was made and the jobs have been created using I-829, the investor will receive an unconditional green card that must be renewed every 10 years, or the investor may apply for U.S. Citizenship, if certain criteria are met.
Q: What must Regional Centers demonstrate to lift the “conditions” of the investor at the I-829 stage?
A: The Regional Center and the EB-5 investor must demonstrate, using reasonable methodologies, that 10 or more jobs are actually created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise through revenues generated from increased exports, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment resulting from the project developed through the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program
Pine State Regional Center will work with the investor and preferred immigration counsel to properly submit the I-829 to USCIS.
Q: If my I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, what is the purpose of the consulate application and interview, and how soon do I get my “green card”?
A: Upon approval of the I-526 Petition, you may need to wait for notification from the U.S.Consulate in your home country to prepare documents for the visa interview. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that the investor and his or her family undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks before the conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consulate officer may address these issues and information printed on the I-526 application, including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his or her immigrant investment. If the investor and his or her family are in the United States, then the investor may apply for adjustment of status by filing form I-485, and supporting documents, the application may be filed at the appropriate office of the USCIS.
Q:Can I apply through the EB-5 Program, even if I have been rejected for a visa in the past by USCIS?
A: If you have previously been rejected or denied a visa, this will not necessarily disqualify you, unless the reasons are related to fraud or other major problems. However, if you have been denied a visa in the past, it is very important that you disclose all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration history problems to the limited partnership and legal preferred counsel in advance of the application.
Q: What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship?
A: Once you obtain a green card, and become a legal permanent resident, you have most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote and are not entitled to some public benefits and it is possible to lose your permanent resident status. As a permanent resident, you are subject to the same tax filing requirements and entitled to the same tax rates and deductions as U.S. Citizens. Your “green card” is your most important travel and identification document.
One of the most important rights legal permanent residents possess it the right to obtain U.S. citizenship after 5 years. Being a legal permanent resident for 5 years is one of the basic requirements for qualifying for naturalization. A second requirement is being physically present in the U.S. for 30 months during the 5 years prior to the naturalization application. Once becoming a U.S. citizen an individual is entitled to all U.S. citizenship benefits including the right to vote and hold public office.
EB-5 Investor Questions
Q: Must I have previous business experience or education to invest in an EB-5 project?
A: No. An investor is not required to have any prior business experience when investing in an EB-5 project. Likewise, the investor is not required to demonstrate any minimum level of education. The only requirement for the investor is that he or she has the required net worth and capital and can prove that the funds are legal.
Q: What is the most common reason for rejection of an EB-5 visa application?
A: In most cases when an EB-5 visa application is rejected, the applicant failed to demonstrate that he/she had legally earned the investment capital.
Q:What is the amount of required capital needed to invest in a Pine State Regional Center EB-5 project?
A: Currently, Pine State Regional Center EB-5 Projects are in “targeted employment areas” with a minimum capital requirements of $500,000.
Q: What is the likely return on my $500,000 of capital?
A: The law states that the $500,000 must be “at risk”, and that providing a guaranteed minimum return and/or a guaranteed return of investment funds does not meet the requirements of the law and is expressly prohibited. Any guarantee by any regional center would invalidate the EB-5 visa petition.
Q: What is meant by the requirement that the investor’s assets be “lawfully gained”?
A: Under USCIS regulations, the investor must demonstrate that his assets were gained in a lawful manner. This requires the investor to prove his investment funds were obtained through lawful business, salary, investments, property sales, inheritance, gift, loan or other lawful means.
Q: Can money gifted by a parent or other relative be used for an EB-5 Investment?
A: Yes, provided that any applicable gift taxes are paid. It must be demonstrated that the gift is an actual arms length transaction and is not a mere ruse or that the gifted funds will be given back after permanent resident status is granted.
Q: How does the bank escrow account protect me against the risk of losing my money?
A:The initial cash deposit from the investor is placed in an Escrow Bank account. This account serves to keep the investor’s money protected and separate until the I-526 Petition is approved. While the funds are held in escrow, the funds continue to belong to the investor; however, they are committed to be placed into the investment upon petition approval. The attorney or bank has an agreement with the investor that required the funds to be released from the account only when the petition is approved by the USCIS. The funds are deposited pursuant to a Private Placement Memorandum and Subscription Agreement.
Q: If I get a green card, do I have to live in the United States?
A: Yes, an applicant for conditional or permanent residence to the U.S. must intend to immigrate to the United States and maintain their primary residence in the United States.
Q: Do I have to stay in the U.S. once I receive my EB-5 visa?
A: No. As a permanent United States resident, you will be able to travel freely within and outside of the United States. However, you must stay in the United States for certain periods of time to maintain permanent residency status.
Q: Can I sponsor my 21 year old or over child?
A: While a child who is 21 years old, or more, cannot apply for residency under the parent’s immigrant investment application, a parent may gift that child the required investment funds in order for the child to apply individually as an immigrant investor.
Q: After I-526 petition approval, can members of the same family interview in different countries?
A: Family members can be interviewed in different countries. The country of origin or where the family has current ties is the standard interview site. Often one member of the family is located in another country, such as a student attending school in the United States. The student may not have to return to the country of origin and can adjust status in the United States at the district office of the USCIS.
Q: What if I am already in the United States on another visa status when the I-526 petition is approved?
An individual may file an I-526 petition if they live abroad or are already in the United States. If, however, you are already in the U.S., after the I-526 is approved, you may then be able to file an I-485 Application for Adjustment of the Status to Permanent Resident, as opposed to filing for a visa with your local U.S. consulate. Of course, if you are not yet in the U.S., you must file for an immigrant visa with your local U.S. consulate.
Q: Will my investment in a Regional Center EB-5 Project be returned if my application is denied by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?
A: Yes. Pine State Regional Center has created an escrow account in which your investment is frozen until the I-526 application is approved by the USCIS. In the event that your application is denied, your investment will be returned to you in full minus certain administrative expenses.