EB-5 programme the fastest way to secure US citizenship

EB-5 programme the fastest way to secure US citizenship

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme provides foreign nationals with an opportunity to obtain US permanent residency (a green card) for themselves and their immediate family members in return for investing in an American business that creates new jobs.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme provides foreign nationals with an opportunity to obtain US permanent residency (a green card) for themselves and their immediate family members in return for investing in an American business that creates new jobs.

The expected investment must lead to the creation of at least ten American jobs per investor and in return, his or her spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 may become eligible to receive permanent US green cards, to live and work anywhere in the United States.

India being a developing country, holds the potential to harvest out of such opportunities, as there are many advantages with EB-5 – lower college tuition fees, travel privileges (making it your second home to fly back to without visa), work authorisation across the US, social security (you may receive retirement benefits), access to Medicare (after a five year stay in America, the government offers benefits for individuals aged 65 and above), residence flexibility, no need to review ‘green card’ and permanent status.

Direct Investment Immigration Programme

For this programme, three basic requirements must be met - investment in a new business; investment of at least $1 million or $500,000 in certain cases; creation of employment for at least 10 full-time US workers. The investment may consist of various forms of capital, such as cash (including a gift or loan), equipment, inventory, property, and other tangible equivalents.

An investment amount of $1 million is generally the minimum. However, $500,000 is acceptable if the business is situated in a ‘targeted’ employment area, i.e., one that has experienced unemployment of at least 150 per cent of the national average rate or a rural area.

The requirements for Regional Centre investment are essentially the same as in the direct EB-5 programme. EB-5 Investment Immigration Regional Centres are entities, organisations or agencies that focus on a specific geographic area within the United States in order to promote economic growth in the region.

Most Regional Centres are in targeted employment areas, i.e., areas that have an unemployment rate that is at least 1.5 times higher than the national average. Investment Immigration Regional Centres are designated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). The Centres do not guarantee profit or the return of an investor’s principal investment.

Benefits of using Regional Centre Investment Programme

Generally, less up-front investment capital is needed ($500,000 vs. $1 million USD). No day-to-day management required. The jobs created from the investment can be direct or indirect. The investor can live and work anywhere in the US. The investor can be retired.

EB 5 Visa Process

The investor submits an I-526 application, accompanied by 5 years of tax returns to substantiate the source of investment funds. The funds can be the investor’s own money or in the form of a loan not secured by the EB-5 investment or a gift, which would allow a parent to gift the funds to a son or daughter. Gift taxes, if required in the investor’s home country, must be paid.

The investor must also present evidence, through bank transfers and other financial documentation that the invested capital came directly from the investor to the EB-5 office. The I-526 will be accompanied by all the other documentation to fulfill the requirements of the petition.

After the investor completes their due diligence on the EB-5 project or business, the investment is made, and an investor I-526 petition is filed with USCIS, requiring USCIS to certify that the applicant and the investment are eligible for EB-5 status. The approval of the I-526 petition takes from 16-18 months. Once USCIS approves the investor’s Green Card, it is conditional for a period of 24 months (two years). Conditional Green Card status confers the same rights as the permanent unconditional Green Card.

Between 21-24 months after the conditional Green Card has been approved, the investor must reconfirm that the investment has been made or is still in place and that the employment requirement has been fulfilled or maintained. An application to remove the conditional Green Card status is filed with USCIS. The investors’ conditional green card status is automatically extended while the I-829 Removal of Conditions Application is pending.

Once the condition has been removed, an unconditional Green Card is granted for permanent resident status in the United States. From the time of application for the conditional Green Card until approval of the Removal of Conditions, the time frame is approximately five years.

Thereafter, in approved Regional Centre programmes, depending on the terms of the agreement, the investment may be sold, and the investor will maintain the permanent Green Card. US Citizenship is possible approximately two and a half years later (a total of five years after approval of the conditional Green Card), upon satisfaction of US residency and other requirements.

Path to US Citizenship & Return of Capital

Once an investor receives their permanent Green Card, they are generally then eligible for return of their invested capital assuming the EB-5 loan has been repaid by the borrower. Every Regional Centre project is going to have an exit strategy, meaning, how they are going to return investor funds back to the EB-5 investors.

BY Bhaskar Chilukuri

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