Investment Visa Lawyers in Seattle

Providing Guidance to Clients Interested in Residency Through the EB-5 Program

The immigration attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC explain how the EB-5 visa works, who can apply, and why hiring an attorney for the EB-5 application process may be the right choice. If you are interested in the EB-5 or have questions, contact the Stelmakh & Associates, LLC, office in Seattle at 206-558-6288.

What Is the EB-5 Visa Program?

The EB-5 visa program was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy by attracting foreign investors who invest in businesses or create jobs in the United States. The program is called EB-5 due to its classification as an Employment-Based Fifth Preference Visa. To apply for the program, foreign investors must meet specific eligibility requirements, including making an initial investment of at least $500,000 and keeping any profits from the investment in the United States.

In other words, the EB-5 Visa is a Green Card through investment because it provides a method of obtaining a Green Card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. Investors may become eligible for a temporary green card after two years. On average, there are 10,000 applications available annually, and about 5,000 of these are reserved for investments through regional centers.

Regional Centers are United States government-approved entities that promote economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment in a region. EB-5 Regional Center projects must meet the requirements set forth by USCIS. A regional center can be a public or private entity in the United States.

What Are the Investment Requirements for the EB-5 Visa?

EB-5 investors can come from any country outside the United States and can even include people who are in the United States legally under a temporary visa. In 2013, over 70% of all EB-5 investors came from China, the Middle East, and South America.

To qualify for an EB-5 Visa, an investor must invest at least $1,000,000, or $500,000, for a project in a TEA, which stands for Targeted Employment Area and consists of a high unemployment or rural area designated by the USCIS. The enterprise should create at least ten new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens and legal residents. If the project is an existing business, the ten new jobs must be in addition to the existing ones.

Initially, under the original EB-5 “Direct” Visa, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the EB-5 Regional Center Program, investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new or existing – “Troubled Business”) through 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.

As per federal guidelines, the EB-5 investment must be made “at-risk,” and any guarantee of return of capital is strictly prohibited. If given, the guarantee negates the” at-risk” requirement of the EB-5 law, and the investor’s petition will be denied. It is important to note that investment capital cannot be borrowed.

The success rate for the EB-5 is relatively high and generally depends on the investment type, personal situation, legal representation, and regional center. However, if you are considering an EB-5, you must consult an attorney before submitting your application.

What Are the Steps to Apply for an EB-5 Visa?

First, the EB-5 Visa Investor receives information on the EB-5 program, completes an Accreditation Questionnaire, and is given a Confidential Offering Memorandum describing the proposed investment project in detail. Then, upon acceptance of the project, the EB-5 Visa Investor signs the Subscription Agreement and other requested documents and provides financial background information.

Next, the EB-5 Visa Investor deposits US$500,000 in a secure escrow account and pays an administrative fee. Attorney Stelmakh then prepares and files the I-526 Petition. If the USCIS approves the I-526, the US$500,000 in the secure escrow account will be unconditionally released and invested into the Regional Centers development project. If USCIS denies the application, the total US$500,000 investment is promptly refunded from the secure escrow account to the investor.

Once the petition is approved, the applicant will receive a date for a consular interview in their home country. If the investor resides in the U.S., they may receive an adjustment of status. If all goes well, the EB-5 Visa Investor and family members may enter the United States to receive a conditional green card and are free to live anywhere in the United States with unrestricted travel and work rights. After two years, Attorney Stelmakh can file an I-829 Petition on behalf of her EB-5 Visa Investor to make the investor’s green card permanent rather than conditional.

Is the EB-5 Considered a Citizenship-By-Investment Program?

An EB-5 is not a citizenship-by-investment program. However, after five years of issuance of the conditional green card and maintaining the total investment in the Seattle Area Regional Center, the investor and family may apply for U.S. citizenship. Through this EB5 green card program, an EB-5 visa holder and their family may receive green cards and be able to live anywhere in the USA.

The EB-5 brings many benefits to eligible applicants. An EB-5 visa holder has the lifelong right to live and work in the United States without restriction, and their children may attend any school, college, or university in the USA. The EB-5 visa offers a relatively quick, sure, and painless path to permanent U.S. residency and citizenship.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Apply for an EB-5?

To ensure our EB-5 Visa clients attain their green cards in the safest and most efficient manner possible, the entire team of attorneys and professionals at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC oversees and coordinates the steps required to obtain an EB-5 visa, including the filing and preparing all documents. Attorney Stelmakh leads a team of exceptionally skilled corporate attorneys, business planners, economists, certified public accountants, and securities attorneys dedicated to making the EB-5 visa process easier and more efficient for all clients. Contact the Stelmakh & Associates, LLC office in Seattle at 206-558-6288 to learn more.

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