What is an EB5 Visa
An EB5 visa is an immigrant visa which grants permanent resident status to investors who make a minimum investment by direct investment or in Regional Centers.
First launched in 1990, the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program was started to promote US economic growth through job creation and attracting foreign capital investment.
Benefits of EB5 Visa For Singaporeans
There are many benefits associated with an EB-5 visa granted to foreign investors. One of the main benefits associated with this visa is that you can acquire lawful permanent residency and eventually, US citizenship as long as you still meet the requirements.
Moreover, the EB-5 visa allows your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to go with you to the US and qualify for lawful permanent residency. Your children can have access to US education while your spouse can work anywhere in the US.
As compared to other investment-based visas, the EB-5 visa allows you to work in any lawful capacity and you don’t have to work for the company where you have invested in.
The visa also allows you to live and work anywhere in the US without the need to secure an employment authorization.
EB5 Visa Qualifications
Immigrant investors must meet basic criteria to be able to acquire an EB-5 visa. While there is no specific requirement regarding educational or professional experience, you must have a clean criminal record to be eligible for the visa. Minor infractions are also counted, so make sure that your criminal record is clean as a slate.
You must also have invested or are in the process of investing in a new commercial enterprise.
If you are not investing in the Regional Center Program, you must demonstrate that you are involved in the management of the company and in what capacity. Moreover, you must prove the lawful source of your funds.
EB5 Visa Requirements for Singaporeans
To be able to qualify for an EB-5 visa, here are the requirements that you must satisfy:
You must invest at least $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area or $1,050,000 in other areas. A Targeted Employment Area is defined as an area that has an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate, or a rural area, is an area not located within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and is not located within any city or town having a population of 20,000 people or more.
You must invest in a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE) or a Regional Center. A New Commercial Enterprise is defined as a for-profit business that’s formed to conduct lawful activities. Meanwhile, a Regional Center is a business entity that pools capital from immigrant investors to develop a project.
Your investment funds must be considered at risk and must be lawfully obtained. To be considered at risk, your investment must be subject to gain or loss and you are not guaranteed that the capital will be returned to you. This means that your investment funds must be spent and are not just sitting in your business account.
You must create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified US employees which must be done within 2 years after the approval of your visa. If you made a direct investment, only direct jobs count toward the job creation requirement but if you invested in a regional center, both direct and indirect jobs can count toward the requirement. Indirect jobs are jobs that are held outside the new commercial enterprise but are created because of it.
EB5 Visa Application Process
Since an EB-5 visa is an investment-based visa, it is required that the applicant must make either a direct investment or invest in a Regional Center. If you are opting to create a new enterprise, said enterprise must be for-profit and must be a corporation, joint venture, business trust, sole proprietorship, partnership or other publicly or privately owned structure.
Your investment may be in the form of cash, inventory, equipment or other property. Please take note that the value of the investment, determined by the fair market value, must meet the minimum investment required in the area where you have invested.
Consult with an immigration lawyer
To jumpstart your visa application process, we recommend that you first consult and hire an EB5 visa lawyer who can help you with your application.
An experienced immigration lawyer can properly guide you throughout the process, plan the best way you can structure your funds, instruct which relevant documents you will include in your application, and even advise you regarding where to invest and which investment option is best to meet the requirements of the visa.
The EB5 visa process can be complex and long, and your immigration lawyer can help you determine if this visa is the right option based on your financial and immigration goals, helping you prevent long waits while still attaining the same goals.
Choose your kind of investment
After you have consulted and hired an immigration lawyer, you now determine where you’ll invest. You have the option to either make a direct investment or invest in a Regional Center.
For direct investments, you have the option to purchase or invest in an existing business or start your own business.
Meanwhile, Regional Centers are businesses designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that gather capital from immigrant investors to develop large projects.
Create a comprehensive business plan
After you have chosen where to invest, it’s time to create a comprehensive EB5 business plan that shows what type of business you will be investing in, the amount of your investment funds, how many jobs you are projected to create, and other details.
Invest your funds
Once you have created your EB5 business plan, you will need to invest your funds. Please take note that you are not obligated to invest the funds.
The requirements provide that you are required to provide evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing funds in the business or regional centre. This allows you to transfer the funds into an escrow account, which makes the release of the funds conditional on the approval of your petition.
File Form I-526
After you have done the previous steps, it’s now time to file Form I-526 which is the initial form that must be filed for an EB-5 visa. Upon filing your petition, you must include the relevant and necessary documents to support your application. We have included the documents you would need to submit in this article.
The USCIS may approve, deny or request additional evidence. If they ask for additional evidence, this means that they need more evidence to clarify some things with your application.
There’s also a chance that the USCIS may issue a Notice of Intent to Deny, where you have missing evidence or your application needs further clarification but the USCIS is leaning to deny the petition.
If you don’t have a US immigration lawyer at this point, you may hire one immediately to help you prove your case with the USCIS.
Wait for your priority date to be “current”
Please take note that there are only 10,000 visas issued each year for the EB-5 visa with a set maximum visa per country. The USCIS regularly issues a visa bulletin regarding the priority date and cut-off date status per country, so your application must take note of it so you know if you can get your EB-5 visa already.
Apply for a conditional green card
Once your petition is approved and your priority date is current, you can apply for a conditional green card. There are two routes to acquire conditional permanent resident status, either through adjustment of status or consular processing.
If you are already lawfully present in the US under a valid visa, you can apply for an adjustment of status where you’ll file a Form I-485.
Meanwhile, if you are living outside the US, you will need to go through consular processing in the US Embassy or Consulate in your home country. You would need to submit a Form DS-260 and schedule an interview with a consular officer. Upon completion of your interview, you will then receive a visa to enter the US.
Filing Form I-829
After the 2-year conditional permanent resident status, you can have the conditions removed by filing a Form I-829 to become a lawful permanent resident. At this point, you are proving that you have met the requirements of the Immigrant Investor Program.
EB5 Visa Costs and Fees
Apart from the required minimum investment that you must make to be able to qualify, there are certain costs and fees that you must pay throughout your visa application:
- Form I-529 – $3,675
- DS-260 – $325, if applicable
- Form I-864 – $120
- Form I-485 – $1,140, if applicable
- Form I-829 – $3,750
- Biometric services – $85 per person
- Medical exams and vaccinations
- Legal fees, if applicable
- Translation fees
Documentation Singaporeans Must Have
As we have said, the submission of the relevant and supporting documents can make or break your visa application as the consular officer will use this as a basis of your qualifications for an EB-5 visa. During the filing of your Form I-526 petition, here are some of the documents you may need to submit:
- Your passport and a copy of it
- A copy of your birth certificate
- Your resume or CV
- Copies of all your diplomas, degrees, awards, and other professional certifications
- A copy of your marriage certificate, if any
- Your comprehensive business plan
- Your payroll records and list of employees with their corresponding job descriptions
- Articles of incorporation and business entity documents
- Business bylaws and shareholders list
- Individual tax returns within the past 5 years
- Bank statements before and after the investment has been made
- Source of your funds, which must be lawful or legal.
Please take note that the list above is not exclusive and you may need to submit additional documents depending on your circumstances. If you hire and consult with an experienced EB5 immigration lawyer, they can help determine the documents you would need to submit and thus help increase the chance of you getting approved.
Processing Time for EB5 Visa
The processing time for the EB5 varies depending on your country. Please take note that each country has different priority dates and cutoff dates, so there’s a chance that you might not receive your visa as quickly as others.
Moreover, as we have said, there are only 10,000 EB5 visas issued each year divided into all countries. There’s a chance that you won’t acquire the visa depending on the current cut-off dates.
The initial Form I-526 petition can take 47 to 71 months to process. A conditional green card can be received between 4 to 6 months depending on the US Embassy or Consulate handling your application, and 7 to 45 months depending on the USCIS service center if you are applying for an adjustment of status.
Meanwhile, the processing time of a Form I-829 is approximately 2.5 years.
Validity of your EB5 Visa
The EB5 visa is generally valid for 6 months, which means that you have 6 months to enter the US once the US Embassy or Consulate has issued your visa.
Meanwhile, the conditional green card will remain valid for 2 years, after which, you can have the conditions removed as long as you meet the requirements of the EB-5 visa.
Disadvantages of EB5 Visa
Like other visa classifications, there are associated risks and disadvantages to an EB-5 visa which you must know before you decide on getting the visa. Please take note that an immigration lawyer can properly help you determine which visa is the right one based on your financial and immigration goals.
One associated risk is that the conditional green card may not be converted to a permanent green card if you don’t satisfy the requirements of the EB5 visa.
Moreover, there is a clear financial risk as there’s a chance you can lose the entire amount you have invested. There are good projects under the EB-5 program, but there are also some that yield low returns.
The EB-5 visa also requires a large investment, even though it’s significantly lower when you invest in a Targeted Employment Area. No matter where you come from, you need to have enough financial stability to live comfortably, especially if you have a family, after your investment. Aside from this, there are also other fees and expenses involved in acquiring the EB5 visa.
Moreover, since there are only a limited number of Eb-5 visas available each year which means you need to wait a long time for your visa should the priority date or cutoff date for your country is not “current”.
What is a New Commercial Enterprise?
A New Commercial Enterprise is defined as a for-profit business that was formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful activities. Please take note that the activity that must be conducted in an NCE must be commercial and that most types of business entities qualify, whether it be sole proprietorship or limited or general partnerships among others.
What is a Targeted Employment Area?
A Targeted Employment Area is an area that has an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average unemployment rate, or a rural area, is an area not located within a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and is not located within any city or town having a population of 20,000 people or more.
What is a Regional Center?
A Regional Center is a business entity regulated by the USCIS that pools capital from immigrant investors to develop a project, usually hotels, resorts and other real estate projects. Moreover, they are required to promote economic growth and job creation.
EB5 Visa FAQs
What are some examples of a lawful source of investment funds?
One of the key requirements of an EB-5 visa is that the investment funds must come from a lawful or legal source. Some examples of this would be income from employment or the sale of a property, income from the sale of a business, a loan, an inheritance, or a gift among others.
Can I use a gift to fund my EB-5 visa?
Yes, money gifted to you can be used as your EB-5 investment. However, take note that the gift must already be in your possession before it’s invested in the business. Moreover, you still have to prove that the person who gifted the funds to you obtained such funds legally.
Can I invest other capital than money?
Yes, you can invest other capital such as inventory, equipment, cash equivalents or other tangible property to the EB-5 investment other than money. The regulations require investors to make an investment of “capital” in the business, which is not restricted to cash.
If I already have a business in the US, can I use it as my EB-5 investment?
Yes, you can use your existing business as your EB-5 investment provided that it meets all the requirements to be qualified under the visa.
Is there available updated data on the available visas connected to an EB-5 visa?
Yes, the Immigrant Investor Program Office (IPO) releases visa bulletin updates each month on the number of visas available.
Can I add another dependent family member when I file my Form I-829 to remove the conditions on my conditional green card?
Yes, if you wish to add another dependent family member when removing the conditions, you would need to submit an email to the USCUS and add to the subject line your request. From there, the IPO will send a cover sheet which must be sent back including:
- A copy of the receipt notice for Form I0829
- Form I-829 that shows the relationship between you and the family member
- Evidence of such a relationship
- Evidence that proves the identity of the family member
- Form G-28
- Biometrics fee
What happens if my Form I-829 petition is denied?
Once your conditional green card expires and you are not able to remove the conditions, the IPO will send a Notice to Appear. This means that you most likely have to leave the US.
If I bought an existing business with at least 10 employees, does it count towards the job creation requirement?
No, you will need to create an additional 10 jobs on top of the existing 10 jobs upon your purchase of the existing business. The lone exception is that if you invested in a troubled business.
A troubled business is defined as a business that’s been existing for at least 2 years and has experienced a net loss of at least 20% of its net worth for the 12-24 month period before the filing of Form I-526. In this case, the investor may count the jobs they are saving as part of the jobs they are required to create.