The process for immigrant investors can be intimidating. Terms like EB-5, USCIS, I-526, and “Green Card” are often unfamiliar topics to those who are not attorneys representing immigrant investors in international business deals. Below are answers to common questions asked by non-citizens interested in investing in companies in the United States.

What are key terms people would search for to find information online?

You can learn more by searching online for these terms:

  • EB-5
  • Immigrant Investor
  • I-526
  • Green Card

What must an immigrant investor prepare before an international business attorney can complete the application?

The required investment will be either US $1 million, or if the company invested in is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) $500,000. Once the required amount of funds are available our firm can assist them with all of the necessary documentation.

What is a typical timeline for the application process?

The time for completing the I-526 petition and all necessary documentation will vary, but it’s now taking USCIS 14 months or sometimes more to approve the petition.

What are the typical costs for an application process?

US $20,000 flat fee to prepare the I-526 petition and supporting documents; depending on the investment additional legal fees for drafting and reviewing documents for the investment itself; US $1,500 filing fee for the I-526 petition itself.

What is a typical example of an immigrant investor in this process?

The EB-5 program has been particularly popular with Chinese investors but is used by immigrant investors from other countries as well. Many of these immigrant investors have a spouse and/or children who will also qualify for a Green Card.

What are some common pitfalls or gotchas that could trip up an inexperienced attorney in this process?

First, given the amount of money involved it is critical to make sure that all of the documents are done correctly to protect the invested money as much as possible. It is also important to properly document the source and path of funds invested and draft a business plan that includes all of the specific information USCIS will want to see before it approves the petition.

Does an investor’s money need to be “at risk” or can it include a guaranteed return after some amount of time?

The EB-5 program requires the investment to be “at risk.” Careful consideration of the investment and drafting of the investment documents helps decrease the risk involved.

How many jobs must be created in association with the investment?

10 full-time jobs must be created for each EB-5 investor.

What information is needed for the business plan that is required by the EB-5 process?

The information required is like that of a typical business plan. USCIS specifically analyzes business plans under the standard outlined in an administrative law case called Matter of Ho, and for purposes of the I-526 petition, it’s best to organize the information and supporting documents under that standard.