Best Practices for Applying for an EB-5 Visa

by Calyn Ehid

Obtaining an EB-5 visa requires time and money. It also requires determination and adhering to a specific set of rules and regulations. More elaborately put, the EB-5 visa is granted to eligible non-U.S. citizens based on investments into a business on U.S. soil, which creates new jobs in a targeted employment area (TEA). The reward for approval begins with a two-year conditional permanent residency in the United States and, if seen to fruition, concludes with an eventual unconditional permanent residency therein.Visa Application

The entire EB-5 application and approval process can be broken down into four phases. The process is complex and can take years to even receive approval to begin, let alone complete. However, viewing the process as four segmented phases can help guide applicants through the best practices for applying for an EB-5 visa.

What Is an EB-5 Visa?

There are many visa types and ways to pursue the opportunity of American citizenship. The EB-5 provides applicants such opportunity through direct financial deposits into the U.S. economy and job market by investing a minimum amount into a qualified, U.S. business. This visa essentially asks applicants to prove their value to the Unites States through financial means. While this might appear unceremonious, the objective of the EB-5 visa is to create a win-win scenario.

Successful applicants receive unconditional permanent residency in the U.S., and the United States receives a boost to its economy and the creation of new jobs. There are 10,000 EB-5 visas accessible every year. While this might seem high, competition can be intense and regulations strict. The entire process can also take between three and four years to complete, so perseverance and discipline must be exercised.

Four Phases in the EB-5 Application Process

The first overall phase of the EB-5 application process is to choose an appropriate, qualified project in which to invest. Once the project is selected, the second phase is to actually make the required investment and submit an I-526 petition through the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The I-526 petition, or Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor form, displays an applicant has invested or is in process of investing in a qualified EB-5 project.

Phase three requires the I-526 petition being approved. Once it is, the two-year conditional permanent residency begins. Once the two-year conditional permanent residency is successfully completed, an I-829 form must be submitted. Submitting this form initiates phase four, which is the request to remove conditions from U.S. residency and be approved for unconditional permanent residency in the U.S.

Best Practices when Applying for an EB-5 Visa

While the EB-5 visa is based on financial investments, it does not mean simply having the money to invest assures qualification. There are two minimum investment amounts. A minimum investment amount of $1,800,000 (one million eight-hundred thousand) is required for qualified projects in the U.S. However, a lower minimum of  $900,000 can be required if the investment is made into a qualified project located in a rural and/or unemployment-riddled region.

The investment funds must also be clean. Money received via the sale or distribution of drugs or any other criminal activity does not qualify. The money can be gifted, inherited and or received from the sale of real estate. The most common reason for rejection is the inability to validate investment funds being earned in or received from a legal source.

It is also essential to perform due diligence when researching qualified investment opportunities. The EB-5 visa program is subjected to fraud on multiple levels. Not only do some applicants attempt to invest with monies obtained illegally, but some recipients of investment funds also attempt to defraud applicants.

During the two-year conditional permanent residency period, it is essential to obey all laws, as both a general rule and as specifically pursuant to the EB-5 visa requirements. Breaking certain laws cannot only result in disqualification, but also deportation.

Having a thorough understanding of all laws, rules, regulations and expectations is advised but not always possible. Qualifying for an EB-5 visa does not require applicants to speak English, meet any minimum education standards or have any current or prior business skills. This can make an already potentially confusing process even more confusing. Worse, it can cause mistakes resulting in the loss of investment funds and unnecessary disqualification. One of the best practices when applying for an EB-5 visa is to hire an immigration attorney.

Many internet browsers now feature translation technology. Applicants unable to speak English are able to take advantage of those features and use the internet to search for qualified lawyers. Immigration attorneys can be found online on such websites as and Green Card by Investment.

TEA Designation Rules

A Targeted Employment Area (TEA) is either a rural area of the U.S. or an area experiencing unemployment higher than average. The dual purpose of investing into a project located within a TEA is to create jobs in the targeted area and boost the economy both locally and nationwide. Projects (business ventures) are expected to create a minimum of ten new U.S. full-time jobs.


EB-5 applications can be backlogged causing delays in responses potentially devastating to the perseverance of applicants. Eligible applicants come from any country having diplomatic relations with the United States. Sometimes those relations are strained, leading to delays in visa processing. EB5FAST is an organization specializing in the expedition of EB-5 visa requests. If brevity is of chief concern, connections through EB5FAST are available for potential assistance.