The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is a popular route to U.S. permanent residency through investment. The first step in the application process is filing Form I-526, Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. The purpose of this petition is for the EB-5 investor to demonstrate that they have invested, or are in the process of investing, the required capital into an acceptable EB-5 project. The investor can either directly invest into a new commercial enterprise, or invest through a government designated EB-5 Regional Center which administers EB-5 projects.
The EB-5 investor must provide evidence that the US$500,000 or US$1 million, depending on whether the business is located in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), has been invested in an eligible enterprise. One of the main purposes of the I-526 petition is for the investor to prove that the capital used for investment comes from a lawful source of funds. The EB-5 applicant must provide documentary evidence tracing the funds from their source, and proving that each dollar used was legally obtained.
The EB-5 applicant must also demonstrate that the required investment will lead to the creation of full-time jobs for a minimum of 10 qualified U.S. workers.
How do I file the I-526 petition?
In general, I-526 petitions are filed by immigration attorneys or representatives and are submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) California Service Center. The fee for filing the I-526 petition is currently US$1,500; however, it is subject to change. The USCIS will return any application that does not include the correct filing fee. Processing of the I-526 petition is currently taking 5-10 months. Once this step is complete and the petition is approved, EB-5 applicants can apply for conditional U.S. residential status.
Can I travel while my I-526 petition is being processed?
As the I-526 petition is evidence that you intend to immigrate to the U.S. permanently, it will be very difficult to obtain a non-immigrant visa to the U.S. once your form is filed. You may be able to travel on a previously obtained visa, however, you may receive additional inspection at the border, or be denied entry altogether if the border officer is concerned about your immigration intent. While there is no prohibition against traveling in and out of the U.S. during the processing of your I-526 petition, it is recommended to avoid it since you may encounter difficulties with border officers and they have complete discretion to refuse admission. Once your conditional green card is received, you can then leave and re-enter the U.S. without issue.
If you must travel to the U.S. while your I-526 is being processed, you should provide a return ticket as well as strong proof of ties to your home country. Even with all the correct documents, however, there is never a guarantee of admission at the Port of Entry.
What happens after submitting my I-526 petition?
After filing your I-526 petition, one of three outcomes may occur.
The best-case scenario is that the USCIS approves the I-526 petition. Once approved, you may apply for your conditional U.S. visa at the U.S. Consulate in your home country. If you are already in the U.S., you may apply for an adjustment of status by filing form I-485.
The second outcome is that USCIS issues a request for additional evidence in response to your I-526 petition. This request essentially means that insufficient evidence was provided with your application, and additional documents are required in order to make a final decision. The request will specifically list the additional documents required as well as indicate a deadline for when the additional information must be submitted. Failure to submit within the deadline will result in petition refusal. With the new documents, USCIS will review the file and will either approve or deny the petition.
The third possible outcome is that USCIS denies your I-526 petition outright, without any request for additional information. The denial notice will explain the reasons for refusal. If this situation occurs, a new I-526 petition can be filed; however, the issues for denial must be addressed in order to avoid another denial.
The current EB-5 Program has been extended to December 9th 2016. Investment amounts and filing fees are likely to increase thereafter. Take advantage of this short-term extension by filing your application today.
For more information on the U.S. EB-5 Investor Visa Program, please click here.
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