Successful candidates for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program can easily forget that approval of their immigration application is only part of the process. Indeed, filing your I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not only the first step, but one of the most important steps in obtaining a U.S. Green Card, or immigrant visa. In short, filing an I-526 petition allows applicants to demonstrate the totality of their investment capital was legally acquired and has been invested, or is in the process of being invested into an accepted EB-5 project. After processing, USCIS will approve the I-526 petition, request additional information, or deny it.
If USCIS approves the I-526 petition, it is then submitted to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing and awaits a determination made by a U.S. Consulate officer abroad. In short, once the NVC determines the applicant’s file is complete, the NVC will send the file to the U.S. Consulate in the applicant’s home country, where an interview will be scheduled within 60-90 days.*
At this stage, the primary applicant should register for interview instructions and courier service through his or her U.S. Consulate. The applicant will receive instructions and a list of documentation they will need to bring to the U.S. Consulate interview—the documents will be returned to the applicant via the courier service provided. In addition to bringing necessary documents, there are a number of points the applicant must be aware of prior to the interview:
- An immigration lawyer should assist in preparing the applicant and dependents for the U.S. Consulate interview;
- The applicant and eligible dependents must bring all documentation required by the U.S. Consulate;
- The applicant should be familiar with the content of his or her I-526 petition;
- The applicant should be familiar with his or her approved EB-5 project;
- The U.S. Consulate will verify the application and all supporting documentation, so familiarity with the information is essential for the applicant to demonstrate consistency during the interview.
* It is important to keep in mind that applicants and their dependents are not guaranteed immigration visas until a U.S. Consulate interview is completed and assessed. More importantly, applicants should maintain their employment and ownership of real estate and/or businesses until an official determination is made.
The EB-5 U.S. Consulate Interview Process: Pre-Interview Criteria
First, the applicant and qualifying dependents must schedule and undergo a medical examination, (including vaccinations) by an authorized medical doctor in his or her country of origin. This must be done prior to scheduling an interview at the U.S. Consulate. Instructions for medical examinations are detailed in the instructions provided by U.S. Consular services, and should be followed accordingly. Failure to complete a medical examination or providing false information can lead to visa denial.
Second, applicants must gather all documentation required and listed by the U.S. Consulate. If an applicant forgets an item, he or she risks delay or denial of obtaining a visa.
Third, the applicant and all qualifying dependents must be present on the date and time specified by the U.S. Consulate. While dependents (spouses and unmarried children) may not be subjected to extensive questioning by a Consular officer, they must accompany the primary applicant and be prepared to participate in the interview process.
Fourth, applicants and their dependents must bring the interview appointment letter, photographs, valid passports, complete medical examination records, proof of financial support, original civil documentation (e.g. certified copies, certified translated material, and so on), and any other documentation that had not previously been submitted to the NVC to the U.S. Consulate interview. All documentation must be in its original form, and accompanied by a photocopy. The original documents will be couriered back to the applicant.
Fifth, if visa fees were not already paid to the NVC, applicants must pay them at the U.S. Consulate before their interview.
When it comes to you and your family’s EB-5 U.S. Consulate interview, preparing all the necessary documents and information ahead of time increases your chances of success for immigration. This includes both original and photocopied documents and having sufficient knowledge of what each document contains regarding your EB-5 Immigrant Investor application and I-526 petition (i.e. knowing the investment amount, source of funds, and the type of EB-5 project funded, and so on). Even more, making sure you follow the instructions provided by the U.S. Consulate will help decrease the chance of delay or denial of your immigration visa.
It’s important to note that the actual procedure for the EB-5 Consulate interview is submitting the required documents at the Immigrant Visa section in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence, where the applicant and family members then take fingerprints and stand a window to answer a Consular officer's questions for about 10 minutes. However, waiting times in between can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. While 10 minutes is not a great amount of time, you and your family’s U.S. Consulate interview determines whether or not immigration visas are issued.
In our next blog, we will discuss what you should expect at your EB-5 U.S. Consulate interview, such as the types of questions that will be asked by a Consular officer, important factors to remember during your interview, and the different types of situations that can impact your case for receiving an immigration visa to the U.S. —stay tuned!
For more information about the U.S. EB-5 Immigrant investor program, please click here.
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