Frequently Asked Questions (EB-5)

BASICS of The EB-5 or Fifth Preference Immigrant Visa - Q&A.
Commonly referred to as the “One million dollar or half a million dollar U.S. green card.”

When did the EB-5 Visa program start?
The Basic EB-5 Program was first created by Congress in 1990

How does the EB-5 Visa program work?
It allows a foreigner who invests $1,000,000 (or $500,000 depending on the geographic area) and creates 10 full time permanent jobs to receive a temporary green card and after 2 years, eligibility to receive a permanent green card.

Where do I need to invest in order to qualify for the $500k investment threshold?
If your investment is in an area that is considered a Targeted Employment Area or a Rural area, then you qualify for the $500k threshold.

How do I know if it is in a Targeted Employment Area or Rural Area?
A targeted employment area (TEA) is defined as a rural area (defined by the Census Bureau as an area not within a metropolitan statistical area or not within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more) or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.

How do I show the area of my investment is in a TEA?
You need to submit a TEA designation letter to the USCIS.  You can try contacting the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS) office to obtain published technical bulletins; getting a letter from state government body to provide rural area or high unemployment area evidence; or providing other statistical documentation or you can contact the state government and get a letter from an authorized state government body stating that the location of the new commercial enterprise has been designated a high unemployment area.

Is the Regional Center Program a different visa category than the Basic EB-5 program?
No, the EB5 Regional Center program falls under the same EB-5 (Fifth Preference) Immigrant Visa and was established three years later after the EB5 Basic Program by the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State, the Judiciary and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, to allow immigrant investors to invest through designated regional centers thereby relaxing the job requirement by allowing indirect jobs to be counted towards the required “10 full time permanent jobs”.

I have seen the Regional Center Program being referred to as a "Piot" program. Is there more than one Regional Center Program created by USCIS?
No.There is only one EB5 Regional Center Program which was first established as a “Pilot” program which expired every three years.  On August 3, 2012, Congress removed the word “pilot” from the regional center program’s name.

If the Regional Center Program is not a "Pilot" program, is it now permanent?
No.The program expiration date is currently September 30, 2015 and it seems likely that the Regional Center Program will become permanent as part or prior to the U.S. Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Are there any special requirements besides having the $1M or $500k to qualify for the EB-5 visa?
Yes. You must establish that you lawfully acquired and legally own the $1M or $500k and you must either already be invested or be in the process of investing into a New Commercial Enterprise

What is a New Commercial Enterprise (NCE)?
USCIS defines a New Commercial Enterprise as a company that was formed after Nov. 29, 1990. See 8 C.F.R. section 204.6(e).

Does an investor need to establish this NCE?
No, not anymore. The investor need only to invest into a NCE to qualify for the EB-5 visa.

If an investor chooses to invest through a Regional Center, then the investment is going directly into the Regional Center?
Yes but sometimes the Regional Center provides this capital to another company and this recipient company must then create 10 full time permanent jobs as a condition to receiving the investor’s EB5 money.

When do the 10 jobs need to be created for the EB5 visa?
It is recommended that the jobs be created within the 2 year temporary or a conditional period of the investor‘s green card.

Can I include myself and my family towards the job count?
No. The investor and any member of the investor’s immediate family (spouse, children) CANNOT be counted towards the 10 Full time job count.

Do I have to be Actively involved in the day to day business of the EB5 Investment?
Yes or you would have to be involved in the a policy making activities of the company unless you invest through a Regional Center where you can take on a more passive role.

What is the Application Process for the EB-5 Immigrant Visa and is it different for Regional Center investors?
The general application filing procedure is the same for both individual EB5 investors and regional center investors.

Basically, each foreign investor must file an individual Form I-526. At the end of the 2-year period, if the conditions to the green card have been met, then the investor must file Form I-829. See chart below.


Stage 1: Collecting Evidence
Stage 2: Submit I-526
Stage 3: Fingerprint
Stage 4: Upon 526 approval file 485 or DS230/260
Stage 4: Upon 485 approval or entry into U.S. granted 2 yr residence
Stage 5: After 2 years, submit I-829 to USCIS
Stage 6: Upon Approval receives Permanent Green Card


TIME FRAMES (Based on current USCIS processing times) 

Stage 1 to Stage 2: about 2 months
Stage 2 to Stage 3: about 3 months
Stage 3 to Stage 4: about13 months
Stage 4 to Stage 5: two (2) years
Stage 5 to Stage 6: about 15 months

Does each family member file their own 526 application?
Answer: No.The spouse and children go under the investor’s I-526 application.

Are you required to invest in the state that you intend to reside within the U.S.?
Answer: No, if the investor invests through a Regional Center. For direct investors, they need to show that they are involved in the day to day activities of the business which may require them to live near the NCE or job creating business.

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For any additional questions/inquiries in regards to the I-526 and I-829 filing process, please email subject line: EB5 or call us to schedule an appointment at 1 (866) 526-1027.

Please Note:
Judy Chang Law Firm is not a securities licensed company and cannot recommend any particular regional center or recommend any EB5 projects for Investment Purposes.
Judy Chang Law Firm can assist clients with the immigration due diligence portion during the EB5 project selection phase and can refer an investor to highly qualified licensed investment advisors/brokers to help potential EB5 investors with the financial due diligence portion of an investor’s EB5 project selection process as well.

Siyuan Chang