The EB-5 investor visa: What you need to know

You may be eligible for a green card if you invest enough money and create enough jobs.

business woman speaking to people seated at a table

What's Inside

What's Inside

The EB-5 investor visa is a program administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides a pathway to lawful permanent residence for certain immigrants and their families. Specifically, the EB-5 immigrant investor program allows qualifying foreign investors to become green card holders if they meet the qualifying criteria. 

If you’re a foreign investor, this article may help you better understand what an EB-5 visa is, the various investor visa U.S. requirements, how to apply, how much it costs and the EB-5 visa processing time. 

What is an EB-5 visa?

The EB-5 immigrant investor program was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy. Under the EB-5 program, foreign investors who help promote economic growth in the U.S. through capital investment and job creation may be eligible to become green card holders and lawful permanent residents

EB-5 visa eligibility

To be eligible for an investor visa, a foreign investor must meet two primary EB-5 visa requirements:

  1. Make a qualifying capital investment in a commercial enterprise located within the U.S.
  2. Plan to create or preserve at least 10 full-time employment positions for qualifying workers

Capital investment requirements

A foreign investor must make a qualifying capital investment in a commercial enterprise located in the U.S. and created after November 29, 1990. 

A commercial enterprise is defined as “any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business”. Qualifying commercial enterprises include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited and general partnerships
  • Holding companies and their wholly owned subsidiaries
  • Joint ventures
  • Corporations
  • Business trusts
  • Limited liability companies

Get the right lawyer for your immigration case

Schedule a free 15-min call with our team today.

Get started

Additionally, an investment in a commercial enterprise must meet a minimum investment value. For purposes of the EB-5 visa, capital includes any of the following: 

  • Cash
  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Other tangible property 
  • Cash equivalents
  • Indebtedness secured by assets owned by the foreign investor

The minimum amount of capital necessary to qualify someone under an EB-5 visa application is currently $1.8 million.

However, beginning October 1, 2024 and every five years thereafter, the qualifying investment amount will be automatically adjusted. This adjustment will be based on the U.S. city average cumulative annual percentage change in the unadjusted All Items Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). 

Job creation requirements

A foreign investor must be able to show that the commercial enterprise in which they’re investing will create at least 10 full-time job positions for qualifying employees. Independent contractors don’t qualify as employees for purposes of qualifying for an EB-5 visa. 

If the employees have already been hired, the applicant’s petition must be accompanied by documentation, such as photocopies of tax records or Form I-9s, confirming the existence of 10 qualifying employees.

If the employees haven’t been hired, the applicant must include a copy of a comprehensive business plan showing: 

  • There’s a need for at least 10 employees based on the nature and projected size of the commercial enterprise
  • Approximate dates, within the next two years, for when such employees will be hired

Requirements for targeted employment areas

The requirements for investments to commercial enterprises in targeted employment areas are slightly different.

For petitions filed on or after March 15, 2022, a targeted employment area is one that has been designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security as a “high unemployment area” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 203(b)(5)(B)(ii). A high unemployment area is one in which: 

  • The new commercial enterprise is principally doing business
  • The weighted average of the unemployment rate for the census tracts is at least 150 percent of the national average unemployment rate

If the commercial enterprise is located within a targeted employment area in the U.S., the amount of capital necessary to make a qualifying investment is only $900,000, as opposed to $1,800,000.

EB-5 investor visa: How to apply

To start the process of obtaining an EB-5 investor visa, you need to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor. Along with this, submit all evidence and supporting documentation necessary to confirm your EB-5 visa eligibility.

If your petition is approved, the next step depends on where you live.

  • If you currently reside in the U.S., you file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS and may need to attend an interview.
  • If you currently reside outside the U.S., you file Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, and attend an interview at a local U.S. consulate.

In either case, if your application is approved, you, your spouse and any unmarried children under 21 who’ve filed based on your application will be granted conditional permanent residence for a two-year period.

After completing the two-year conditional period, you may file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. This form must be filed within 90 days of the conditional green card expiration date. However, once your petition is approved and the conditions are removed, you and any dependents included in your application will receive lawful permanent resident status. 

EB-5 visa cost

In addition to the minimum capital investment ($900,000 or $1,800,000) in the qualifying commercial enterprise, there are other costs associated with the EB-5 visa application process. Currently, this may include:

StepType of FeeCost
Form I-526filing fee$3,675
Form I-485 (under age of 14 and filing with application of at least one parent)filing fee$750
Form I-485 (age 14 or older)filing fee$1,140
Form I-485 (age 14-78)biometric services fee$85
Form I-829filing fee$3,750
Form I-829 (filing alone)biometric services fee$85
Form I-829 (petitioner and up to five family members) biometric services fee$170 to $510

Get the right lawyer for your immigration case

Schedule a free 15-min call with our team today.

Get started

EB-5 visa processing time

The timeline for obtaining an EB-5 visa varies widely from case to case depending on the processing times for each of the underlying steps. 

For example, most Form I-526 petitions currently take between 55 to 84 months to process. However, the processing time to remove conditions on permanent resident status under Form I-829 is currently approximately 66 months. Thus, it often takes multiple years to gain lawful permanent resident status through an EB-5 visa. 

For the most updated information, you can check current case processing times for various applications directly on the USCIS website.

How a lawyer may help

If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible for an EB-5 investor visa or you don’t know where to begin, consider speaking with a lawyer. 

An experienced immigration attorney can help you: 

  • Determine if you meet the requirements
  • Understand your program benefits
  • Prepare your petition and any supporting documents
  • Ensure compliance with U.S. laws and regulations throughout the process

Share with

Bottom line

Our experienced team would love to help you move forward. Schedule a free 15-minute call so we can connect you with an experienced attorney.

Book a free call

Frequently asked questions

Who qualifies for an EB-5 investor visa?

In order to qualify for an EB-5 investor visa, you must make a qualifying investment in an approved commercial enterprise located in the United States. The current required minimum investment is $1.8 million, unless the commercial enterprise is located in a targeted employment area. In that case, the current minimum investment amount is $900,000. In addition to making a qualifying investment, an investor must also seek to create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

How much money do you need for an EB-5?

The total EB-5 visa cost varies depending on the particular circumstances of your case. Of course, the current qualifying investment of $900,000 or $1,800,000 is the most significant cost. However, there are other costs associated with obtaining an EB-5 visa, such as the filing fee (currently $3,675) for the Form I-526 to initiate the process.

How long does it take to get an EB-5 visa?

Current processing times for I-526 applications typically range from 55 to 84 months in most cases. However, even after your I-526 petition is approved, you must submit additional applications to obtain an EB-5 visa. Each of these may have lengthy processing times. Overall, the EB-5 visa processing time varies from application to application and may fluctuate from time to time.

Disclaimer: This article is provided as general information, not legal advice, and may not reflect the current laws in your state. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not a substitute for seeking legal counsel based on the facts of your circumstance. No reader should act based on this article without seeking legal advice from a lawyer licensed in their state.

This page includes links to third party websites. The inclusion of third party websites is not an endorsement of their services.

Share with

More resources