EB-5 Timeline to Permanent Residency
*I-526 petition processing times for each Project do not guarantee that USCIS will adjudicate any specific I-526 petitions for each Project within any specific period of time. Moreover, processing time averages for each step change over time. Prospective investors must consult with their personal immigration attorney to understand fully the requirements, risks and processing requirements for any investment in an EB-5 project.
*However, if an investor's country becomes subject to a visa Backlog before the I-526 Petition is approved, he will not be able to file Step 3 (Adjustment of Status) until his priority date becomes current, which may take many additional years
No one can perfectly predict when the processing for various countries will go into Backlog (sometimes called, Retrogression)
The USCIS defines Retrogression here
Some industry experts think Backlog/Retrogression can happen within 2019 for countries like India, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, and others.
*If your I-526 is not filed AND approved by the time your country goes into a U.S. visa processing Backlog/Retrogression, your total time to obtain permanent residency could increase by many years
Depending on your country of origin, it may be important for you to note that projects with “Standard I-526 Processing” are not currently being processed quickly enough for the I-526 to be approved before many experts expect India, Brazil, South Korea, and other countries, to go into Backlog/Retrogression
An “Expedited I-526 Processing” project could be a solution for investors to get ahead of the Backlog/Retrogression
Consult with your immigration attorney to understand the risks for your country
How to Obtain Permanent Residence (Green Card) and Eventually Citizenship through the EB-5 Program.
There are four general steps that investors must complete to become U.S. permanent residents through the EB-5 visa program. Once these steps have been completed, EB-5 investors, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 become U.S. permanent residents. They will also have the option to apply to become U.S. citizens five years after obtaining their conditional permanent residency.
(1) To see processing times for standard I-526 processing as of today, visit the USCIS website here:
https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/ > Form (dropdown selection: I-526) > Field Office or Service Center (dropdown selection: Immigrant Investor Program)
- As of June 2018, the USCIS website shows I-526s are currently being processed from 25 months ago
(2) 21 months after an immigrant obtains his/her Conditional Permanent Residency, s/he can apply to remove the “conditions” on his/her green card. The investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can then permanently live and work in the United States. They will also have the option to become U.S. citizens five years after obtaining their conditional permanent residency.
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Step 1: Locate an Appropriate EB-5 Project
The EB-5 applicant must first find a suitable project to invest in. One of the most important factors regarding suitability is job creation in targeted employment areas. In finding a suitable project, Applicants must also ensure that they meet accredited investor requirements to move forward with the EB-5 process.
EB-5 PROCESS AND TIMING: STEP BY STEP
Step 2: Capital Investment and I-526 Petition
After choosing a project to invest in, the applicant should find a good immigration lawyer with significant EB-5 experience. Working with their immigration lawyer, applicants must document the lawful source of their investment funds and that they have made the the required minimum “at-risk” capital investment in the project. For projects situated in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), that amount is $500,000. The immigration attorney will be provided proof of the investment and the investor’s lawful source of funds and will use that proof, along with documents provided by the project showing the eligibility of the project, to file an I-526 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
As of June 2018, USCIS is processing “standard processing” I-526 petitions in between 20 and 25.5 months.
However, the Appalachian Regional Center's Tryon Equestrian Project has been determined by USCIS to be a special project worthy of “Expedited Processing” for the I-526 petitions associated with the project, because the project was determined to be in the U.S. national interest. As of June 2018, average processing times for Tryon investors have been 40-60 days.
* However, if an investor’s country goes into a Processing Backlog (also known as, Retrogression) before his I-526 Petition is approved, it may take many additional years before his next step (Adjustment of Status) can even be filed
- No one can perfectly predict when the processing for various countries will go into Backlog/Retrogression
- The USCIS defines Retrogression here
- Some industry experts think Backlog/Retrogression can happen as soon as Fall 2018 to Summer 2019 for countries like India, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan, and others. An EB-5 Project with Standard Processing may not be complete the I-526 processing before expected Backlog
* If your I-526 is not filed AND approved by the time your country goes into a U.S. visa processing Backlog, your total time to obtain permanent residency could increase by many years
- Depending on your country of origin, it may be important to note that “Standard I-526 Processing” projects are not currently being processed fast enough for the I-526 to be approved before some experts expect Backlogs for India, Brazil, South Korea, and Taiwan
- An “Expedited I-526 Processing” project could be a solution for investors to get ahead of the Backlog/Retrogression
- Consult with your immigration attorney to understand the risks for your country
Step 3: Two Year Conditional Permanent Residency
The third step of the EB-5 application process is for the applicant to become a two year conditional resident of the United States. EB-5 investors are eligible to apply to become U.S. residents once their I-526 petition has been approved by USCIS. Residency can be attained in one of two ways:
- If the EB-5 investor already has lawful non-immigrant status in the United States, then they may file form I-485 to adjust their status to conditional permanent resident. Upon approval of the I-485 application, the investor becomes a conditional resident as of the date of the approval.
- If the investor does not already have lawful status in the United States, they must proceed via consular processing. The immigrant visa application must be processed via the National Visa Center, and an interview will be scheduled at the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. Once the investor obtains a visa, and enters the U.S. with that visa, he or she becomes a conditional resident as of the date of entry.
Both of these steps require the help of an immigration attorney and the immigrant visa is issued, on average, in six to twelve months. During the two year conditional residency period, the investor is required to fulfill physical presence requirements, and typically cannot remain outside of the United States for more than one year without obtaining a re-entry permit.
Step 4: Unconditional Permanent Residency and the I-829 Petition
The final step in the EB-5 visa process is for applicants to remove the conditions on their green card by proving job creation and sustainment of their investment. The I-829 petition is submitted to USCIS during the 90-day window, prior to the second anniversary of the date that the applicant first received their conditional residency. This application proves that the investor has met all requirements of the EB-5 visa program. The investment fund is responsible for providing investors with the required proof that is used in the submission of the I-829 petition. Once an applicant submits their I-829 petition, their conditional green card is automatically extended in 12-18 month increments until the I-829 petition is approved. The investor, their spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can then permanently live and work in the United States and have the option to become U.S. citizens after a five year period from the date they received their initial conditional residency.