1. What role does AMERICAN EB-5 CENTERS play in EB5 immigration?
    • AMERICAN EB-5 CENTERS offers eligible investment opportunities to those who choose the EB-5 immigration path.
  2. How is the investment structured?
    • American EB-5 Centers uniquely presents a broad range of investment options to suit your needs and expectations. We offer both Regional Center applications and direct “one off” investments.
  3. Who is eligible?
    • Permanent resident status is available to the investor, spouse, and unmarried children under the age of 21 (as of the date of application).  Eligible foreign nationals are those investing the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise, established under the $1,000,000 green card program, or through a $500,000 investment via a regional center. The prospective investor must document that the capital was legally earned.  The regional center must demonstrate that the investment will benefit the United States economy and create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified persons within the United States.
  4. What is meant by Direct and Indirect Jobs?
    • Direct jobs necessitate a relationship between employer and employee.  Indirect jobs are retained by people working outside the newly established commercial enterprise, such as employees of the producers of materials, equipment, and services that are used by the commercial enterprise.
  5. Do I need to speak English?
    • It is not a requirement.
  6. Can I travel?
    • A conditional or permanent resident is entitled to travel freely outside of the United States for less than six months at a time. If such an individual needs to be outside of the U.S. for more than six months, he/she may apply (up to three times) for a travel permit, which is valid for two years.  A travel permit indicates that the resident is not abandoning U.S. residency; however, time spent outside of the U.S. counts against the 30 month physical presence requirement for citizenship.
  7. Must I be in good health?
    • Yes, you must pass a health screening as part of the Consular review process before a conditional EB-5 Visa is granted.
  8. How long does USCIS take to process the visa petition?
    • Processing times vary considerably depending on the backlog of the processing center and the complexity of the petition. The average processing time is three to six months, but in some cases, the process may take over one year.
  9. What is Section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act?
    • Congress created this immigrant visa category in 1990 to encourage foreign investment in the United States. The program, commonly called the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program, allows foreign entrepreneurs to invest either $1 million or $500,000 in a new United States business, thereby creating a minimum of ten full-time jobs.
  10. How do I seek status as an immigrant investor?
    • In order to seek status as an immigrant investor, you must file CIS Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.  Form I-526 must be filed with supporting documentation, clearly demonstrating that the individual’s investment meets all requirements.  Requirements include establishing a new commercial enterprise; investing the requisite capital amount; proving the investment comes from a lawful source of funds; creating the requisite number of jobs; demonstrating that the investor is actively participating (when required) in the business; and, where applicable, creating employment within a targeted employment area.
  11. What is the pilot program?
    • The pilot program allows immigrant applicants to file a petition with the USCIS for a new business within a designated regional center, by filing within a regional center’s project area. The business owner must prove that ten indirect jobs are created as a result of the new business’ operations. The business owner does not have to directly hire ten employees or have direct involvement in daily business.
  12. How many immigrant visas are allotted for this classification?
    • The EB-5 program allots 10,000 visas per year for aliens and family members whose qualifying investments result in the creation or preservation of at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
  13. What is the difference between “conditional” and “unconditional” green cards?
    • Under the regulations, an investor who is approved for the EB-5 immigrant visa receives a conditional green card, which must be reissued after two years, subject to removal of conditions. Otherwise, the two cards offer the same rights and privileges.  After the two year conditional period, there is a three month window during which an individual must file another application with the USCIS to verify that all of the funds have been invested, and that the required employment has been created. When the conditional resident status has been lifted, full resident status is granted, and a permanent green card is issued.
  14. What must the regional centers demonstrate to lift the conditions of the investor at the I-829 stage?
    • The regional center must prove that ten or more jobs have been created, either directly or indirectly, by the new commercial enterprise through revenues generated from increased exports, improved regional productivity, job creation, or increased domestic capital investment resulting from the project developed through the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program.
  15. If my I-526 petition is approved by USCIS, what is the purpose of the consulate application and interview, and how soon do I get my green card?
    • Upon approval of the I-526 Petition, you must wait for notification from the U.S. consulate in your home country to prepare documents for the visa interview. The procedure ensures that the investor and his or her family undergo medical, police, security and immigration history checks before the conditional permanent resident visas are issued. At the interview, the consulate officer may address these issues and information printed on the I-526 application, including asking the investor to summarize the nature of his or her immigrant investment.  If the investor and his or her family are in the United States, then the investor may apply for adjustment of status by filing form I-485, which may be filed at the appropriate office of the USCIS.
  16. Can I apply if I have been rejected or terminated in the past by USCIS for an L-1, E-2, B, or other visa?
    • Previous rejection does not disqualify an applicant; however, all criminal, medical, or U.S. immigration issues must be disclosed to the limited partnership and legal counsel prior to submission of an application.
  17. What is the difference between permanent residency and citizenship?
    • Once you obtain a green card and become a legal permanent resident, you have most of the rights and obligations of U.S. citizens, except that you cannot vote and are not entitled to some public benefits. You are subject to the same tax filing requirements, tax rates, and deductions as U.S. citizens. Your green card is your most important travel and identification document. When your green card arrives, please look at it carefully. You may need to extend it in ten years. If you need to replace it, you may do so by filing a form with the USCIS.  One of the most important rights legal permanent residents possess is the right to obtain U.S. citizenship after five years. The first step in becoming a U.S. citizen is to gain status as a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) for a period of five years and to be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months during the five years prior to the naturalization application. Once becoming a U.S. citizen, an individual is entitled to all U.S. citizenship benefits, including the right to vote and to hold public office.
  18. Do I have to personally manage the new enterprise to qualify for my visa?
    • No, investments in a Regional Center are passive and do not require an active management role.
  19. Must I have previous business experience or education?
    • The investor is not required to have any prior business experience or a minimum level of education. The only requirement for the investor is that he or she has the required net worth and capital and can document that the funds are legal.
  20. What is the most common reason for rejection of an EB-5 visa application?
    • The most common reason for rejection of an EB-5 visa application is that the applicant failed to prove that he/she legally earned the investment capital.
  21. What is the amount of required capital for participation for a Regional Center program?
    • As long as the Regional Center operates within a targeted employment area as defined by the USCIS, the legal capital requirement is $500,000.
  22. What is the likely return on my $500,000 of capital?
    • The law states that the $500,000 must be “at risk”, and that providing a guaranteed minimum return of investment funds is expressly prohibited. Any guarantee by any regional center invalidates the EB-5 visa petition. We have designed several projects which have minimum risk factors including under valued commercial Real Estate properties not requiring the multitudes of investors to commence your processing for Green Card.
  23. What is meant by qualifying investment “capital?
    • The regulations define capital as cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents, and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur.  A debt qualifies as capital only when the alien entrepreneur is primarily and personally liable for the indebtedness.
    • This rule allows bank loans and provides greater flexibility for the investor, who may have assets that are not immediately available for investment in an immigration program.  In this case, the investor must demonstrate to the bank a total net worth of at least US$500,000 that will meet the standard requirements of the bank for financing. This may include real estate, ownership of business assets, cash, stocks, bonds, and other assets located inside or outside the United States.
  24. Does investing in a TEA mean taking more investment risk?
    • Understanding the unique characteristics of the particular sub-market is paramount to assessing the risk of making any real estate investment, particularly one within an area that, by definition, has experienced higher than average rates of unemployment or a Targeted Area which does include many areas of interest and metropolitan regions.
  25. What is meant by the requirement that the investor’s assets be “lawfully gained”?
    • Under USCIS regulations, the investor must demonstrate that his assets were gained in a lawful manner. This requires the investor to prove his investment funds were obtained through lawful business, salary, investments, property sales, inheritance, gift, loan, or other lawful means.
    • For the Regional Center investor, however, the law does specifically allow that an investor will qualify as a “limited partner” as defined in the Revised Uniform Limited Partnership Act if the project meets all the regulation requirements by enrolling the investor in the investment as a limited partner. This role allows the investor to continue to engage in their own business without participating in the investment operations. Additionally, this allows the investor to live where he pleases, and gives him the option to enter and exit the United States without any obligation to manage the investment. Most importantly, the limited partner, like the corporate shareholder, is only liable to the enterprise to the extent of the agreed-upon investment.
  26. What corporate structures are used in the EB-5 Program?
    • Corporation: formed by filing a charter with a state government owned by shareholders. The corporation is taxed on its income. The shareholders are only taxed on dividends paid to them by the corporation. Shareholders do not pay tax on the corporation’s income. The shareholders only risk the cost of their investment in the corporation. They bare no responsibility for the general affairs of the corporation.
    • Partnership: is comprised of two or more people or entities coming together for an enterprise, without any particular state charter. The partnership does not pay tax, but passes through all items of income and loss to the partners. The partners pay tax on partnership earnings. Each partner, unlike a corporate shareholder, undertakes responsibility for the entire operations of the partnership. If the partnership were to be sued and judged liable, each partner bares full responsibility for the damages. A corporate shareholder has no such direct liability.
    • Limited Partnership: combines corporate limited liability with partnership taxation. The limited partnership, formed by filing a charter with a state government, consists of a general partner and one or more limited partners. The charter details the rights and powers of the limited and general partners, percentages of ownership, and distributions of profits. The general partner manages the business. As in a corporation, the limited partners are passive investors liable only for the value of their investment. As in a general partnership, limited partnership income is taxed at the partner level, not at the entity level.
    • Limited Liability Company : a corporation that passes through income and loss to the shareholders but offers shareholders the same limited liability as a limited partner or corporate shareholder. You could say a limited liability company is a corporate version of a limited partnership.
  27. Will I be subject to U.S. tax laws?
    • The United States charges income tax on all U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents, and taxes are based upon worldwide income. Foreign Investors should consider the tax implications and review matters with their professional advisors before making any investment. We can assist in recommending qualified advisors to consult your individual situation.
  28. Will I need pre-immigration tax planning?
    • Before you become a resident of the United States you may wish to consider reducing or eliminating some of the United States income, gift and estate tax consequences which would be applicable to you once you become a United States taxpayer. These objectives may be accomplished through utilizing some common planning techniques such as:
      • making gifts
      • accelerating income and gains
      • deferring deductions and losses
      • creating, amending and/or revoking wills and trusts
      • creating and/or reorganizing entities
    • How does the bank “escrow” account protect me against the risk of losing my money? The initial cash deposit from the investor is placed in an escrow bank account. The escrow account serves to keep the investor’s money protected and separate until such time as the I-526 Conditional Visa application is approved. The funds continue to belong to the investor; however, they are committed to be placed into the investment upon petition approval. The attorney or bank has an agreement with the investor that requires the funds to be released from the account only when the petition is approved by the USCIS. The funds are deposited pursuant to a Private Placement Memorandum and Subscription Agreement.
  29. Can money gifted by a parent or other relative be used for an EB-5 Investment?
    • Yes, provided that any applicable gift taxes are paid. The gift must be an actual arm’s length transaction and cannot be given back after permanent resident status is granted.
  30. If I get a green card, do I have to live in the U.S.?
    • Yes, an applicant for conditional or permanent residence in the U.S. must intend to immigrate to the U.S. and maintain a home in the U.S. as their primary residence. There are several instances to this requirement during the initial period that you will be advised on.
  31. How long does it take for me and my family to receive the “green card”?     
    • The average processing time for clients of the EB-5 Program can take up to a year or possibly longer. The initial application and petition are usually approved in 2 – 5 months, with the balance of the time being required for completing other Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS) and Department of State forms and for scheduling the interview. The USCIS new Washington DC office is expected to streamline and expedite applications.
  32. Do I have to stay in the U.S. once I receive my EB-5 visa?
    • No. As a permanent U.S. resident, you will be able to travel freely within and outside of the United States, the same as any citizen. The USCIS EB-5 regional center program has the added advantage that you may be a passive investor – you are not required to work in or actively manage your investment.
  33. Can I sponsor my 21 year old or over child?
    • While a child who is 21 years old, or more, cannot apply for residency under the parent’s immigrant investment application, a parent may gift that child the required investment funds in order for the child to apply individually as an immigrant investor.
  34. After petition approval, can members of the family interview in different countries?
  • Family members can interview in different countries. The country of origin or where the family has current ties is the standard interview site. Often one member of the family is located in another country, such as a student attending school in the U.S. The student does not have to return to the country of origin and can adjust status in the United States at the district office of the USCIS.

34.   Who receives permanent residency?

  • A husband, wife and any unmarried children under the age of 21. It is possible for adopted children to be included in the family. Upon approval you will receive a form evidencing approval, a travel document and your green card.
  1. What if I am already in the U.S. on another visa status?
    • Already in the U.S. The I-526 petition process remains the same. If, however, you are already in the U.S., after the I-526 is approved, you may then file an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident, as opposed to filing for a visa with your local U.S. consulate. Of course, if you are not yet in the U.S., you must file for an immigrant visa with your local U.S. consulate.
  2. Can I hire my own attorney or only one recommended by the Regional Center?”?
    • The Regional Center can suggest qualified attorney’s that specialize in the intricacies of immigration through the EB-5 program. However, you are free to retain the attorney of your choice.
  3. What makes this program different from the L-1 (manager transfer) or E-1/2 (Treaty Trader/Investor)?
    • Participation in the Immigrant Investor programs yields Permanent Resident status. The E-1/2 Treaty Investor or Treaty Trader programs allow for non-immigrant status only. When the qualifying trade PR investment ends, so does the non-immigrant status that has been granted to the alien. Likewise, the L-1 is a non-immigrant classification. Unlike E-1/2, an L-1 alien can apply for classification as a Multinational Executive or Manager. If such a case is approved, which is becoming more difficult due to the high number of fraudulent cases and a subsequent tightening of the review process, the alien may apply for Permanent Resident status.
  4. How long is a Green Card valid for?
    • If you received your Green Card through investment (EB-5), you should have a conditional Green Card for two years. You must apply for removal of the conditions within a “90 day window” when you have reached the two year conditional time period.
    • If you do not have the condition removed, the Green Card will become invalid at the end of two years, and your permanent resident status will be terminated.
    • Unconditional Green Cards are good for ten years. This does not mean that after ten years, you stop being a legal permanent resident – only the card itself becomes invalid. You must apply for a new one using form I-90. Without a current Green Card, you cannot use the Green Card to travel out of the USA, and you also cannot use the Green Card as evidence that you are permitted to work.
  5. Can my Green card be taken away from me?
    • Once you receive a green card, there are only two conditions required to keep it for life. First, you must not become removable or inadmissible. The most common way of doing this is to be convicted of a serious crime. The second requirement is that you not abandon the United States as your permanent residence. As a general rule, if you have a green card and leave the United States for more than one year, you may have a difficult time re-entering the country. That is because the USCIS feels an absence of longer than one year indicates a possible abandonment of U.S. residence. To avoid a full-scale inspection, you should return within six months. It is a common misconception that to keep your green card all you need to do is enter the United States at least once a year.
    • If you ever leave with the intention of making some other country your permanent home, you give up your U.S. residency when you go. The USCIS will look to your behavior for signals that your real place of residence is not the United States. On the other hand, remaining outside the United States for more than one year does not mean you have automatically given up your green card.
    • If your absence was intended from the start to be only temporary, you may still keep your permanent resident status. However, you may no longer use your green card as a U.S. entry document. You must either apply at a U.S. consulate for a special immigrant visa as a returning resident or you must get what is known as a reentry permit.
  6. I have a Green Card and plan on traveling out of the US for a long time. Can I keep my Green Card?
    • The primary rule surrounding Green Cards is that you lose it if you give up your US residence. The more common criterion, though, is time based. There are three important time limits:
    • If you are absent for less than six months, you will rarely have a problem. It is to USCIS to prove that you abandoned your residency. Absent that, you are considered to never really have left.
    • If you are absent for more than six months but less than a year, the burden of proof changes. It becomes your job to prove that you are still a permanent resident. This is based on the concept that after six months, you have to be readmitted and have to prove that you are still admissible.
    • If you are absent for more than a year, your Green Card will be considered almost automatically abandoned. Once that happens, there is usually no recourse. However, if by chance the immigration officer didn’t ask you how long you have been out of the USA when you return, then you may be in luck and able to keep your Green Card after all. You should in this case not leave the USA for a very long time, and make it your bona fide residence again.
  7. How long must I remain in the United States each year??
    • The first requirement of any investor after they receive the visa at the United States overseas consulate office is to enter into the United States within 180 days of visa issuance from the consulate. The investor must then establish residency in the United States. Evidence of intent to reside includes opening bank accounts, obtaining a driver’s license or social security number, paying state and federal income taxes, renting or buying a home.
    • >The United States resident may work overseas if required based upon the nature of the business or profession. For those permanent residents living outside the United States, we suggest the investor and family re-enter the United States no less than once every six months.
    • The longer the investor and family are present in the United States, the less likely the government is to claim that the investor “abandoned” the United States as a permanent residence – thereby endangering his green card status. In some cases, investors may seek the issuance of a “reentry permit” which allows the Investor permission to remain outside the United States for as long as two years without having to reenter the country to maintain permanent resident status.
  8. What if I need to travel outside of the U.S. for more than a year?
    • You may apply for a reentry permit (on form I-131) before you leave the U.S., and you may depart before the reentry permit is approved.  You may return to the US, even after one year, until the reentry permit expires. Reentry permits are valid for two years. You cannot renew a reentry permit, but you can return to the U.S. for a short time and apply for a new one. The second reentry permit will be granted, but subsequent permits may be approved for one year rather than two.
  9. Where can I find more information about the EB-5 visa program?
    • Further information regarding the application process, requirements, and benefits of the EB-5 visa program is available at http://www.uscis.gov.