As the EB-5 immigrant investor visa has increased in popularity so has the assumption that the process takes years for investors to receive their green cards. While this may be true, it is important to understand that each case is different and its outcomes are based on a number of different elements. For instance choosing the right project or being a certain nationality will affect the outcome of the investors application. The approval of the I-526 petition is the initial approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) stating that your application has met the EB-5 requirements and can be sent to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) for issuance of a green card.
Prior to USCIS’s implementation of the visa availability approach they had a first in first out system. This meant that they processed applications based on when they were filed rather than if visas were available for that particular nationality. While the first in first out method seemed the most logical, due to the annual visa quotas investor dependents would run the risk of “aging out” of the program before receiving their green cards. The time between approval of the I-526 petition and obtaining the green card from the NVC was very long and people would wait for periods of about 4 years and some even longer. Once the I-526 petition has been approved all the applicants and their dependents exit what is called the “freeze age” period and their age clock is resumed. This means that if on application a dependent was 20 years of age and close to reaching 21 years (the age limit) and they had additional wait times for their green card. They would age out and be deemed invalid to be included in their parents application. For Indians, Chinese and Vietnamese they have had the biggest backlog with applicants waiting years to get their approval and have thus experienced the biggest issues.
The increase in capital investment to $900,000 along with cumulative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic allowed for a substantial decline in EB-5 applications. This further allowed for USCIS and the NVC to catch up with the backlog through the allocation of visas to applicants who are already in the system. Furthermore the increased visa quotas for fiscal 2021 will additionally aid in curbing the backlog and easing application.
Albeit, the process can take long, it can also be completed within the average of 16 months. It is pivotal for prospective investors to fully understand the process in its entirety and to explain to their specialist their true intentions behind relocation to the U.S. If an investor is looking for fast access to the U.S. as well as obtaining a U.S. passport, then the EB-5 specialist can advise filing for the EB-5 immigrant investor program along with the E-2 Treaty visa program (if the investor’s nationality allows). While the investor is waiting for their EB-5 process to reach completion they would be able to commence residing and working in the U.S. Alternatively, if the prospective investor does not qualify under the E-2 visa they can start with obtaining citizenship through investment with a country that has a commercial Trade Treaty with the U.S. upon receiving their new citizenship they can then apply for the EB-5 visa and E-2 visa based off of their new citizenship.
Prospective investors should also be advised that national expedited projects can get their applications approved in time. By choosing a national expedited project their application will be fast tracked through both the USCIS system and the NVC system and receive their green cards much faster. The idea that the EB-5 immigrant investor program takes years is not 100 percent accurate because there are ways to ensure that the families gain legal access into the U.S. as long as they have the right EB-5 specialist working with them.
We are a team of U.S. licensed lawyers who specialize in the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates we provide quality service above standard service. Contact us today to start your journey to the U.S.