For any foreign investor considering the EB-5 program as a means to gain permanent residence as a U.S. citizen, failure at any point of the process is a genuine risk. It can be as simple as failing to properly fill out and provide the right information on the applications and petitions or as complex as a regional center itself failing for various reasons, including corruption. In this series, we will discuss the process, pitfalls and problems pertaining to EB-5 and how you can avoid them.
Let’s start with the first step of the whole process, the I-526 application. The USCIS adjudicates and provides the application for entrepreneurs who want to immigrate to the U.S. The form can be downloaded for free via USCIS’ web site but there’s a $1,500 filing fee. Many things can go wrong when filing out the form, from simply using the wrong color ink to failing to fulfilling eligibility requirements regarding the types of investment the investor is pursuing, whether it be a new business enterprise, a troubled business, or a regional center.
Each one of these investments has a specific list of requirements that include providing documentation proving their capital is from a “lawful” source, and that they have a level of income to sustain the investment.
Tax returns, passports and certified letters of pending civil or criminal actions and proceedings are required.
Investors must produce evidence that the investment will produce at least 10 permanent full time jobs. If investing in a Regional Center, the investor is trusting them to comply with this essential requirement. Also, an attached letter from legacy INS or USCIS designating the chooses regional center is required.
If investing in a troubled business, you must provide evidence that the existing jobs will be preserved.
All documents written in a language other than English must be accompanied by an English translation.
Failure to produce even one element of the required documentation can result in the application being denied, so the process can be overwhelming and requires an acute attention to detail.
There are many resources available to help guide investors through the process, including immigration attorneys who specialize in EB-5.
The USCIS provides a list of tips on their web site to help keep investors from setting themselves up for failure from the start and having their application and chance of becoming a U.S. citizen denied.