How Married Couples Can Apply for the EB-5 Visa Program

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    The EB-5 immigrant investor program is a great option for married couples seeking permanent resident status in the United States through investment. In this detailed guide, I’ll break down the step-by-step process married couples can follow to apply for the EB-5 program.

    The Basics of the EB-5 Program

    Before diving into the application process for married couples, let’s briefly review some key aspects of the EB-5 program:

    Investment Requirement: To qualify, married couples must collectively invest $900,000 in a new commercial enterprise located within a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,800,000 outside a TEA. The investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

    Green Card Eligibility: Approved EB-5 investments lead to conditional permanent residence (green cards) for the married couple and their unmarried children under 21. After two years, they can apply to have the conditions removed from their status.

    Global Availability: A maximum of 10,000 EB-5 visas are available each fiscal year for immigrants from all countries. Oversubscription is common, so early filing is recommended.

    Using a Regional Center: Most EB-5 applicants invest through USCIS-designated regional centers that pool funds from various investors into pre-approved commercial projects. This provides diversification and reduces risk.

    With the basic eligibility requirements and process outlined, let’s now review the specific steps married couples need to take to apply.

    Step 1: Choose an EB-5 Investment Project

    The first major decision for married EB-5 applicants is selecting a viable investment opportunity. Good options include projects run by experienced regional centers with a solid track record of job creation. When choosing, married couples should:

    • Research multiple regional center websites to compare investment options and costs.
    • Request and carefully review the regional center’s Form I-924 filings with USCIS.
    • Speak to the regional center about past project performance and expectations for future job creation impact.
    • Consider projected investment timelines and risks involved with each project.
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    Vetting potential investment options carefully at this stage will save time and paperwork down the road.

    Step 2: Submit I-526 Petition with Business Plan

    Once an EB-5 project is selected, the married couple needs to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.

    Along with biographical information, this petition requires: Evidence of a legally obtained investment of the required capital amount. And A comprehensive business plan prepared by the regional center demonstrating how the investment will create jobs.

    The business plan is pivotal, showing in detail how the investment funds will be used, types of jobs to be created, viability of the commercial enterprise, and economic impact projections.

    Most regional centers will prepare the business plan and file I-526 petitions on behalf of investors to streamline the process. Married couples simply need to sign agreements authorizing their submission. USCIS aims to adjudicate I-526 petitions within 6 months.

    Step 3: Apply for Conditional Green Cards

    Once the I-526 petition is approved, it’s time for married couples to apply for conditional permanent residence using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

    This application requires submitting evidence of:

    • A valid investment in a commercial enterprise associated with an approved I-526 petition.
    • No unlawful presence in the U.S. and eligibility for admission.
    • Background checks and medical exam clearance.

    Married couples should file the I-485 applications concurrently with their unmarried children under 21. The fee is over $3,000 per application. Biometric services and an interview may also be required as part of I-485 processing.

    With approval, conditional green cards are issued valid for two years. This completes the initial EB-5 requirements for married couples.

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    Step 4: Remove Conditions on Green Cards

    Within 90 days of the two-year conditional period ending, married EB-5 investors must file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions.

    To have the conditions removed and receive permanent resident status, they need to show Commitment of the full required investment amount and Sustained job creation by the commercial enterprise as outlined in the original I-526 business plan.

    Regional centers again typically handle I-829 preparation and submission on behalf of investors. If all goes smoothly, permanent green cards are issued within 6 months of filing.

    However, failure to satisfy I-829 requirements could lead to having conditional status terminated and facing removal (deportation) proceedings. That’s why keeping good documentation of investment and business activity is critical.

    Additional Requirements and Considerations

    Here are a few other important factors for married couples navigating the EB-5 process:

    Maintaining Lawful Status: Applicants must not accrue any unlawful presence in the U.S. which could trigger multi-year bans on reentry. Proper visas like E-2 or L-1 should be used if residing stateside during processing.

    Sources of Funds: Married couples need verifiable evidence the full investment was obtained legally from personal assets or qualified loans. Funds can’t be mixed from unrelated third parties.

    Age and Health Issues: There are no maximum age limits under EB-5, but applicants must pass medical exams. Preexisting conditions won’t necessarily disqualify but can extend processing times.

    Ability to Relocate: While conditional residence is not required, many regional centers appreciate married couples being able and willing to relocate near job-generating projects if asked. This shows commitment.

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    Using Attorneys: Hiring an experienced EB-5 immigration lawyer, especially for complex or problematic cases, may help navigate issues and strengthen the overall application package. Their expertise could prove invaluable.

    Conclusion – Seizing the EB-5 Opportunity

    The EB-5 program offers married couples a unique chance to establish long-term residence and opportunity in the United States through investment instead of employment sponsorship. However, following each step methodically and partnering with reputable regional centers is paramount for success.

    With care taken at project selection, documentation of sources of funds, compliance with status rules, and satisfaction of later removal of conditions filings, married EB-5 applicants put themselves in the strongest position to achieve the benefits of U.S. permanent residence through this program.

    For those determined to invest in their future abroad, EB-5 remains a viable option well worth pursuing.

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