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Priority Processing: What to Expect

If you’re interested in obtaining an EB-5 visa, you may want to know what priority processing looks like. You also will likely have basic questions regarding how much the investment amount is and what you need to do to be approved. Here are some guidelines on what you can expect regarding the EB-5 visa and process:

What Is the EB5 Investment Amount?

The EB-5 Visa program allows foreign nationals, the spouse of the primary applicant, and unmarried children under the age of 21 to obtain green cards by investing in a company or a project in the U.S.  The programs as established as law under the Immigration and Nationality Act in 1990 under section 203(b)(5). To be a qualified investment, the project must benefit the U.S. economy and either create or preserve a minimum of 10 full-time jobs. Investors must pledge at least $1,050,000 to the project. If the project is in a targeted employment area, the minimum investment amount is reduced to $800,00.

How Traditional Processing Works for EB-5 Visas?

The first step in the process is to schedule a meeting with Houston EB5 to discuss the investment opportunities that are available. Next, you will need to complete an investor questionnaire. Once you fill it out and submit it Houston EB5 will be at liberty to share the project’s offering and subscription documents with you. After this, you should speak with an EB-5 immigration attorney to discuss your optimal strategy recording Source and path of Funds, one of the most critical aspects in being approved. If you do not have an immigration attorney retained, we would be happy to introduce you to as many as you would like to speak with. Whenever you have made a decision regarding your EB-5 investment, you will sign the project’s documents. After signing, you will invest the funds at which point your attorney will submit the I-526E petition.

Once the I-526E petition has been approved, you will receive a conditional green card, which is valid for two years. You and your family can move the U.S. at that time and work and live where you choose in the States.

Two months before your conditional visa expires, your immigration attorney will need to submit an I-829 petition. This petition requests for the conditions on your visa to be removed. Once this petition has been approved, you and your family’s green cards are permanent. After you have lived in the US for five years, you can then apply for citizenship.

The timeline for the first three steps in preparing your I-526E petition can take as little as one month, or it can last longer depending on how quickly you work through the process which includes completing the questionnaire, providing the Source and Path of Funds documentation to the attorney. After submitting the petition, you will likely wait to two years to receive an approval.

What Is Priority Processing?

An updated law was presenting and signed by President Biden on March 15, 2022 which is known as the EB-5 Reform & Integrity Act of 2022. This act created a new set of rules and standards for EB-5 investments yielding strong advantages and protections for investors.

One of the big changes with this act is priority processing. Prior to the law, the average petition would take nearly two years to receive an approval from the USCIS. The law requests the USCIS to process petitions for rural investments on a priority basis. There isn’t a time limit for processing, but other expedited petitions have typically been processed within 180 days. It is the stated goal of the new legislation to eventually process these priority applications in 180-240 days.

Priority processing under the new law only applies to rural EB-5 investments. Other EB-5 investments are processed within the normal time frames, approximately two years.

What Is a Rural Investment?

Urban TEA investments, or Targeted Employment Areas, are located within a metropolitan statistical area and that have a higher-than-average unemployment rate that is at least 150 percent over the national average. Rural projects are also TEAs, however, they qualify based on being located outside a metropolitan statistical area in a region or town that has less than 20,000 residents as opposed to the relationship of unemployment in the area. Since rural Eb-5 investments are geared towards that the EB-5 program was created for, incentivizing job-creation, rural EB-5 investors now benefit from priority processing and the highest allocation of visa set-asides.

Visa set-asides are pertinent to investors who were born in countries that are currently or will soon be facing retrogression. Retrogression occurs when one country has to too many EB-5 investors in line compared to the number of Eb-5 visas available to that specific country in one fiscal year. This then causes the investors who did not receive vias to be pushed to the next year and has a domino effect for years to come. Retrogression can cause anywhere from two to ten years in additional wait times even after being approved for the EB-5 petition.

The best way to avoid retrogression is by selecting a rural Eb-5 project as 20% of the visas available ach year will be dedicated to rural investors. Thereby, investors from retrogressed countries are able to “skip the line” by taking a set-aside via as opposed to retrogressed investors who do not.

Process of Applying for EB5 Visas

The process of applying for the EB-5 green card is the same regardless of what Eb-5 category the project that your selecting is. The only difference is in the EB-5 investment amount and the timeline for approval. Priority processing requires the exact same documentation.

Project Documentation

These documents are provided by Houston EB5 and include evidence that you have invested in a qualifying project. To be eligible for priority processing, we will show documentation that the project is located in a targeted employment area and that it will result in the required number of jobs.

Personal Documentation

The personal documents required are the responsibility of the investor. They will need to show the following as part of the process:

  • Copy of personal passport, whether it is current or expired, and Form I-94
  • Copy of passports for all family members who will be moving to the U.S.
  • Documents to show that you have invested the required amount or are in the process
  • Registration for your household
  • Copy of any immigration applications you have filed previously
  • Copies of any judgment, civil or criminal action, or civil actions by a private party against the investor from the past 15 years (these copies must be certified.)

Financial Documentation

These documents are also the responsibility of the investor. The must be provided for the petition to be approved.

  • Copies of tax returns from the past five years, both personal and business
  • Bank statements from the past five years
  • Proof of business ownership
  • Copy of any business licenses
  • Financial statements for all business you own
  • Proof of any other sources of capital you have
  • Documentation showing that the funds for the investment were lawfully obtained

While you are responsible for providing the personal and financial documentation, you can contact Houston EB5 with any questions you have about the process and requirements.

Why Work With Houston EB5?

Houston EB5 is unique in the fact that we are immigrants helping immigrants. We strive to protect our investors by only choosing projects in which we invest our own capital. Our strategy and philosophy is to always place our equity after the Eb-5 investors in the capital stack, so we must repay all Eb-5 equity before we make a dime, In choosing to go with us, it is a win-win relationship in that we can only succeed when you do.

If you are interested in getting your visa sooner, contact Houston EB5 to discuss our current projects.