Invest Now to Adjust Status (H-1B/F-1/E-2/TN) and Receive Work Permit (EAD) and Travel Permit in as Fast as 90 Days

The EB-5 Visa: the Fast Green Card for H-1B Visa Holders

  • Employment (EAD) & Travel (AP) permits in as little as 60 days.
  • Green Card approval in 4 months with approved Rural project & Priority Processing

For highly skilled workers on an H-1B visa, transitioning to an EB-5 visa could quickly secure their future in the U.S., irrespective of their employment situation. Recent changes mandated by the “EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act” (RIA) now allow H-1B visa holders to file for an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) concurrently with their EB-5 application (Form I-526E).

This means you can stay in the U.S., work, and travel while your Green Card application is processedlike many of the investors of our rural project “The Fredrick” who are receiving their unrestricted Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765) and Advanced Parole (Form I-131) approved in as little as 2 months. This allows you to work for any employer without pre-qualifications, quotas, or lotteries, and to travel and reenter the US freely.

To be able to benefit from concurrent filing, you must be in the US and invest in a project that qualifies for a reserved visa category that shows “Current” in the Visa Bulletin. We advise investors of high demand countries like China, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea to carefully consider the availability of set aside visas (20% for Rural, 10% for High Unemployment TEA, 2% Infrastructure) and the number of investors already ahead of them. As we have shown in our previous blog that a visa category can suddenly become “Unavailable” and its priority date jump backward, a situation known as visa retrogression.

Thousands of H-1B Visa Holder Layoffs

Recent layoffs announced by major technology firms including Google, Tesla, Apple, and Amazon have introduced a wave of uncertainty for many H-1B visa holders working in the tech sector. The H-1B visa, which allows foreign nationals to work in the U.S., comes with several constraints such as continued employer sponsorship and a limited 60-day grace period to secure new employment after losing a job or having to leave the US.

The precariousness of relying on H-1B status for long-term residency in the U.S. has been underscored by Tesla’s recent decision to lay off 16,000 employees, many of whom are H-1B engineers.

Additionally, the stability previously provided by employer-dependent Green Cards is diminishing as companies like Google and Amazon have stopped sponsoring PERM job offers, the sponsorship H-1B holders need for applying for EB-2 and EB-3 visas, further complicating the path to securing permanent residency.

This scenario is especially challenging for H-1B highly skilled workers from India and China that need to maintain status and who face long waits for permanent residency due to EB-2 and EB-3 backlogs that can extend for decades. We have described this in a previous blog and also detail it below.

The H-1B Visa

One of the primary visas sought by professionals worldwide is the H-1B, which serves as a beacon for skilled individuals in specialty occupations. The visa is designed for those who possess a high degree of expertise in areas like science, engineering, and IT. The H-1B program’s merits are numerous—it allows U.S. companies to augment their workforce with international experts, driving innovation and maintaining a competitive edge in the global market. For the visa holders, it often marks the beginning of a significant professional journey, opening doors to vast career opportunities in the United States.

However, the path provided by the H-1B visa is not devoid of obstacles. Subject to a restrictive annual cap and a highly competitive lottery system, it leaves many applicants in a state of uncertainty. Even for the successful, the H-1B typically offers a maximum of six years in the U.S., casting a shadow of impermanence over their stay. During this period, if an individual is laid off, a narrow 60-day window is provided to secure alternative employment, alter their visa status, or reluctantly leave the U.S. This transient nature of the H-1B visa can stifle long-term career planning and creates an environment of dependency on the visa sponsor—usually the employer.

The H-1B visa is also employer-specific, which means it binds the visa holder to one employer and limits their ability to change jobs or seek promotion. This inflexibility can result in underemployment or job dissatisfaction, as individuals may feel compelled to remain in roles that no longer align with their career aspirations. Dependents on the H-4 visa, typically spouses and children, also face restrictions that can affect their quality of life and ability to integrate into the social fabric of the U.S., particularly concerning their ability to work or obtain a social security number.

The EB-5 visa program offers a compelling alternative, especially for those with the resources to make a substantial investment in the U.S. economy. This program focuses on job creation and capital investment by foreign investors, offering them a path to permanent residency, free from the limitations and uncertainties of the H-1B visa. The EB-5 program is defined by its ability to offer investors and their families the closest alternative to the rights and privileges enjoyed by American citizens. It separates job risk from immigration risk and provides a stable and predictable immigration pathway.

Contrary to the restrictive nature of the H-1B, the EB-5 visa offers a degree of freedom that empowers individuals to take control of their professional and personal lives. There is no cap or lottery, no need for employer sponsorship or labor certification, and no single job that ties an investor down. The EB-5 visa holders can start businesses, work within any field, and move freely across the country, pursuing opportunities as they arise. Children of EB-5 investors are safeguarded from ‘aging out,’ and the path to citizenship is expedited, providing a quicker route for reuniting families and sponsoring relatives for residency.

With the EB-5 visa, if an investor’s priority date is current, they can have their I-526E petition approved in record time. Moreover, investors can file an I-485 adjustment of status to become a conditional resident while in the U.S., a process that is not available to those holding an EB-2 or EB-3 visa unless their priority date is current. EB-5 investors are also eligible for an open market EAD within a relatively short period, usually around three months, allowing them to work for any U.S. employer, or even for themselves.

The benefits of the EB-5 visa are substantial, but so is the investment required. Prospective investors must commit either $1,050,000 or $800,000 (in a targeted employment area) to a new commercial enterprise. This investment must create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers within a defined period, usually within two years. The process to obtain an EB-5 visa involves navigating a meticulous application process, proving the ‘at-risk’ nature of the investment, and documenting the creation of jobs. Despite these requirements, the EB-5 visa offers a secure and permanent pathway for those who can meet its criteria, with the added benefit of potentially returning the investment over time.

H-1B Visa Lottery

The H-1B visa lottery is an essential mechanism that allocates a limited number of visas, specifically 85,000, among a vast pool of candidates—over 442,000 for the Fiscal Year 2025. This makes the selection process highly competitive, with only about 20% of applicants successfully obtaining a visa. The distribution includes 20,000 visas reserved for those with master’s or doctorate degrees, thereby diminishing the chances for those holding only a bachelor’s degree. The competitive nature of the lottery is underlined by the sheer volume of applicants vying for a chance to work in the U.S. under this program.

H1-B Applications vs. H-1B Yearly Cap
Fiscal YearApplicationsH1-B Cap%

As shown above, the number of applications recently peaked at 780,884, but then dropped to 442,000. This is not because of lower interest in the H-1B Visa, but from drastic changes to make the process more transparent. In response to the increasing demand and to curb potential fraud, significant changes were made to the lottery process for the Fiscal Year 2025 cap season. The USCIS now employs a strategy of selecting unique beneficiaries to ensure each applicant has an equal opportunity, regardless of the number of submissions per individual. This approach involves requiring all applicants to provide passport information or another form of travel document for registration verification. These adjustments aim to fortify the integrity of the H-1B registration process, promoting fairness and preventing manipulation through multiple entries for the same candidate.

Once granted, an H-1B visa is initially valid for three years and can be extended to a maximum of six years. However, there are several restrictions, such as the need for the visa holder to remain employed with the sponsor employer. If an H-1B worker loses their job, they have a 60-day grace period to find new employment, change their visa status, or leave the United States.

H-1B Visa Families Face Uncertainty

Families of H-1B visa holders face constant uncertainty and significant financial risks, as they typically make substantial long-term commitments based on the stability of the primary earner’s job, such as mortgages and car loans. When an H-1B visa holder loses their job, it not only cuts off the primary source of income but also jeopardizes their ability to meet financial obligations, potentially leading to severe consequences like foreclosure. The loss of employer-provided health insurance compounds these challenges, especially if family members have existing health conditions, as it strips away crucial healthcare access.

The implications extend beyond financial issues, affecting social and educational aspects of family life. Children may endure significant educational disruptions and loss of social stability if they have to relocate, particularly those who are not U.S. citizens and must leave with their parents. This uprooting from established community and educational environments can be traumatic. Additionally, job loss can cause long-term career setbacks for the visa holder, and the legal complexities for children who are U.S. citizens can force families into difficult decisions about whether to separate to provide better opportunities for the children or to stay together as a unit, all of which can lead to substantial emotional and psychological stress.

On a positive note, an H-1B Visa key feature is its “dual intent” provision, which allows visa holders to apply for permanent residency (a Green Card) without jeopardizing their H-1B status, making it a popular pathway for skilled professionals aiming to live and work in the U.S. long-term.

Decades of Waiting for EB-2 and EB-3 Green Cards

Traditionally, H-1B Visa holders have relied on EB-2 and EB-3 visas to get Green Cards. The EB-2 visa is for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business, significantly benefiting U.S. interests. The EB-3 visa is for skilled workers, and professionals with a baccalaureate degree. Both require a labor certification (PERM) and a permanent, full-time job offer.

However, the EB-2 and EB-3 avenues are no longer viable for Indian and Chinese nationals as it might take decades for them to get a visa number given the many thousands of approved applicants waiting for a visa number, and the limited 2,800 per country yearly cap for these visas. The situation is more dire as the charts below consider only the main applicant, and not spouse and children who also take up visas.

Estimated Wait for India
Approved & Waiting for VisaVisas per YearYears to Wait
Source USCIS Dec 2023 
Estimated Wait for China
Approved & Waiting for VisaVisas per YearYears to Wait
Source USCIS Dec 2023 

The EB-5 Visa: A Direct Path to Permanent Residency

Transition from H-1B to EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 visa program presents the fastest alternative to permanent residency without the need for employer sponsorship. Here’s what you need to know about the EB-5 program and how it can be a game-changer for H-1B visa holders:

Key Features of the EB-5 Visa Program

  • Permanent Residency: EB-5 leads directly to a Green Card for the investor, their spouse, and unmarried minor children. First, you get conditional Green Card status for 2 years. When jobs are proven, you get Permanent Legal Residency (aka Permanent Green Card). Family can apply for US Citizenship 5 years from 1st Green Card.
  • Investment Requirement: An investment of $1,050,000 that is reduced to $800,000 for Rural and High Employment Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) as shown below. 
  Visa CategoryPriority ProcessingReserved VisaVisa Set AsidesInvestmentProject Location
Rural20%$800KOutside MSA or town > 20,000 habitants
High Unemployment 10%$800KCensus tract(s) with >150% national unemployment rate
Infrastructure 2%$800KGovernment project
Unreserved   $1.05MAll other areas
  • Job Creation: Your investment must lead to the creation of at least 10 jobs for American workers. While direct EB-5 investments can only count direct jobs (W-2 employees), Regional Center projects can also count jobs generated by project expenditures and projected revenues. The inclusion of these indirect (supply chain) and induced jobs (ripple effect on the economy) makes RC job creation more abundant and predictable.
  • No Employer Sponsor Needed: Unlike the H-1B visa, the EB-5 visa does not require employer sponsorship. With Regional Center projects, it is your capital that creates the jobs. You do not have to work to stay in the US.
  • Freedom to Pursue Your Dreams: Unlike the H-1B visa that ties you to a specific job and employer, EB-5 gives you unrestricted opportunities to shape your future. You can live, work and travel anywhere in the US.
  • Educational Opportunities: Your children do not age out. As permanent residents they enjoy higher acceptance rates and lower tuition at state colleges and universities.
  • Reserved Visa Categories: The “EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act” (RIA) created the Reserved Visa Categories and set aside a yearly allocation of EB-5 Visas to them—Rural (20%), High Unemployment (10%), and Infrastructure Projects (2%).
  • Priority Processing: Priority processing for EB-5 rural projects expedites the review and approval of visa applications for investments in rural areas, targeting an average processing time of 4 months. This provision aims to promote economic development and job creation in less populated regions by encouraging foreign investment. These rural areas are defined as regions outside the boundaries of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) or any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more.
  • Concurrent Filing: Through Concurrent Filing investors whose priority date is “Current” in the Visa Bulletin can submit their I-526E Petitions alongside their Adjustment of Status (Form I-485), Employment Authorization Document (Form I-765), and Travel Permit (Advanced Parole, Form I-131). This allows them to access advanced Green Card benefits valid for five years within just 2 to 3 months. You can work for any employer and travel freely without the constraints of quotas or lotteries, all while their Green Card application is being processed.
  • Pre-Approved Projects: A key RIA safeguard for EB-5 investors is the implementation of a two-step process for their I-526E approval. The Regional Center must first submit Form I-956F with details about the regional center, project location (whether rural, high unemployment, or infrastructure), financial details such as total cost and the number of EB-5 investors and expected job creation. A project with an approved I-956F application means that your I-526E will be approved, subject to the approvability of your Source of Funds support. Beware, however, that not all projects out there have been approved, as the law only requires that Form I-956F be only submitted prior to opening project subscription, and project approval may take longer than a year.

“The Frederick”, an Exciting Investment Opportunity

Now is an excellent moment to invest in an approved EB-5 project that leverages the advantages of concurrent filing and priority processing that would allow you and your family to stay in the US while your Green Cards are being processed.

Houston EB5 is proud to announce that our The Frederick project has received I-956F Project Approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA).

Reasons to Invest in The Frederick

Streamlined USCIS Processing: The I-956F approval guarantees a more efficient and expedited immigration process, significantly cutting down I-526E petition processing times to just 3-6 months.

Strategic Location: Capitalize on the city’s significant tourist demand and its proximity to Austin and San Antonio, two of the nation’s rapidly expanding metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). Being near these MSAs provides lower construction costs and access to a larger target market compared to rural projects located hundreds of miles from a major city.

Vertically Integrated Developer and Regional Center: As both a regional center and developer, our partnership with DC Partners aligns our financial interests directly with those of our EB-5 investors: we can only succeed after you do.