Who’s Eligible for an EB-5 Visa?

The EB-5 visa requires holders to make substantial investments of at least $500,000 in the United States. These are considerable sums of money, so you might be wondering what kind of people are eligible for this category and whether you are lucky enough to be one of them. The following scenarios serve to clarify the eligibility and general requirements for the EB-5 investor visa.

 

Scenario 1

Background

Vinay Panjabi received a Rs. 7.5 crore (~$1,000,000) gift from his father, Jeetu, a successful business owner in New Delhi. Vinay is currently undergraduate student in political science at Georgetown University in Washington DC. He has no advanced degree, nor does he have managerial experience. He would like to stay permanently in the U.S. after he receives his degree; his goal is to become a U.S. citizen and have a career in politics or diplomacy. He was considering leveraging his older sister Naina, who married an American man and is already a U.S. citizen, for this purpose. However, he recently heard about the EB-5 visa.

 

Is the EB-5 a viable option for Vinay Panjabi?

The EB-5 is indeed a viable option for Vinay. In fact, it’s one of his only options, since he has no advanced degree or special skill set that could make him eligible for other employment-based visas like the EB-1A or NIW. His only other option would be to apply for a green card through a family-based I-130 petition based on his sister Naina’s citizenship. However, as a sibling, Naina would be in the fourth preference, family-based category, and he has no time to wait around for the many years required by a family-based petition. Thus, his best option is to invest part of his million bucks in an EB-5 investment.

 

But which investment option is right for him? If he invests directly in a new business enterprise, he will have to take part in managerial operations, but Vinay has no managerial experience, or interest in business. So after carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each option, Vinay decides his best bet is to invest in a regional center, where he will have no managerial responsibilities and can instead focus on getting his degree and a good job afterwards.

 

Scenario 2

Background

Cyrus Daruwalla is the Managing Director of one of the smaller companies in the Tata Group and is interested in permanently moving to the U.S. using an EB-5. He knows that if he sells his flat, he will have a net worth of a little over $1 million, enough to invest in a new business enterprise and obtain an EB-5 visa. Moreover, Cyrus has extensive managerial experience, so he is not limited to a regional center. However, his company, which has offices in many countries around the world, including the United States, has recently informed her of a plan to send him to work at their U.S. branch on an EB-1C visa.

 

Is the EB-5 visa the best option Cyrus?

Since Cyrus’s net worth is just over $1,000,000 dollars and he would have to sell his home to obtain the liquid funds necessary for an EB-5 investment, the EB-5 might not be the best option for him. A better strategy would be to come to the United States on a temporary L-1 visa as an intra-company executive transferee before submitting an EB-1C immigration petition for permanent residency. That way, Cyrus will not have to sell his home and risk his net worth on an investment that might end up failing. If he goes the EB-1C route, he can immediately adjust his status to unconditional permanent residency as soon as his EB-1C petition is approved.

 

Scenario 3

Background

Renu Agarwal is independently wealthy, having made her fortune in fashion. To date, her assets total $15 million. Because her business is continually growing, she expects to maintain her wealth for the long haul. Recently, Ms. Agarwal discovered an opportunity in the U.S. fashion market and would like to start a company there. She is also married and has two children, both of whom are under the age of 21.

 

Is the EB-5 a viable option for Renu Agarwal?

Absolutely. With plenty of liquid assets and a clear idea of what industry she wants to invest in, the EB-5 visa is an ideal option for Renu. In setting up shop in the U.S., Ms. Agarwal could become the creator of a new business enterprise and become the majority shareholder, or she could invest through the Regional Center program.Her husband and children can also receive EB-5 benefits.

Scenario 4

Background

Dr. Mehta and his wife are in their 50s and are renowned professors at IIT Bombay. They have an 18-year-old son, Vijay, who is already studying in the United States as a college freshman, and they would like to join him there. Over the course of their careers, the Mehta’s have accumulated a total of $600,000 in assets through real estate investments in Mumbai. They have heard that it is possible to receive an EB-5 visa by investing in the U.S., and they know that they meet the $500,000 minimum for investing in an EB-5 project.

 

Is the EB-5 a viable option for the Mehta’s?

We would advise the Mehta family against investing most of their assets in an EB-5 project. Although they do have enough to meet the minimum investment requirement, they would also have to spend up to $80,000 extra on legal and administrative fees, almost wiping out their savings.