How to qualify for an EB-5 visa

Updated: Feb 18

Immigrant visas for entering the U.S. can be acquired in a number of ways. There are avenues to residency that can come through having family in the country, as well as numerous opportunities for employment-based immigration. One such employment-reliant option is as an EB-5 visa, which allows immigrant investors and their families to enter and reside in the U.S.

In order to successfully apply for an EB-5 visa, one must meet a series of requirements. If you’re considering petitioning for this particular green card, it’s helpful to be aware of your eligibility status.

Capital investment guidelines

To obtain classification as an immigrant investor, a foreign national must make certain minimum investments into a qualifying commercial business. These investments cannot rely on borrowed funds. The minimum qualifying capital dollar amounts are as follows:

- $1,800,000; or

- $900,000 if the enterprise is in an area with high unemployment. Rural areas can also qualify for this distinction.

This investment must also create 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. residents within two years. These jobs cannot go to the investor, their spouse or their children.

What is a qualifying commercial enterprise?

A foreign national’s investment must go to a qualifying commercial enterprise. Per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), that can be any for-profit activity meant to conduct continuous lawful business. Different types of eligible commercial enterprises include corporations, joint trusts, partnerships, business trusts, holding companies, sole proprietorships and more.

Filing a petition and visa application

If you believe that you meet the standards for an EB-5 visa, and you’re interested in applying, you’ll first need to submit a Form I-526 petition. Once this petition has USCIS approval, you can then apply for an immigrant visa with the National Visa Center. Because this process can be tricky to navigate, you may find it helpful to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The right legal counsel can assist you in gathering the correct, complete documentation, and they could prove helpful when preparing your application.