Green Card Through Investment
In order to obtain a U.S. green card through investment, the foreign investor must file an I-526 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). If the investor is preparing to the file this petition, the investor should have already made the required investment ($1,000,000 or $500,000 depending on the area of investment) and gathered the necessary evidence.
When you are ready to file the I-526 petition, you will need to gather your supporting documents (discussed in detail below), complete Form I-526, and mail the entire package to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition should also include a detailed explanation of the commercial enterprise, your investment, the source of your investment, and how you fulfill the requirements for a green card under the EB-5 category.
The petition must also include the correct filing fee, which is currently $1,500 (2012). However, filing fees are subject to change, and USCIS will reject your petition and return it to you if you do not include the proper filing fee. Therefore, you should always confirm the correct filing fee by visiting the USCIS Form I-526 informational Web page. This Web page also contains the address where you can file the petition.
Please note that at this time, the premium processing service is not available for I-526 Petitions (this process allows USCIS to adjudicate certain petitions within 15 days for an extra fee).
What Do I Need to Include in My I-526 Petition?
The I-526 petition must be accompanied by several documents to substantiate your claims that:
- you are investing into a commercial enterprise
- your investment was obtained through lawful means, and
- your investment will generate the requisite amount of jobs for U.S. workers.
USCIS reviews these documents, and the information you provide on the I-526 Form, and decides whether you qualify for a green card based upon your investment into a U.S. commercial enterprise. It is very important to provide as much of the required documentation as possible, to help ensure a prompt and successful approval of your petition.
- Commercial enterprise documents: If you are using your investment to create an entirely new commercial enterprise, you should submit the following documentation (as applicable): articles of incorporation, partnership agreements, certificate of limited partnership, state business license, Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN), business bank accounts, offering memorandum and subscription agreement.If you are using your investment to expand an existing business or purchase an existing business with simultaneous reorganization/restructuring, you should also submit the following documents: certificate of merger/consolidation, proof, certificate of purchase, shareholder agreement approving the purchase/restructure/reorganization, certified financial reports, and stock purchase agreements.
- Investment documents: You must provide evidence of your investment into the commercial enterprise. These documents may include copies of the enterprise’s bank statements that evidence the enterprise has received your investment, evidence of assets that you purchased that will be used by the enterprise, promissory notes, security agreements, or funds held in escrow.If you are investing $500,000 due to the commercial enterprise’s location in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), you must also submit evidence of the TEA’s existence, such as a letter from the state’s governor or state agency dealing with unemployment confirming the TEA status.
- Lawful Source of Investment documents: Please note, this is often one of the MOST important aspects of the I-526 petition. You should include as much detailed information as possible and really demonstrate to USCIS the lawful trail of your investment funds. The requirements for this part of the I-526 petition vary greatly from applicant to applicant and depend upon how you obtained the funds you are investing (such as through your employment, an inheritance, a loan, stock profits, and so on). Depending on your own circumstances, you might gather such evidence as: tax returns for the past five years, sale of real property records, mortgages, bank statements, savings accounts, sale of stock certificates, dividends certificates, profit/loss statements, or promissory notes.Please note that if you obtained the investment funds from another person (such as a family member or business partner) you must show the lawful source of THAT person’s funds. For example, let’s say your father is the CEO of his own company. The profits from his business are sufficient for you to invest in a commercial enterprise and qualify for EB-5. Your father loans you the money for the investment. In addition to providing a copy of the promissory note, you must also submit documentation of his business profits, the business’s license, registration, and anything else relevant and convincing.
- Job Creation documents: You must submit proof that your investment will create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. This evidence is typically a highly detailed business plan that explains how the enterprise will need at least ten workers in order to perform its operations. This business plan will be closely scrutinized by USCIS and your best bet is to get professional assistance in drafting the business plan.
- Documentation of Your Management of the Enterprise: You must include a statement of your position title and duties within the enterprise. In the alternative, you can submit evidence that you are a corporate officer, a member of the board of directors, or a partner. USCIS will review this statement to confirm that you will be engaged in either the exercise of day-to-day managerial control of the enterprise, or that you will be managing the enterprise through policy formulation.
While this list of documentation is quite long, realize that the more proof you send to USCIS, the higher your changes of approval may be.