Demand for U.S. visas has exceeded the supply for years. However, certain visas are less well-known than others. For example, the EB-5 visa is an often-overlooked option for people looking to live and work in the U.S.
However, the EB-5 visa is gaining wider recognition as alternatives like the H-1B visa become increasingly competitive. It has all the benefits of other employment visas without some of the drawbacks. However, not everyone is eligible for the EB-5. Here’s what you should know about this visa, how it compares to the H-1B, and when to consider the EB-5.
What Is an EB-5 Visa?
The EB-5 is an employment-based green card that permits certain qualified people and their immediate family to receive permanent residency in the U.S. It is also known as the “immigrant investor” card because it applies to people who make significant investments in the U.S. to increase or preserve full-time jobs.
“EB-5” stands for “Employment-Based, Fifth Preference,” meaning it is the fifth of five preference levels for employment-related green cards. Unlike other EB categories, applicants do not need to demonstrate specific skills or work in particular industries.
According to USCIS, people eligible for this green card must “invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least ten qualifying employees.” In certain cases, the investor can also invest in a troubled business to maintain jobs that would otherwise be lost. This investment is considered valid grounds for permitting immigration to the U.S. since it increases local employment instead of taking jobs from citizens.
EB-5 Visas vs. H-1B Visas
Immigrant investor cards are becoming a popular alternative to the H-1B visa. However, these two options have some important differences, so choosing one over the other may not be possible. Here’s how the two compare:
|Considerations and Requirements||EB-5||H-1B|
|Number Issued||10,000 annually, with quotas per country||85,000 annually|
|Duration||Two years, with permanent residency granted after job creation is demonstrated||Three years, with the potential to renew for another three or apply for permanent residency|
|Wait Time||Varies depending on the country and the project; people from countries with few applicants or those who invest in rural areas may have no wait||No set wait time, but applicants may only apply once per year, and only 14% of applicants were selected in the lottery for FY 2024|
|Skills Required||None||A bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized field|
|Investment Required||At least $800,000 into specific industries||None by the candidate; cost of application by the sponsor|
|Family||Spouses and children may receive green cards as well||Spouses and children may receive temporary visas as well|
When Is an EB-5 Visa the Best Option?
The immigrant investor green card is appealing but isn’t for everyone. Most applicants must prove they can and will invest nearly a million dollars before they may be considered for a visa. That’s a steep price, even if it may speed up the process of receiving your green card significantly.
However, the EB-5 is becoming better known for a good reason. It is an appealing option for people with significant funds who come from countries with long wait times for green cards and visas. This visa may be the best choice for you if you meet the following criteria:
- You want a clear path to your green card
- You come from a country with a large population, like China or India
- You can afford to make the investment
- You do not have a degree in a specialized field, do not want to seek an employment sponsor, or have an expiring visa that cannot be renewed.
If this describes you, an immigrant investor card may be the right choice.
Prepare for Your Green Card Application With Litwin & Smith
While no immigration application is easy, the EB-5 can be particularly complex and costly. You can work with the skilled immigration attorneys at Litwin & Smith to ensure your application is complete, accurate, and meets USCIS standards. Our firm has decades of experience successfully representing people applying for employment and immigration visas in California and nationwide. Learn how we can help you by scheduling your consultation today.