How Long Does It Take For EB-5 Visa To Be Approved?

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Immigration publishes every country’s processing times for EB-5. They give dates of last approvals for all other immigration benefits, but they give only averages for EB-5 and the average right now for February 2016 is 14.4 months, for an I-526, which is the initial application where the investor has to pick out an investment, pay the amount by $550,000 or whatever the amount is and submit documents to prove source of funds.

Just to give an idea, our general package to prove all of that is like a box of materials. It is at least 12 inches of documents, so it is not like two or three documents, and then Immigration would have to go through those.

So, the average time this would take is 14 and a half months from the date of filing. Some cases only take 6 months, but those would be cases where immigration had already given their approval for a specific project. In other words, that means they would have approved the first case, which would include source of funds and the project.

Once they approved the project, the same examiner would get all of the other cases that were filed for that project. For example, let us suppose it was the Marriot Hotel in San Diego and there were a hundred investors. For the other 99, the examiner would not have to go over the project that he/she had already approved and all they would have to do is prove the source of funds.

These cases typically take about 6 months which is the current average. There are also cases that would be filed where Immigration would be having a problem with the project. Those cases could languish for over 2 years, so there are some people who are waiting over 2 years to get a I-526 approved, which is what the investor would need to wait for before they could even file for a green card.

Some people who get lucky when they apply for an I-526 to find an investment that already had an approval, although those are few and far between so it would be rare for those to just be available. There are usually one or two of those available, but then the investor would have to do their own due diligence and like that project.

The average time taken for getting a green card afterwards in the US, if the person was in the United States legally, would probably be 6 to 8 months, which is about the same time it would take if the person was getting it at the U.S. consulate, although those are really just rough figures.

We tell clients the average time to get a green card from date of filing would be about 2 years. If they happened to be fortunate enough to pick a project that had approvals, they could possibly cut a year off that and then they would be able to get their 2-year Green Card in a little more than a year.

What Happens To People Who Are Between The Application Process When The Law Changes?

Generally speaking, if someone had filed and they were in the process, the law based on the date they filed would generally apply to it. A number of immigration laws have been retroactive, and even a number of the provisions in the controversial bill that did not pass were retroactive.

For example, let us suppose someone filed on February 1st, and the legislation came out March 1st. They had filed before the date of the legislation, but the legislation stated that the law applied to everything that would have been filed before January 1st. In this case, what was filed on February 1st would be under the new law.

There would be no way of knowing, so it is a hit and miss. Immigration has had many regulations that unfortunately have been retroactive, and there have been a number of examples of that in the past EB-5 regulations that caused havoc to investors and to applicants. All of the lobbying tries to make everything from the date of enactment, which is usually what is seen as proper.

What Should People Watch Over The Next Year If They Were Interested In Pursuing An EB-5 Visa?

Once the new legislation comes in, there would probably be compromises.

The three hottest topics are that the agents would have to disclose how much they were making, what would be determined as a TEA, in other words, whether they could craft together a number of Census Tracts on average or not and who would have the responsibility for determining that, the states or the Immigration, meaning the federal government.

Finally there would be something relating to source of funds, and whether it would be more difficult to prove source of funds, which is already extremely difficult as it is.

It used to be that if an investor owned a piece of property like a home and they sold that home for a profit of $600,000, then they would have more than enough to invest $550,000 in a regional center program.

If they only owned it for 5 years, they would have to show where they got the money to buy that property, meaning they would have to trace it back 5 years. Immigration would ask how long the person owned that piece of property that they sold. If the person only had it for 3 years, then Immigration would tell the person to go back and show them from where they got that money.

It used to be 5 years, then it was 10 years, and now in certain cases immigration can also go back 15 years. It is getting more and more difficult to prove source of funds based on selling a piece of property.

We try to look for somebody who had a piece of property in the family for 25 years and they sold that, because then there would not be a requirement to have to go back 25 years because people would generally not keep anything from 25 years ago.

For more information on How Long Does The EB-5 Visa Take, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (310) 477-3000 today.

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