EB-5 Expedited Processing vs. Other Processes

Uglobal Immigration Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 1

Article By Edward Beshara

Regarding the future of the EB-5 program in the U.S., let’s look at what the global trends of the citizenship and residency by investment programs are for other countries and its effect on the competitiveness of the U.S. EB-5 program. 

Based upon these global trends, the foreign national investor, who is interested in obtaining residency in the U.S. will need to analyze the best options, especially from a timeline and cost standpoint for visa entry into the U.S.  

The CRBI programs are very competitive compared to the U.S. EB-5 program. The majority of these global CRBI programs will approve either residency or citizenship to a particular country based on the foreign national investors personal investment (average $ 350,000) into real estate in the particular country. Some countries will approve residency status within several weeks, or citizenship status within few months. 

For most foreign national investors who intend to reside in the U.S., the ultimate goal is to personally invest their funds into an EB-5 Regional Center Project. The minimum investment is $500,000 plus an administration fee with an estimated average if $ 50,000 and attorney fees and costs. 

However, the timeline to obtain conditional permanent residency under the EB-5 program is lengthy based upon bureaucratic delays in adjudication of the investors petitions.  The bureaucracy, which includes the United States Citizenship Immigration Service and the EB-5 office, are applying unusually strict interpretations on the legal compliance of the EB-5 project supporting documentation and the foreign national investors authentication of the lawful source and transfer of personal investment funds. As a result, the USCIS will issue Requests for Further Evidence, which will cause further delays. 

SPEEEDING UP THE PROCESS FOR EB-5 

The EB-5 process to approve conditional permanent residency for foreign national investors, which is a 2,5 to 3,5 years process, is definitely not competitive with the global CRBI programs. 

However, there is good news for the EB-5 Regional Center program. Current EB-5 laws, regulations, and policy can authorize the foreign national investors petitions to be expedited. That is, the processing time for adjudication can be as quick as 41 days. There is an estimate of 90 days period for petition adjudication.  

Currently, there are about 600 EB-5 Regional Center Projects in the U.S. All these projects involve normal EB-5 petition and conditional permanent residency timelines. However, there are two EB-5 Regional Center Projects, known to the author, which have been approved by the Federal government for the I-526 petitions to be expedited. [1] 

Chapter 12 of the USCIS Policy Manual (May 23, 2018) states the criterion for the U.S. government to approve expedited petitions. The criterion includes, severe financial loss to the company; humanitarian reasons; and national interest (the request must come from an official of the U.S. government entity and the delay will be detrimental to the government). 

On this basis, the official USCIS policy is for the EB-5 officers in the adjudication process to comply with the authorized decision for the petitions to be expedited. 

The foreign national investor with their filing of the EB-5 I-526 investors petition, will submit authorization letters from the USCIS approving the petitions to be expedited. As a result, there will be deference, given by the EB-5 adjudicators to the expedited process for all subsequently filed I-526 petitions.  

USCIS will give deference to the approval of the EB-5 Regional Center documentation based upon previously approved I-526 petitions or USCIS Exemplar I-526 project pre-approval. Hence, the only review by the USCIS adjudicator will be on the authentication of the lawful source and transfer of the foreign national investors personal investment funds. 

ALTERNATIVE VISA OPTION OF E-2 

Before the availability of the expedited EB-5 project, foreign national investors were choosing alternative visa options for quick entry into the U.S. 

Foreign national investors, who are citizens of E-2 treaty investor countries, have the opportunity of buying a U.S. business to be the basis for entry into the U.S. in a few months. The investment may be $150,000 plus professional fees of $ 25,000 plus costs. The E-2 visa will allow the investor, spouse and family members to obtain an E-2 visa for entry into the U.S. and status for 2-year increments. 

The E-2 visa does not automatically lead to U.S. permanent residency. However, the foreign national investor can convert the E-2 visa to the EB-5 investor process. 

The additional investment of $350,000 will be required into the U.S. business assuming the minimum investment amount is $500,000. The additional professional fees for the EB-5 structure and attorney representation may be $75,000. To operate the U.S. E-2 business during the EB-5 process to obtain U.S. conditional permanent residency, the costs (operation and payroll costs) may be an estimated $2 million. As a result, for the foreign national investor to enter the U.S. under E-2 and convert to EB-5 conditional permanent residency, the cost to the investor is an estimated $2,75 million and the length of time is estimated at between 2,5 to 3,5 years. 

THE BENEFIT OF CITIZENSHIP OF GRENADA 

There are many foreign national investors and their spouses who are not citizens of E-2 treaty countries. These investors still desire to enter the U.S. quickly under the E-2 visa. The foreign national investors have the ability to apply for citizenship in Grenada for $ 350,000 to invest in real estate plus professional fees of an estimated $50,000. The process may take 4 months. 

As stated above, adding the E-2 to EB-5 conversion in the U.S., there will be additional time delays and costs. 

Therefore, for the foreign national investor to obtain new citizenship in Grenada, apply for an E-2 visa and convert the E-2 to visa to EB-5 conditional permanent residency, the costs are estimated at $3,15 million while the processing time or delays are between 3 to years. 

Compared to an EB-5 Regional Center Project, the costs are estimated at $585,000 with the normal processing time of 2,5 to nearly 4 years to obtain conditional permanent residency. 

The expedited EB-5 Regional Center Project has the advantages of the lowest cost to obtain conditional permanent residency and the fastest for an estimated eight months. 

There is no need for the foreign national investor to pursue E-2 visa for quick entry into the U.S. and spend substantially more investment funds when the expedited EB-5 petition process is available. 

The I-526 petition expedited process will reduce the uncompetitive processing time from 2-4 years to just a few months, which for all EB-5 investors can be substantially beneficial to their financial success and family goals for a quick and competitive residency entry into the U.S. 

Notes:

[1] This article is not endorsing or approving the business or investment viability of any EB-5 Regional Center Project. 

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About the Author
Edward Beshara
Edward Beshara

Edward Beshara is the managing partner of Beshara Global Migration Law Firm in Florida. He has been practicing U.S. business immigration law for over 35 years and EB-5 law for 27 years. He is an active member of Invest in the USA and serves on its New EB-5 Markets and Best Practices Committees. He is also the past president of AILA's Central Florida Chapter and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Investment Migration Council. He is among the Top 25 EB-5 Immigration Attorneys in the EB5 Investors Magazine and has been a speaker on many national and global EB-5 panels.