Edward C. Beshara
Attorney at Law/Managing Partner, Beshara Global Migration Law Firm
There is good news for the EB-5 Regional Center program, but it comes with a caveat. Current EB-5 laws and policy can authorize a foreign national investor’s petitions to be expedited — that is, the processing time for adjudication can be as quick as 41 days, and we can estimate a typical 90-day period for expedited petition adjudication. This is obviously substantially quicker than 2.5–3.5 years.
Furthermore, 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 USCIS adjudicator’s only review will be on the authentication of the lawful source and transfer of the foreign national investor’s personal investment funds.
However, to expedite petitions, the EB-5 project will have to prove that I-526 expedited processing will be in the national interest (among other factors). Only a handful of projects would be able to prove this, so while it is an attractive possibility, it is not realistic for the majority of investors. The possibility of expedited processing aside, the fact remains that — even compared to the standard EB-5 adjudication timelines — investors’ efforts to obtain U.S. temporary work visas quickly often result in increased cost, with no substantial decrease in time spent.
Here’s one example of a path to residency that may seem like a shortcut, but isn’t: Foreign national investors who are citizens of E-2 treaty investor countries have the opportunity to buy a U.S. business as the basis for their entry into the U.S., and this process normally takes just a few months. The investment may be $150,000 (plus costs) with additional professional fees of $25,000 (plus costs). The E-2 visa will allow the investor, spouse and family members to obtain temporary E-2 visa for entry into the U.S., as well as temporary resident status in 2-year increments. Subsequent to this, the E-2 can be converted into an EB-5.
To convert the E-2 to an EB-5, an additional investment of $350,000 will be required into the U.S. business, assuming the minimum investment amount is $500,000 and the investor has purchased the business for $150,000 (and that the $150,000 initial investment has led to new job creation). The additional professional fees for the EB-5 structure and attorney representation may be $75,000. This is comparable to EB-5 costs so far.
However, to operate the U.S. E-2 business during the EB-5 adjudication process could be costly indeed — the total expenditure (operation and payroll costs) may be an estimated $2,000,000. Even though the U.S. business may generate revenue, there are still costs that have to be taken care of. 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 may be an estimated $2,575,000, and the length of time is still estimated at between two and a half (2 ½) and three and a half (3 ½) years. There are many foreign national investors and their spouses who are not citizens of E-2 treaty countries. These 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.
Therefore, for the foreign national investor to obtain new citizenship in Grenada, apply for an E-2 visa, and convert the E-2 visa to EB-5 conditional permanent residency, the costs are estimated at $2,975,000, and total processing time may be 3 to 4 years. Compare this to an EB-5 Regional Center Project: total costs are estimated at $585,000, with a normal (non-expedited) processing time of 2.5–3.5 years to obtain conditional permanent residency.
There is no need for the foreign national investor seeking quick entry into the U.S. to pursue an E-2 visa — and potentially spend substantially more — when compared to the standard EB-5 path.