An immigrant investor must file an initial immigrant petition and supporting documentation to receive EB-5 immigrant classification. The immigrant investor will be a conditional permanent resident upon adjustment of status or admission to the United States.

The petitioner must establish he or she meets the following eligibility requirements when filing the Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor (Form I-526): 

  • The required amount of capital has been invested or is actively in the process of being invested in the new commercial enterprise;
  • The investment capital was obtained by the investor through lawful means;
  • The new commercial enterprise will create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees; and 
  • The immigrant investor is or will be engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise.

If the immigrant investor seeks to qualify based on a reduced (50 percent of the standard minimum) investment amount, it is necessary to show the new commercial enterprise or job-creating entity, as applicable, is principally doing business in a TEA.

At the preliminary Form I-526 filing stage, the immigrant investor must demonstrate his or her commitment to invest the capital, but does not need to establish the required capital already has been fully invested. The investment requirement is met if the immigrant investor demonstrates that he or she is actively in the process of investing the required capital. However, evidence of a mere intent to invest or of prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment will not suffice.

At this preliminary stage, the immigrant investor does not need to establish the required jobs have already been created. The job creation requirement is met by the immigrant investor demonstrating it is more likely than not the required jobs will be created.

A. Petitions Associated with Regional Centers

Each regional center investor must demonstrate that he or she has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, lawfully obtained capital in a new commercial enterprise located within a designated regional center in the United States. The investor must also demonstrate that this investment will create at least 10 direct or indirect full-time jobs for qualifying employees.

As part of the determination of whether a regional center investor has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, in a new commercial enterprise located within a regional center, an officer reviews the regional center’s geographic boundaries. If the regional center has requested to expand its geographic area, USCIS adjudicates the petition based on the following:

  • Any requests for geographic area expansion made on or after February 22, 2017 are adjudicated under the current guidance in the Form I-924 instructions which require that a Form I-924 amendment must be filed, and approved, to expand the regional center’s geographic area. The Form I-924 amendment must be approved before an I-526 petitioner may demonstrate eligibility at the time of filing his or her petition based on an investment in the expanded area.
  • If the regional center’s geographic area expansion request was submitted either through a Form I-924 amendment or Form I-526 petition filed prior to February 22, 2017, and the request is ultimately approved, USCIS will continue to adjudicate additional Form I-526 petitions associated with investments in that area under prior policy guidance issued on May 30, 2013.  That policy did not require a formal amendment to expand a regional center’s geographic area, and permitted concurrent filing of the Form I-526 prior to approval of the geographic area amendment. 

The immigrant investor must provide a copy of the regional center’s most recently issued approval letter. In addition, if the immigrant investor is relying on previously approved project-specific documentation (including the comprehensive business plan, economic analysis, and organizational and transactional documents) to satisfy his or her burden of proof, the immigrant investor must submit this documentation with his or her Form I-526 petition. This is required even though the regional center previously submitted and USCIS reviewed the documentation with a regional center’s Application for Regional Center Under the Immigrant Investor Program (Form I-924). 

When USCIS has evaluated and approved certain aspects of an EB-5 investment, USCIS generally defers to that favorable determination at a subsequent stage in the EB-5 process. USCIS does not, however, defer to a previously favorable decision in later proceedings when, for example, the underlying facts upon which a favorable decision was made have materially changed, there is evidence of fraud or misrepresentation, or the previously favorable decision is determined to be legally deficient.

B. Stand-Alone Petitions

An immigrant investor not associated with a regional center must, together with the petition, demonstrate that he or she has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, lawfully obtained capital in a new commercial enterprise located within the United States that will create at least 10 direct full-time jobs for qualifying employees.

C. Material Change

A petitioner must establish eligibility at the time of filing and a petition cannot be approved if, after filing, the immigrant investor becomes eligible under a new set of facts or circumstances. Changes that are considered material that occur after the filing of an immigrant investor petition will result in the investor’s ineligibility if the investor has not obtained conditional permanent resident status.

If material changes occur after the approval of the immigrant petition, but before the investor has obtained conditional permanent residence, such changes would constitute good and sufficient cause to issue a notice of intent to revoke and, if not overcome, would constitute good cause to revoke the approval of the petition. A change is material if the changed circumstances would have a natural tendency to influence or are predictably capable of affecting the decision.

Changes that occur in accordance with a business plan and other supporting documents as filed will generally not be considered material. For example, if at the time of filing the immigrant petition, no jobs have yet been created, but after approval of the immigrant petition and before the investor has obtained conditional permanent resident status, the investment in the new commercial enterprise results in the creation of 10 jobs in accordance with the investor’s business plan as filed, such a change would not be considered material.

If the organizational documents for a new commercial enterprise contain a liquidation provision, that does not otherwise constitute an impermissible debt arrangement, the documents may generally be amended to remove such a provision in order to allow the new commercial enterprise to continue to operate through the regional center immigrant investor’s period of conditional permanent residence. Such an amendment would generally not be considered a material change because facts related to the immigrant investor’s Form I-526 eligibility would not change.

If, at the time of adjudication, the investor is asserting eligibility under a materially different set of facts that did not exist when he or she filed the immigrant petition, the investor must file a new Form I-526 immigrant petition.

Further, if a regional center immigrant investor changes the regional center with which his or her immigrant petition is associated after filing the Form I-526 petition, whether occurring during an initial or further deployment of capital, the change constitutes a material change to the petition. Similarly, the termination of a regional center associated with a regional center immigrant investor’s Form I-526 petition constitutes a material change to the petition.