The US has long been a preferred destination for students around the world seeking high-quality education and diverse cultural experiences. Among the various visa options available to international students, the EB-5 visa program provides an attractive pathway for Indian students who wish to pursue their education while also obtaining a permanent residency in the US.
The EB-5 visa, also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, allows foreign nationals to obtain a U.S. green card by making a qualifying investment in the country. This visa program not only offers a unique opportunity for Indian students to study in the United States but also provides a pathway to permanent residency for them and their immediate family members.
In fact, the EB-5 concurrent filling allows those on non-immigrant visas in the US to get their status adjusted while filing I-526E petitions. In this article, we will take you through the fundamentals of the EB 5 visa and how it can change the study abroad game altogether while opening up a vast range of possibilities at the same time.
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What is EB 5 Visa?
Created in 1990 by the US government, the EB 5 Visa programme allows immigrant businessmen to invest in businesses in the US and simultaneously get lawful permanent residence for themselves and their families.
This visa is also known as Golden Visa and offers a Green Card to those who make huge investments and create at least ten jobs in the country. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the EB 5 visa aimed to stimulate the US economy.
On March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the EB-5 scheme under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act 2002, where the minimum investment amount was hiked to USD 800,000 from USD 500,000 in targeted employment areas and from USD 1,000,000 to USD 1,050,000 in non-targeted unemployment areas.
You can consider for EB 5 visa as soon as you enter the USA with an F-1 visa. You can get EB 5 visa not only for yourself but also for your spouse and children under 21 years of age.
Processing Time for E-B5 Visa
The processing time for an E-B5 visa depends on the country from which you are applying. For most countries, the time is around 18 to 24 months to get a green card with full working and travel rights. Countries with high demand can take up to 10 years to complete the whole process. For India, the time is between 29 to 60 months.
Why Should Indian Students Prefer EB 5 Visa?
According to the current scenario, Indian students generally go to study in USA with an F-1 visa and then apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) to stay back in the country. The OPT programme is usually of one-year duration which can be extended by two years for STEM graduates.
After that, they apply for an H1B visa which is a work permit that allows foreign workers to work for US companies. At this point, they are sponsored by the foreign company that hires them. The employer pays the visa fees and completes the paperwork on behalf of the employee. This visa is valid for three years and later it can be extended up to six years. However, you must note that it is difficult to change employers under an H1B visa or negotiate pay and other work conditions.
In such circumstances, EB 5 visa comes into play which allows Indian and other international students to study, work and live freely in the USA. Here are some of the reasons why you should prefer EB 5 visa routes over other immigration routes:
Lower Tuition Fees at Universities: In US state universities, you will have to pay lower tuition fees than your other international peers. If you study in the same state of residence, then you are eligible for in-state tuition fees.
More Financial Aid and Scholarships: US universities offer scholarships to students for studying with them. For international students, the options are highly competitive and limited. However, as an EB 5 visa holder, you have a higher chance to get a scholarship from the universities. Also the state, centre and institutions provide grants to students depending on their needs which you can access if you are a green card holder.
No Restrictions on Employment during Course: If you are an international student, you will face restrictions on working in the USA. You will have to work on campus and have limited job options off-campus. With EB 5 visa you can work freely off campus like your American friends without any restrictions imposed.
Better Employment Prospects upon Graduation: The most fruitful benefit of an EB 5 visa is that it removes the stress of getting work authorisation after graduation. Green card holders have enough time to find good employment opportunities and negotiate for a salary which is not available to those on F-1 visas or OPT. You can work anywhere in the US legally.
How Does EB 5 Concurrent Filing Help International Students?
One of the most effective ways of enjoying the benefits of a Green Card without actually owning one is through EB 5 concurrent filing. With the US government giving the green signal to EB 5 concurrent filing, the investors can also apply for green cards and adjustment of status. Investors can quickly shift from H1B or EB 2 visas. And get unrestricted work permission in the US.
Now, investors can file their I-526 and I-485 petitions simultaneously and do not have to wait for the I-526 approval before applying for a change in status. Anyone with an F-1 visa can apply for this EB 5 visa with a current priority date. One has to provide the necessary documents and complete the paperwork to apply for EB 5 program. Concurrent filing enables investors to freely live and study while their I-526 visa is being processed.
Steps to Get an EB 5 Visa for an Indian Student
The EB-5 visa reduces the stress of sponsorship for jobs or renewing visas. They can also apply for US citizenship after five years of receiving permanent residency if EB-5 visa conditions are met. The steps to get an EB 5 visa are:
Find a Project to Invest in
The first step towards getting an EB 5 visa is to invest in an EB 5 project which is sponsored by EB 5 Regional Centres. You must do thorough research as all investments do not pay off well and there is always the risk of losing money.
Invest in the Project
Once you choose an EB 5 project you must make a one-time investment of USD 900,000. The investment must be at a risk for at least five years. The investment must create at least ten employees in targeted employment areas (TEAs).
File I-526 Petition
The attorney prepares this petition and you have to file it. This document is proof that you are investing or in the process of investing the amount required in a suitable EB 5 project.
Conditional Permanent Residency
If the I-526 petition is approved, then you will get a conditional permanent residency of two years. During this period you cannot leave the US for more than two years.
I-485 Adjustment of Status
If you are a resident of the USA, you will have to file an I-485 Adjustment of Status to move the current visa status to an unconditional green card. Now both I-526 and I-485 petitions can be filed concurrently.
Unconditional Permanent Residency
Finally, you will have to fill out Form I-829 to become an unconditional permanent resident after two years of conditional permanent residency.
Documents Required for E-B5 Visa
USCIS administers the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program for international students to promote economic growth in the US and also provide several benefits to foreigners. The documentation process is extremely vital for the successful completion of the E-B5 visa procedure. The documents required for an E-B5 visa are:
Passports of family members
Household registration documents
Evidence of business ownership
Evidence of any former immigration applications
Proof of source for the sum of investment
Detailed EB5 business plan
Position/Title statement and duty descriptions
Organizational documents and agreement of partnership
Bank statements and tax returns for the last 5 years
Documentation of any other sources of capital
Approved I-526 petition proving that the investment process has started
The EB-5 visa program in USA provides Indian students with an exciting opportunity to pursue their educational goals while concurrently applying for permanent residency. Studying in the United States offers numerous benefits, including access to top-tier educational institutions, exposure to a diverse culture, and potential career opportunities. By understanding the steps and requirements involved in the EB-5 visa application process, Indian students can navigate their way to a successful educational and immigration journey in USA.
Our study abroad consultants have been guiding students regarding F-1 visa procedures, OPT and EB 5 visas.
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