Congratulations – your I-526 petition was approved! But now what…?
There are several stages involved in the process of obtaining a green card through the EB-5 immigrant investor program. First, an investor must file an I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once USCIS approves the I-526 petition, investors and their dependent family members who are outside of the United States must apply for their immigrant visas through consular processing.
Prior to the date of the interview, the National Visa Center (NVC) will receive a copy of the applicant’s approved I-526 petition from USCIS. Within a few months of approval of the I-526 petition, the NVC will notify the applicant and each dependent family member applying for a green card with a list of required civil documents and information to prepare for the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of citizenship. Such civil documents include copies of the DS-260 immigrant visa electronic application, a passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, sealed medical examination results, birth certificates, color passport photographs, marriage certificates, police certificates and divorce decrees, if applicable. Documents not written in English or in the official language of the country in which the interview takes place must be accompanied by an English translation.
The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will also ask for evidence that the I-526 investor’s capital investment funds were released from escrow by the EB-5 project. This is typically demonstrated by presenting a letter from the financial institution that is managing the project’s escrow account.
On the day of the scheduled immigrant visa interview appointment, each applicant should plan to arrive at the U.S. Embassy early with all of the required documents requested by the NVC. While applicants may be asked to wait for long periods of time at the U.S. Embassy, the immigrant visa interview itself usually does not last more than 30-45 minutes.
During the immigrant visa interview, the Consular Officer will assess an applicant’s admissibility into the United States by reviewing the DS-260 application and civil documents, and asking questions on the information contained therein. Therefore, preparation is key – it is crucial that a foreign national review the submitted application and civil documents prior to the appointment.
Applicants may be found inadmissible for immigration to the United States for a number of reasons, including prior criminal violations, past illegal entry into the United States, and misrepresentations about material facts in both past nonimmigrant visa applications and the instant immigrant visa application. Individuals should be prepared to answer questions relating to prior entries into the United States and U.S. immigration-related history including visa overstays, military service, Communist party membership, criminal history, divorces, and any inconsistencies in applications previously submitted to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Recently, Consular Officers have been cracking down on “birth tourism,” in which foreign nationals purposefully misrepresent their intent to give birth in the United States at their B visa interview. Thus, individuals who previously obtained a B visa and entered the United States shortly before giving birth should be prepared to explain the circumstances surrounding this event.
While such inadmissibility issues are certainly problematic in an immigrant visa interview, they are not always fatal. It is very important for foreign nationals to raise any possible problems with their immigration attorneys to properly prepare for the immigrant visa appointment, as many potential issues can be addressed beforehand.
Applicants should also read through the contents of their approved I-526 petition, familiarizing themselves with basic information about the project into which the EB-5 capital investment was made as well as the source of funds of the EB-5 investment. Consular Officers often ask specific questions regarding the investor’s source of funds and path of funds, the amount of money invested, when the EB-5 project was established, and the purpose of the project.
Provided the immigrant visa interview is successful and the application is approved, the foreign national’s passport will be returned several days later with the completed immigrant visa. Occasionally, visas are not issued immediately when applications require further administrative processing. Applicants will be advised of this requirement at the time of the visa interview and most administrative processing will be resolved within 60 days of the visa appointment. Certain consular posts are known for having more extensive delays due to administrative processing and foreign nationals applying in these countries may be encouraged to apply for their immigrant visas through adjustment of status within the United States when possible.
In the end, with the required documentation in hand, proper preparation, and assistance by our team of experienced attorneys, the immigrant visa process should be painless for most EB-5 immigrant investors.