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How can I apply for EB-5 if I am holding a F-1 student visa?

I am currently studying in the U.S. with an F-1 student visa. I am very interested in applying for EB-5 but I am wondering if I should apply now or after I graduate and return to my home country, which is India. My major concern is that because F-1 is a non-immigrant visa and EB-5 is an immigrant application, if I leave the country for vacation and try to enter again while my EB-5 is pending, I could have problems. Please advise.

Answers

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Generally, if you file an I-526 petition and indicate you will consular process for an immigrant visa in your home country rather than adjust status in the U.S., you may get admitted to the U.S. while traveling on a valid F-1 visa and if you have a strong F-1 student record. There is never a 100 percent guarantee that this in fact will be true at the U.S. border. The best option is to always be truthful with government officials and to apply for EB-5 sooner rather than later since India will experience an immigrant visa backlog sometime in the not-so-distant future, as it is currently estimated.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    This is an issue but not necessarily a problem. Indian F-1 visas are usually valid for five years. Simply be truthful with the officer that your primary purpose is to study. Of course, you can only say this if it is true. If you have good grades and are a serious student, I doubt many officers will refuse admission. In regards to applying for a new visa, that can be challenging but again, my experience is most consuls will not deny a student visa to a good student because they filed an immigrant petition.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As an Indian national in the U.S. with F-1 non-immigrant student status, you are certainly able to file an EB-5 Investor petition with Form I-526. Generally speaking, given the growing backlog under the quota for Indian nationals, the sooner you file, the better. However, it could impact your F-1 student status conditions. If you needed to travel abroad which would necessitate the possibility of having to renew your F-1 non-immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in India, and being subject to immigration inspection when seeking re-admission into the U.S. at a port of entry in F-1 status, you could possibly be denied entry on the grounds that an F-1 non-immigrant student, by definition, must intend to return to their home country; and by definition, having filed an EB-5 investor petition, you have indicated that you intend to immigrate to the United States. Thus, you have a conflict. The sooner you file, the better. If you do, I would recommend that you not travel abroad for vacations.

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    Dale Schwartz

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can apply for an EB-5 visa even if you are in F-1 status now. You will have to show you have a net worth of $1 million. We have several clients who have applied for EB-5 and continued to maintain their student status. So far, none of them have had trouble traveling in and out of the USA. We cannot guarantee that this will not change in the future. Since the quotas from India are likely to go backward, we are recommending that our Indian clients apply for EB-5 sooner rather than later. Plus, Congress is discussing raising the minimum EB-5 investment to over $1 million soon.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    That is true. You could have a problem but it is likely going to be OK if you set up for consular processing. Always explain, if asked, that yes, you are applying through the EB-5 program but this will take several years. In the meantime, you always plan to maintain status and will be returning at the end of your F-1 to work or go to school and await immigrant visa processing in your home country. No guarantees, but this usually works if you are honest.

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    Belma Chinchoy

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You should not have problems entering on an F-1 while EB-5 is pending so long as you are entering for legitimate F-1 activities. Your attorney will advise you regarding any travel while EB-5 is pending.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can start the process now. Since the EB-5 petition is currently taking two years to process, having the petition filed should not affect your ability to study/travel on the current F-1 status.

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    Marko Issever

    EB-5 Broker Dealer
    Answered on

    You should not have any problems. If you look around, most of the applicants of EB-5 visas are, in fact, F-1 visa-holding students. As long as when you re-enter the United States, your F-1 is still valid, you have a current I-20, you are still a student in the U.S .and you can document that to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in case they question you, you should be fine. When they ask you at the gate when you enter the purpose of your visit, you should say, "To continue my studies." The existence of a filed I-526 should not preclude you from being able to freely travel back home.

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    A Olusanjo Omoniyi

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can apply for EB-5 in spite of being on F-1 student visa. Advisably, consult an EB-5 attorney to put your plan in operation.

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    Vaughan de Kirby

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Many of our clients have successfully applied for EB-5 while holding an F-1 visa. However, your concerns about traveling home are valid. I recommend you meet with an investment immigration attorney who can advise you on the strategy to go forward. EB-5 is an excellent program with a very predictable path to a green card.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You have some good instincts here. You will benefit from having an immigration attorney represent you and advise you on all aspects of the immigration process, and be able to plan for the various steps toward a green card.

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