I plan to lease a closed restaurant in a TEA, do some renovation and reopen it. I will have more than 10 new full-time employees. Running the business will cost $30,000 to $45,000 per month. That means in two years, more than $500,000 will be invested. I am on a J-1 visa and I currently own another restaurant in the same area. Is there any way to use this closed business for EB-5? If so, can I file my application now or do I have to wait until the full investment reaches $500,000?
Only when you have invested the full $500,000 can you file the I-526 petition. To direct the U.S. business today, you will have to be in possession of a work visa. Also, please review your J-1 visa that shows you are not subject to a two-year residency requirement.
Yes, you can organize the business now. However, you should have a sound business plan that details how you intend to put into practice all your ideas and meet the EB-5 requirements. If you already have a restaurant in operation and intend to open more, you should seriously consider organizing all the restaurants under a parent company. Next, consider using the parent company for EB-5 direct investment you have in mind. This will allow you to meet EB-5 requirements, particularly the creation of minimum jobs. Advisably, consult an EB-5 attorney in organizing your ideas for eventual applications.
First, make sure the workers are U.S. workers who qualify. Second, you need a business plan. While the regulations say invested or "in the process", you need to identify the funds since the amount is going up to $900,000 on Nov. 21, 2019. There is an issue of how you can do this while on a trainee visa and may want to look at other options for your current status.
USCIS says you have to put in the whole $500,000 before filing for EB-5. This issue in in the courts right now. But the minimum investment goes up to $900,000 on Nov. 21.
You need to file your I-526 petition before Nov. 21, 2019, and all funds do not need to be expended at the outset, but check the details with an immigration attorney in EB-5 representation.
You will need to be fully invested to file the I-526. Note the amount increases to $900,000 after Nov. 21, 2019, and USCIS must determine it still qualifies for TEA status after that date.
Unfortunately, you cannot execute the plan you outlined. According to USCIS, 8 C.F.R. ? 204.6(j) states, "in pertinent part, that: (2) To show that the petitioner has invested or is actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital, the petition must be accompanied by evidence that the petitioner has placed the required amount of capital at risk for generating a return on the capital placed at risk. Evidence of mere intent to invest, or of prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment, will not suffice to show that the petitioner is actively in the process of investing. The alien must show actual commitment of the required amount of capital." Besides, it is not clear how you could actively manage your restaurant with a J-1 student visa. If you simply own the restaurant but have no active role in running it, I suppose that is OK. You should be careful with that. If you put yourself in a position to appear like you are managing or working with a J-1 visa, you could have major issues in the future when you decide to apply for an immigrant intent visa such as EB-5, as generally speaking, J-1 visa holders are required to work only for their program sponsors.
You can file your application now. You need to work closely with your immigration attorney to prepare a business plan showing the project will cost and need the $500,000.
You have to be in the process of investing $500,000. If you don't have that money available now, you cannot do it.
The minimum required investment does not have to be a full amount at one time before filing. Your business plan should be reasonably convincing that the total amount of investment will be sufficient for EB-5 TEA. Just make sure your status and employment authorization do not conflict with your J-1 classification.
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