Thanks for all the replies. We have been researching into this EB-5 stuff, and it's somewhat confusing, but we think we have most of it nailed down. Here's a brief summary of what we found so far:
- There are 2 kinds of EB-5 visas: the ones where you invest in a qualified RC (Resource Center), and the ones where you don't.
- For the RC EB-5, minimum investiment is $500K, for the non-RC, it's $1M.
- If you take the RC route (best for us, as no active management is necessary), you will pay RC fees (around $50K - $70K) and also lawyer fees (around $10K-20K);
- You need to start by selecting an RC; for example, Jay Peak
is apparently well regarded. You will then need to commit the U$500K investment funds (it's recommended to do that on a scrow basis, so that if your I-526 form is rejected for any reason, you can receive the $500K back immediately).
- You will also need a lawyer to help you with the legal aspects and also to fill the paperwork.
- When you apply for the VISA, you start by submitting an I-526 application to the USCIS; this is reported as taking from 3 to 5 months to be approved. When it's approved, you must then submit an I-485 application; this one takes from 3 to 12 months, and upon its approval you and your family (wife and kids under 21 years of age) are granted an immediate temporary greencard VISA that enables you to do anything on the US (live, work, etc) for 2 years. Instead of the I-485, it seems one can also do an "IV application" that is supposed to be faster, but it seems you have to be physically in the US already to do that (we weren't able to find much info regarding this IV application).
- 90 days before these 2 years expire, you must submit an I-829 application to the UCIS, with supporting documents (provided by the RC) proving you have created at least 10 jobs; after at least 6 months processing time (and it seems it can take much longer), if all goes well, you will have the conditions on your (and your family's) greencards removed, which makes it a permanent greencard.
- I-526 and I-829 approvals are anything but granted; in fact, we have seen rejection rates as high as 20% being reported; Unfortunately, USCIS doesn't keep or publish any records on the rejection reasons (but people believe it's mainly failure at creating the required 10 jobs).
- We searched for track records for each Regional Center; the idea is that the RC with the best rates of approval would have the best management, and so would not only provide the best chances of greencard approvals but also of getting your investment money back. It seems that there's no hard data on this, as USCIS reportedly keeps no RC-related statistics on approvals/rejections. On the other hand, some RCs (like the aforementioned Jay Peak) reports that they have (so far) 100% approval rates for both I-526 and I-829 submissions.
Anyone who has more experience or info about these matters and can comment on or rectify the above, please do! We are not in the US and much less have talked to an immigration lawyer so far, and all our information was collected from on-line resources, so anything you can add is more than welcome.
Vall & Mo.
PS: some of the online resources which we found are:Wikipedia page on EB-5 (worse than most Wikipedia pages);USCIS page on EB-5 (the official word)Jay Peak's EB-5 siteAn immigration lawyer's site with lots of info on EB-5