The EB-5 Investment visa is a program set-up by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) that sets aside 10,000 green cards every year for immigrants who make a minimum investment of $500,000 into a dedicated EB-5 project.
With such a substantial investment, it’s of no real surprise that investors will want to include as many family members as possible under the program. While the rules clearly state that the successful applicant is eligible to bring his/her immediate family including their spouse and any children under the age of 21, we often get asked to clarify on how this applies in a number of circumstances.
Each case is different and while it’s recommended that you speak to one of our immigration lawyers to discuss your own unique circumstances, there are some general guidelines that apply in the majority of cases.
Do stepchildren qualify?
Yes, if the investor married the biological parent of the stepchild before they reached 18 years of age. If the stepchild is over 18, but the investor has either no biological children, or children under the age of 18, then a possible alternative would be to “gift” the funds to a spouse who would then become the primary investor. In this instance all children would be covered under the program.
What if my children are close to 21?
Children who are close to their 21 will still be eligible but their application (called the I-526 petition) will need to be filed before they reach their 21st birthday. In most cases the I-526 petition includes the Child Status Protection Act that essentially “locks in” the child’s age at the time of application.
Once the I-526 petition is approved, the period that the I-526 petition was pending will be deducted from the child’s age. However this may not be sufficient if there is a backlog of applications.
How does a backlog of applications affect children under 21?
Up until 2014 the world never reached the annual limit of 10,000 green cards issued under the EB-5 program. It is expected that this limit will be surpassed in the fiscal year of 2015.
Once reached, the US Department of State will establish a cut-off date in EB-5 applications where only investors with approved I-526 cases will be eligible to proceed with processing. If the applicant has to wait due to a visa backlog, then the time during which they must for this visa will not be deducted from their age—and they therefore could possibly exceed the age limit, i.e. become 21 or older as defined by USCIS (not actual years) and therefore no longer eligible for the visa.
Due to the sheer number of EB-5 applications made from China, it is expected that China will be the only country that will be subject to these delays. Investors from all other countries are expected to proceed without any problems.
Do my parents, brothers and sisters qualify under the EB-5 program?
Unfortunately parents, brothers and sisters are not eligible under the EB-5 visa. If you would like to petition for them to join you in America, you would need to wait until you become a U.S. citizen first. This can be applied for 5 years after being granted a green card.
If you’re interested in living or retiring to the United States, please visit our EB-5 Investment page for the latest development project.