Frequently Asked Questions: Visas, Green Cards & Immigration Law
As a result of assisting hundreds of immigration clients with various visa matters in past years, our immigration lawyers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to check back often as this list is continually updated. Still have a question? Contact us today to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney.
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I am an EB-5 investor who is becoming a U.S. citizen. Can a San Francisco immigration attorney help if my child is still waiting for a visa when I am naturalized?
As a San Francisco immigration attorney at Jatoi & de Kirby, APC, people ask me this question all the time. Depending on the age and marital status of your children, you have a few options when bringing your dependents to live with you in the U.S. Under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), some dependents waiting for approval of their visa petitions may be considered children for immigration purposes—even if they have reached the age of 21.
Here are two ways the CSPA can expedite dependents’ visas after an EB-5 investor becomes a U.S. citizen:
- Opt-Out. In some cases, a permanent resident petitioner will file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for an unmarried dependent during the naturalization process. If the EB-5 resident becomes a citizen, his dependents’ visas are automatically converted to a first preference classification. However, his dependents can choose to remain in the second preference classification—also called opting-out—if the second preference visa has a shorter waiting time.
- Adjustment of Status. Dependents may be able to achieve permanent residence through Forms I-730 or I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence and Adjust Status). The forms needed depend on where they are living at the time of the EB-5 resident’s naturalization and their ages when the visa form was originally filed.
To find out how to bring your family members to the U.S. as quickly as possible, contact a San Francisco immigration lawyer at Jatoi & de Kirby, APC today at (415) 221-2345. For more information on business immigration, click the link on this page to order our FREE guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.
I recently filed for EB-5 adjustment of status. Can I work while my application is pending?
It depends. Most immigrants who have filed for EB-5 adjustment of status—Form I-485—are able to work as long as they have acquired an employment authorization prior to filing. It may take some time for USCIS to process your application, so it is important that your work authorization extends for the full length of time it takes to grant you your adjustment of status.
Here are a few things to remember about filing for adjustment of status:
- All applicants must obtain employment authorization unless they were admitted to the U.S. under a non-immigrant status that acknowledges employment authorization.
- Immigrants who are self-employed must still apply for employment authorization.
- Employment authorization applications typically take between 60 and 90 days to be adjudicated. If the immigrant’s application requires additional information or extended background checks, the decision may take longer.
- Applicants may be granted up to a year of employment authorization while the AOS process is completed. If the application process takes longer than one year, the applicant may have to re-apply for employment authorization.
It is important to keep your work authorization current and to apply for a renewal well in advance of an expiry date. Any length of U.S. employment without authorization may jeopardize your visa status and your family’s ability to apply for permanent residence. If you are unsure of your work status, our San Francisco EB-5 attorneys can advise you on what steps you need to take to maintain legal residency.
Call Jatoi & de Kirby, APC today at 415-221-2345 for more information, or order our FREE guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.
Should I use an EB-5 “escrow” account to transfer money to my California regional center?
While it is not required, many foreign investors will choose to use an EB-5 escrow account to transfer the initial amount of funds to their California business.
An escrow account is an interest-bearing bank account. This type of account is typically used to keep large amounts of money for sales of real estate, property, and businesses secure until all transactions are complete. In the case of an EB-5 investment, the business or regional center establishes the escrow account and the investor transfers the required amount of funds. The money is held in the account until official notification from USCIS that the petition has been approved, at which time the investment funds are disbursed to business or project.
In order to hold your EB-5 funds in an escrow account, you must ensure that:
- It is stated in the escrow agreement that the entire amount of required capital will be committed to the regional center or new commercial enterprise, and that funds will be immediately disbursed upon approval of the investor’s EB-5 petition.
- The bank or financial institution where the account is established must have no relationship to the immigrant, the new commercial enterprise, regional center or their affiliates.
- The escrow agreement should specify that the investor’s money will be returned if his EB-5 petition is denied or withdrawn.
Unfortunately, there are many disreputable third-parties that will offer escrow services to immigrants under false pretenses. Our EB-5 attorneys in San Francisco can help protect your investment even before it begins. Call Jatoi & de Kirby, APC today at (415) 221-2345 for more information, or order our FREE guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.
I am applying for an EB-5 visa in California, and my goal is permanent U.S. residence. Can my green card ever be taken away?
Yes. Once you receive a green card, there two major conditions that could cause it to be revoked. The first is if you are convicted of a serious crime; the second it is if you abandon your U.S. residence.
“Abandonment of residence” is the most common reason immigrants jeopardize their EB-5 visas in California. While you are allowed to travel with your green card, you must not establish a permanent residence anywhere other than the United States. If you stay out of the country for too long, USICS may assume that you have abandoned your U.S. residence.
If you will be out of the country for an indeterminate amount of time, you should:
- Inform INS of your travel plans. Letting the immigration department know that you will be traveling may avoid an inspection upon your return.
- Apply for a re-entry permit. Depending on the length of your absence, your green card may not be used as a viable U.S. entry document. You must apply for a reentry permit from USCIS before you leave the country.
- Maintain your residence. Actions such as closing your U.S. bank accounts or taking family members with you may be seen as abandoning your home in the U.S.
It is important to note that naturalization laws also require immigrants to be physically present in the U.S. for a period of time before they may acquire U.S. citizenship. Our EB-5 attorneys in San Francisco can help you protect you and your family if you need to travel abroad suddenly.
How do I change my California EB-5 conditional residence into permanent green card status?
Many EB-5 investors want to know what final steps they need to take in order to be granted permanent residence in the U.S. If you are already living in California, the process is fairly straightforward: you will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
While it only takes one official form to change your status, applicants will need to include many pieces of supporting evidence in order for Form I-485 to be approved. Petitioners should be prepared to submit the following documentation along with their application:
- A copy of your government-issued photo ID
- A copy of your birth certificate
- Two passport-sized photos of you
- A copy of your passport page with a previous non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
- A copy of passport page with previous entry stamp (if applicable)
- Certified copies of any arrest record or court records (if applicable)
- Form I-94 (Arrival/ Departure Record)
- Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record)
- Form G-325A (Biographic Information) for applicants between 14 and 79 years old
- An approved copy of your Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur)
Once these forms have been gathered and completed, you may submit your application to USICIS. If you wish to receive green cards for your spouse and unmarried children, they may be included on your immigration petition, but will all need to file separate Forms I-485 for consideration.
I am an EB-5 investor currently living in the U.S. How can I become a permanent resident?
Before you can become a permanent resident, you must first petition to have your immigrant status adjusted. This will make you a conditional permanent resident; after a period of time, the conditions may be removed, and you will lawfully be a permanent resident of the U.S.
In order to do this, you must have an approved Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Once you have a valid visa number, you can apply for conditional permanent residence using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Generally speaking, it can take between six months to one year to receive approval for Form I-485. Once you are approved, both you and your eligible family members may receive 2 years of “conditional” permanent resident status in the U.S. This may include spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.
During your two years of conditional residency, you must continue to operate under the conditions of your EB-5 visa, including upholding the job requirements of your position. Starting six months after your Form I-526, you are required to hire and maintain ten jobs at your company or enterprise of investment in order to maintain your visa status.
Our trusted San Francisco EB-5 attorneys at Jatoi & de Kirby, APC can help you with the steps of the investor immigration process, including the removal of your conditional residency—the final step to permanent residence in the U.S.
Call us today at (415) 221-2345, or request a copy of our FREE informational guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.
Can I use money from an inheritance to fund my EB-5 investment?
Yes, but it will require filing a few additional documents. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service allows investments to be made with capital from an inheritance, but in order to do this, you will have to provide the following forms of evidence along with your EB-5 immigration application:
- A copy of the benefactor’s death certificate
- A document clarifying the relationship between the investor and the deceased
- A receipt outlining the total amount of the investor’s inheritance
- A record of the transmission of inherited funds from the deceased to the investor
- Proof of payment of any inheritance tax
In some cases, such as if the deceased and the investor were not directly related, it can be difficult to explain the nature of the inheritance. In these instances, Immigration Services may ask you to provide an additional statement to thoroughly clarify your relationship with the deceased and the circumstances surrounding the inheritance.
At the Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby, our trusted EB-5 green card lawyers can help you prepare your application and answer any questions you may have about the investment process, improving your chances of getting your application approved.
Contact our San Francisco immigration attorneys today at (415) 221-2345, or fill out the contact form on this page to get started. You can also get answers immediately in our FREE informational guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.
How do I become a permanent resident after securing a conditional green card through the EB-5 visa program?
After you have been part of the EB-5 green card program for two years – and after you have successfully invested your money in a United States business, regional center, or project – you may file for permanent residency. When you move from having a conditional green card to being a permanent resident, many restrictions are lifted, and your freedom to work, live, and travel increases.
In order to secure permanent residency, you must file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services within 90 days of your two-year Eb-5 immigration visa anniversary. This three-page form should be filed with the USCIS California Service Center and comes with a fee of $3,835 – read the four pages of instructions carefully. In addition, a biometrics services fee of $85 is due for each dependent staying with you.
Do you need assistance with your EB-5 investment immigration plan, or help removing the conditions from your residency status after two years of having a conditional green card? The Investment Immigration lawyers at Jatoi & de Kirby, APC can help guide you and your family through the process and to permanent, unconditional residency in the United States.
Is it possible for a foreigner to retire to the United States?
While some other countries offer foreigners retirement visas, sometimes known as silver cards, the United States does not have a retirement visa program – and has no current plans of creating one. However, just because the U.S. does not specifically have a visa program for retirees does not mean that there are not options for those who wish to spend their golden years on American soil.
Retire In The U.S. with EB-5 Investor Visa
If you do not have a close relative who is a United States Citizen and who can sponsor you, your best option for retiring to the U.S. might be an EB-5 investor’s visa. Geared toward foreigners who have accumulated significant wealth and who would like to live and invest in the United States, the EB-5 visa grants eventual permanent residency to those who are willing to invest either $500,000 or $1 million in an American business or project.
Retirement Options Are Possible for EB-5 Investors
Although it can be difficult to retire in the U.S., and while there is no specific visa program for retirees, there are viable options to consider, especially if you have retirement money that you plan on investing.
How much do I have to invest to secure an EB-5 investment immigration visa?
How much money you are required to invest during the EB-5 immigration visa process depends on which type of investment you plan to make: direct investment or a regional center investment. Let’s take a closer look at both options:
- To make a direct investment, you must invest $1 million. An EB-5 direct investment must go toward a new enterprise in a rural area or an area with a high unemployment rate. A direct investment requires the investor to create at least ten new full-time jobs and to be engaged in the day-to-day management of the business.
- To make a regional center investment, you must invest $500,000. This second type of investment must go toward a regional center that has already been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. These centers must also promote job growth (at least indirectly) and improve the economy.
Which type of investment is right for you and your family? The answer is different for everyone to discuss these two options in depth, call a California green card lawyer at Jatoi & de Kirby, APC today. Our immigration attorneys provide private, confidential consultations and speak both English and Mandarin.
Obtain a United States Green Card with a qualified investment of $900,000 in a USCIS Approved Regional Center. We have set our clock to December 11th 2020, however Congress is considering new legislation which will increase the qualified investment to $1,000,000. This change could happen at any time and the $1,000,000 could become the law with little or no notice. If a Green Card is important to you and your family please contact our office immediately.