How To Fill Out Form I-526
USCIS provides Form I-526, Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur, for people who wish to permanently immigrate to the United States by proving that they have invested, or will be investing, a certain amount of money into a business in the United States. These immigrants are known as EB-5 investors.
You can find the form and its accompanying instructions at www.uscis.gov/i-526.
The purpose of Form I-526 and the evidence you must submit with your application is to prove that you are financially able to make a $500,000 to $1,000,000 commitment, that your planned investment will create 10 jobs, and that the funds you use to make your financial commitment were obtained by lawful means.
Who Can Fill Out Form I-526?
Form I-526 must be filled out by EB-5 investors who have invested, or are planning to invest, in a business project that will create jobs for U.S. citizen or permanent resident workers.
You are able to file an I-526 if you have created a “new commercial enterprise.” Creating a new commercial enterprise means that you have done at least one of these things:
- Created a new business entity, such as a sole proprietorship, or a LLP or LLC,
- Bought a business that had already been created, but you reorganized the business in a way that made it into a new business, or
- Invested into an existing business so that its value, the number of workers at the business, or both, has increased by at least 40 percent.
If you have done any of the above things to create a new commercial enterprise, you must also do the following with that business:
- Be the manager of the business or have some kind of role in making the policies of the business,
- Actively invest at least $1 million (or $500,000 under certain circumstances) into the business.
- Have that investment benefit the economy of the United States, and
- Have that investment create at least 10 full-time jobs for people in the United States. The jobs cannot be for you, your family, or nonimmigrant aliens.
If you satisfy the requirements listed above, then you can file Form I-526 to immigrate into the United States.
While you must meet the requirements listed above, the majority of EB-5 investors choose to invest through USCIS designated Regional Centers. Regional Centers create investment opportunities for EB-5 investors by tailoring projects that should help investors meet the qualifications above. Even though EB-investors must maintain a managerial role in the investment they make, investing through Regional Centers simplifies the entire process for many EB-5 investors.
What Do I Send With My Application?
Completed Form I-526
As stated above, you can find the form on the USCIS website. Follow these instructions when filling out Form I-526:
- The form can be filled out on a computer by typing in your information, or it can be filled in by hand using a pen with black ink.
- If you run out of room to fill in any answer on the I-526, you can put your name and Alien Registration Number on the top of a piece of paper and attach it to your I-526. Be sure to clearly show the page number, part number, and item number which you are answering on the extra piece of paper. Finally, make sure that you sign and date every extra sheet of paper you attach.
- If you have a question that does not apply to you or if your answer would be “none”, just leave the answer blank.
Forms and Photographs
You may have to turn in certain documents, pictures, or other evidence to send in a complete I-526 application. You may use copies of some documents. If an original document is required, USCIS will let you know. Some of the documents that you may need to submit with your Form I-526 include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Articles of Incorporation
- Partnership Agreement
- Bank Account Information
- Certificate or Statement of Authority to conduct business in a State
- Tax Returns
- Stock Purchase Agreements, or
- Investment Agreements.
If you invest through a Regional Center, the Regional Center should provide the information listed above to you. These documents are used to prove 6 major things about your business:
- Your business is lawful in the US,
- Your business is in a “targeted employment area,” if applicable, or that is in an area that needs more jobs,
- You have invested the correct amount of money,
- Your funding for the business is lawful (see below for more information),
- Your business will create at least 10 new jobs, and
- Your business is owned and operated by you.
Evidence of Lawful Funding
You must prove that the investment you made into your commercial enterprise was obtained legally. This means that you may have to provide bank account information, tax information, proof of prior income, etc. to show the government that you acquired the money you used to fund your investment in a legal manner.
Proving that your investment funds were lawfully obtained is often more complicated than it may appear at first. It is common to hire a professional, accountants and or lawyers, to help you meet this evidentiary requirement.
Filing Fee for Form I-526
The current cost of filing Form I-526 is $1,500. Check the USCIS website before submitting the filing fee to make sure that the amount of the fee is correct. USCIS sometimes changes its fees, so you need to be sure that you are paying the right amount.
The fee must be submitted with your form in either a check or money order. Be sure that the check or money order fulfills the following requirements:
- Your check or money order is in U.S. dollars.
- Your check or money order is from a bank in the United States.
- Your check or money order is addressed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Do not use initials or abbreviations, such as “USDHA”, when filling out your check or money order.
What Happens After You Fill Out Form I-526?
After filing Form I-526, your application should be accepted and processed if it is properly completed. You may receive a request to provide additional information (known as a Request for Evidence) or to interview with USCIS. After that, you will receive written notification of whether or not your form was approved.
This article provides an overview of what is expected and important points to discuss with your financial and legal advisers as you continue to prepare a successful application.
If you have the means to immigrate as an EB-5 investor, you likely also have the means to hire professionals to assist you with the application. Form I-526 is complicated, and successfully navigating the US immigration system often requires assistance.