Are you a foreign investor interested in making a large investment in an American company? If so, you may qualify for an EB-5 investor visa. In addition to the costs related to your investment, you will also need to budget for an immigration attorney.
Budgeting for an EB-5 immigration attorney can be tricky. If you find yourself asking “how much should I pay my EB-5 immigration attorney?” doing some research online is a great first step in the process.
What is an EB-5 Investor Visa?
Before you can even consider hiring an immigration attorney, do research on the EB-5 investor visa. The more you understand about the program, the easier it’ll be to supply your attorney with the right documents.
The EB-5 investor visa program is specifically for people seeking to make an investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 in the United States. Congress created this investor program in 1990 as a part of the Immigration Act to stimulate the economy.
There are 4 other types of employment based visas. The EB-5 application applies to investors, while the others apply to jobs such as doctors, business professionals, or manual workers.
If you plan to work in the United States but not to make an investment that qualifies for the EB-5 investor visa program, you may want to read up on the other EB visa categories.
Who Qualifies for an EB-5 Investor Visa?
There are very specific standards to qualify for and EB-5 investor visa. In order to qualify, you will need to invest between $500,000 (USD) and $1,000,000 (USD) in capital depending on the type of EB-5 investment. You will also need to prove that the investment you wish to make will create jobs the required number of U.S. jobs.
Again, depending on the type of EB-5 visa, the standards for these jobs varies. In general however, your investment must create at least 10 full time positions either directly or indirectly. Check out our guide to the EB-5 job creation requirement to find out more.
The EB-5 investor visa program is run by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Though you will get your visa through USCIS, your investment must comply with rules set out by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Because accredited investors qualify for an exemption to securities registration requirements, many EB-5 regional centers only work with accredited investors.
Most people who qualify with the USCIS for an EB-5 investor will also qualify as an accredited investor. If you plan to apply for an EB-5 investor visa, work with professionals like accountants and attorneys to make sure that you, and the investment opportunity you are considering, meet the requirements of the SEC. In general, investors must meet the following qualifications to be considered accredited investors:
- Your individual net worth, or joint net worth with your spouse, must exceed $1,000,000. Your primary residence is excluded as an asset.
- You must have had an individual income in excess of $200,000 for the two most recent years. Alternatively, if you had a joint income with your spouse in excess of $300,000 for each of those years you may also qualify.
- Your business can also qualify if all of the equity owners are accredited investors.
Why do I Need an Attorney?
You might be asking yourself if you can file for an EB-5 investor visa without an immigration attorney. While technically the USCIS does not require you to work with an attorney, working with one will greatly improve your chances of success.
Immigration attorneys are experienced with visa applications and most likely know of many pitfalls or shortcuts that a new visa applicant might miss. Having an experienced immigration attorney can greatly speed up your EB-5 process, and often the time saved by hiring one is well worth the cost.
Filing for an EB-5 investor visa is a complex process. It involves the investment of capital, and moving money from one country to another. Evidentiary requirements for an EB-5 visa include documenting the source of your funds, and proving your investment will meet job creation requirements.
Because the interpretation of laws can be very complicated, especially immigration laws in the current US political climate, you would be well served by the advice of an experienced professional. An attorney will be able to foresee what you will need in terms of documents and proof of capital, as well as any other forms necessary to successfully apply for an EB-5 visa.
Immigration attorneys can also help by knowing many of the right questions to ask. Do you plan to bring your immediate family? Do you qualify for an exemption with the SEC? The best way to make sure you have explored all of your options is by working with an attorney.
How much should I Pay my EB-5 Immigration Attorney?
When you are budgeting for an EB-5 immigration attorney, you should set aside no less than $15,000 (USD), though fees are typically in the $15,000 to $25,000 range. The amount of work put into an EB-5 application can often be quite large. If your case is more complex, your attorney might need to charge you for more hours to complete critical paperwork so that your application goes through smoothly.
In addition to attorney costs, all of the petitions and forms you will need to file with the USCIS and the SEC will cost money. For example, the filing fee for the I-526 is around $1,500 (USD) alone.
There are many factors that will affect how much you should pay an immigration attorney. Consult with an attorney and ask what about all the fees to best assess cost. Generally, your attorney fees will be at least $15,000, but that number may increase depending on the services your attorney performs.
Getting an EB-5 investor visa is a long and complicated process. If you plan to immigrate using the EB-5 program, make sure you set aside enough funds for good legal counsel.