Form I-526 is a key document in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, which allows foreign investors to obtain U.S. permanent residency by making qualifying investments in the United States. The I-526 petition is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and serves as the initial step in the EB-5 application process.
Key elements of the I-526 petition in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program include:
Documenting the Investment: The I-526 petition requires detailed documentation of the investment made by the foreign investor. This includes evidence of the capital investment, such as bank statements, wire transfers, and proof of the lawful source of funds. The petition must demonstrate that the investment meets the minimum investment requirements and adheres to the guidelines set by the program.
Job Creation Requirement: The I-526 petition must also provide evidence that the investment will lead to the creation of the required number of jobs. This typically involves submitting a comprehensive business plan outlining the projected job creation and economic impact of the investment.
Supporting Documentation: The I-526 petition requires the submission of various supporting documents. These may include organizational documents for the new commercial enterprise, evidence of the investment's lawful source, tax returns, financial statements, leases, licenses, and any other documentation that validates the investment and its compliance with EB-5 program requirements.
Regional Center or Direct Investment: The I-526 petition distinguishes between investments made through a regional center and direct investments. The choice between the two determines the specific requirements and supporting documentation needed to demonstrate compliance with the program.
USCIS Filing and Processing: Once the I-526 petition is compiled with all the necessary documentation, it is submitted to USCIS for processing. The USCIS reviews the petition, conducts background checks, verifies the documentation, and determines whether the investment and job creation requirements have been met.
Request for Evidence (RFE): In some cases, USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) seeking additional information or clarification on certain aspects of the I-526 petition. It is important to respond to the RFE within the given timeframe with the requested information and supporting documentation.
Conditional Permanent Residency: If the I-526 petition is approved, the foreign investor and their immediate family members may be granted conditional permanent residency in the United States. This allows them to live and work in the country for a two-year period, subject to meeting certain conditions, including the actual investment of funds and job creation.
Removal of Conditions: Towards the end of the two-year conditional residency period, the investor must file a separate petition, Form I-829, to remove the conditions and obtain permanent residency without conditions. This requires demonstrating that the investment has been sustained and the required jobs have been created.
The I-526 petition is a critical component of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, as it establishes the eligibility of the investment and the investor for the program. Working with experienced immigration attorneys or professionals specializing in the EB-5 program can provide invaluable guidance in preparing and filing the I-526 petition, ensuring compliance with USCIS requirements, and maximizing the chances of a successful EB-5 application.