In an era of competitive global education and career opportunities, Indian students in the U.S. on F-1 visas face a unique set of challenges and aspirations. With the dream of securing a robust future in the land of opportunities, the EB-5 visa emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a direct and less tumultuous path to U.S. permanent residency.
The EB-5 visa, known as the Immigrant Investor Program, was initiated by the U.S. Congress to stimulate the American economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. It stands out as an attractive option for international students, particularly those from India, who seek more than just education in the U.S. The EB-5 program paves the way to permanent residency (Green Card) and potentially, U.S. citizenship, bypassing the uncertainties and limitations often associated with student visas.
Advantages of the EB-5 Visa for International Students
- Certainty in Admission and Stay: It eliminates the unpredictability surrounding student visa approvals, providing a straightforward path to remain in the U.S.
- Financial Benefits: An EB-5 visa allows you to obtain U.S. residency, thus giving you access to in-state tuition rates for prominent universities around the country which significantly reduces educational costs. Green card holders are eligible for various scholarships, grants, and federal loans that are often inaccessible to international students.
- Employment Flexibility: The EB-5 visa removes work restrictions typical of student visas, allowing graduates to explore a wider range of career opportunities, including starting their own business.
What is Concurrent Filing and How It Benefits Indians on OPT?
Concurrent filing represents a significant advantage for Indian students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) in the U.S. This process allows these students to simultaneously file for work and travel permit authorization while their EB-5 petition is pending. The primary benefit is the expedited pathway it creates toward obtaining U.S. permanent residency.
- Fast-Tracking Employment Authorization: By concurrently filing, students can rapidly acquire an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This document enables them to work legally in the U.S. in as quick as 3 months without the restrictions typically associated with F-1 visas.
- Acquiring Travel Documents Quickly: Concurrent filing also speeds up the process of obtaining travel documents, usually within 6-8 months, allowing greater mobility for students.
- Seamless Transition: It facilitates a smoother and uninterrupted transition from being an international student on OPT to becoming a green card holder, circumventing the traditional, often lengthy, visa processes.
Process of Converting from an F-1 to an EB-5
- Making the Investment
- Investment Amount: You need to invest either $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1,050,000 in other areas.
- Job Creation: Your investment must create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
- Investment Vehicle: Typically, investments are made through Regional Centers, like the U.S. Immigration Fund (USIF), approved by USCIS, which manages EB-5 projects.
- Filing the I-526 Petition
- Form: File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor with your immigration attorney.
- Timeline: USCIS processing times vary; it can take from 12 to 18 months.
- Concurrent Filing of I-485 (Adjustment of Status)
- Eligibility: Once I-526 is approved, or if USCIS processing times allow, you can file Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status concurrently.
- Benefits: This allows you to stay in the U.S. legally while your EB-5 application is being processed.
- Receiving Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and Advance Parole (AP)
- Application: File Form I-765 for EAD and Form I-131 for AP.
- Timeline: Approximately 3-6 months to receive EAD; AP allows you to travel while I-485 is pending.
- Attend Biometrics Appointment: USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for fingerprinting and photography
- Interview and Approval of I-485
- Interview: You may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office.
- Final Approval: If approved, your status is adjusted to a conditional permanent resident.
- Removing Conditions with I-829
- Filing: Within 90 days before the two-year anniversary of your conditional Green Card, file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions.
- Evidence: Show that the investment was sustained, and the job creation requirement was met.
- Timeline: Processing time can vary; once approved, you become a permanent resident.
The article was originally published by The Economic Times
Authored by Nicholas Mastroianni III, President and Chief Marketing Officer, US Immigration Fund,