EB 5 Visa Real Estate Investment Path - Paperfree 2024's Perspectives on EB 5 Real Estate Projects

Gain valuable insights into the connection between immigration investment and the real estate sector, providing a comprehensive understanding for investors, stakeholders, and those navigating the intersection of EB-5 Visa Investment Projects and Real Estate in 2024.

last updated Monday, July 8, 2024
#eb 5 visa real estate investment #eb5 real estate

John Burson     Subscribe


In this article, We will cover:

  • What are EB 5 real estate investment Projects?
  • How Does EB-5 Program Real Estate Investment Work, and What Are Its Advantages, Disadvantages, and Key Considerations?
  • How to Invest in EB-5 Project Real Estate: Requirements and Top EB-5 Projects for Foreign Investors?
  • How Can I Pursue EB-5 through Commercial Real Estate Investment while Ensuring Job Creation Compliance without Violating H-1B Status?
  • What are the Current Active EB-5 Regional Center Projects, Processing Times, Eligibility Criteria, and Social Security Number (SSN) Requirements?

What is EB5 Real Estate?

EB5 real estate refers to properties or development projects in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program. This program allows foreign investors to obtain a Green Card (lawful permanent residence) in the United States by investing in a U.S. business enterprise that creates jobs.

However, it is essential to remember that EB-5 real estate investments are complex and involve significant risk. Investors should carefully consider their financial situation and investment goals before making decisions.

What is the EB5 Real Estate Investment Project?

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program offers foreign investors a unique opportunity to obtain a Green Card by investing in U.S. real estate projects. These projects, known as EB-5 real estate projects, are specifically designed to meet the program's requirements, which include creating jobs for American workers.

EB5 real estate investment project examples

These are just a few examples of real estate projects that can qualify for the EB-5 program:

  • Commercial buildings: hotels,  hospitals, restaurants,
  • Industrial properties engaged in manufacturing, production, distribution, and storage,
  • Residential properties: condominiums, multi-family housing complexes, and cooperatives. 

By investing in such projects, foreign investors contribute capital that fuels job creation and economic growth in the United States. The result of a foreign investor's investment in real estate or property development projects in the US is an EB5 project in real estate.

The Best EB5 Projects Investing in Real Estate

Historically, the best EB 5 projects in real estate have been in hotel construction. Hotel construction and real estate EB5 Investment Projects have a consistent demand and ensure more than enough jobs to satisfy the requirements of the EB5 Visa. Below is a list of successful and completed EB5 Projects that allowed foreign investors to gain permanent residence in the US and a return on their investments.

  • Europa Village Winery
    eb5 real estate investment
  • Marriott Residence Inn and Courtyard
    eb 5 real estate investment

  • The Montage Hotel and Residences
    eb 5 program real estate investment

  • 9 Orchard Hotel
    eb-5 program real estate investment

  • Marriott Residence Inn
    eb-5 financing for real estate

  • Pennsylvania Convention Center
    eb 5 financing for real estate

Check the more details here: Best EB5 Projects for Foreign Investors

How do the EB5 Investment Projects work with Real Estate?

Following the 2008 financial crisis, when most real estate projects could not secure funding from conventional sources, EB 5 visa real estate ventures gained prominence. Then, in 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) declared that construction jobs that came about as a result of real estate projects indirectly might be applied toward the EB-5 Program's job creation criteria. More EB-5 investments in real estate development were attracted due to the announcement, particularly for commercial and multifamily projects in cities like Los Angeles, New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle.

How to Invest in EB5 Project Real Estate?

Investing in an EB-5 project for Real Estate involves several key steps:

  1. Conduct an Initial Search
    Collaborate with your immigration attorney to assess the suitability of the EB-5 Visa Program for your immigration goals.
    Ensure alignment between your immigration and investment objectives before applying for the EB-5 Visa.
  2. Select an EB-5 Real Estate Project
    Choose between a direct investment or a regional center investment.
    Opt for a real estate project supported by reputable developers and established brands.
  3. Perform Due Diligence
    Conduct thorough due diligence to verify the legitimacy of the chosen real estate EB-5 Project.
    Assess the project's immigration risk to ensure a secure investment.
  4. Invest the Minimum Capital
    Determine the appropriate minimum capital based on the project's location, with $800,000 for Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) and $1,050,000 for non-TEA regions.
    Targeted Employment Areas include regions with high unemployment or rural areas.
  5. Complete Required Documents
    Gather and submit essential personal, project, and financial documents for the EB-5 petition.
    Refer to a comprehensive list of documentation requirements available in the next section.
  6. Submit Form I-526
    File Form I-526, including a detailed business plan showcasing job creation and capital investment in the chosen EB-5 Real Estate Project.
    Upon submission, USCIS issues a receipt notice with the priority date for your EB-5 petition.

What are the Requirements for an EB 5 program real estate investment?


One of the requirements of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is an EB-5 Project. Qualified foreign investors can apply for permanent residence (a "Green Card") through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program. To be eligible for the EB5 Visa Program, a foreign investor must spend a minimum amount of cash on a US EB-5 Project that creates ten or more full-time jobs for American workers.


These are the basic documents needed for an EB-5 Visa project for the restaurant industry.

  1. Financial documents
    1. Evidence of legal source of funds.
    2. Evidence that your investment capital was obtained legally.
    3. Evidence of business ownership.
    4. Financial statements for your business/es.
    5. Copy of all business licenses.
    6. Bank statements in the last 5 years.
    7. Tax returns in the last 5 years.
  2. Project documents
    1. Evidence that the investment will be made in a qualified EB-5 Real Estate Project.
    2. Proof that the project is in a TEA if the minimum investment is $800,000.
    3. Evidence that the investment will create a new U.S. business.
    4. Evidence that you have invested in a regional center aligned with the approved regional center business plan. The letter from USCIS designating the regional center should be attached to your I-526.
    5. Proof that the EB-5 project will lead to at least 10 full-time jobs for Americans.
  3. Personal documents
    1. Copy of your valid passport.
    2. Copy of your old passports, if any.
    3. A copy of your dependents' (spouse and children) valid passports is needed.
    4. Documents with biographical information, including birth and marriage certificates from you and your dependents.
    5. Local or national identification documents.
    6. Household registration.
    7. Copy of any prior immigration applications.
    8. Arrival/Departure Notice (I-94).
    9. Certified copies of any judgment, pending governmental civil or criminal actions, or private civil actions against you from any court in or outside the US in the last 15 years.

Which US Visa Holders are Eligible to Invest in an EB5 Project?

Nonimmigrant visa holders can invest in top EB5 Projects to obtain permanent residence in the US. A nonimmigrant visa is a stamp on the passport of foreign citizens that enables them to enter and reside in the US temporarily. Nonimmigrant visas with dual intent, in particular, can change their status to an EB-5 Visa without violating their status. Dual intent allows foreign citizens to apply for US permanent residence even on nonimmigrant visas. 

Below are examples of dual-intent nonimmigrant visa holders eligible to invest in top EB5 Projects.

  • L-1 Visa for intracompany transferee managers and executives of global companies.
  • H-1B Visa for specialty occupation workers.
  • O-1 Visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities and achievements in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  • E-2 Visa for foreign investors from countries with treaties of commerce and navigation with the US.

Is a Social Security Number Required to Apply for an EB5 Project?

No, you must get an approved EB-5 Visa before obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN). A US Social Security Number (SSN) is issued to US citizens, permanent residents, and temporary working residents and is used as a national identification number for taxation and other purposes.

How Long Does it Take to Process an EB5 Project?

Investors in an EB5 Project expect 29.5 and 61 months of processing for their I-526 petitions to qualify for an EB-5 Visa—an approved I-526 petition grants foreign investors a 2-year conditional permanent residence. Foreign investors should prove they can meet the minimum investment and job creation requirements during their conditional permanent residence to be granted lawful permanent residence. 

What is the success rate of EB-5 projects?

Determining the exact "success rate" of EB-5 projects is complex and depends on how you define "success." Here's a breakdown:

  • Project Approval
    I-526 Petition (proves investor compliance): Approval rate of 75-80%
    I-829 Petition (removes conditional residency): Approval rate of above 90%
  • Financial Returns
    Varies significantly based on project type, location, and market conditions.
    Some may offer good returns, while others might not break even.
  • Green Card Acquisition
    Not all projects guarantee a green card, despite approvals.
    Unexpected delays or changes can occur during the process.

Is an EB5 Investment Safe for Real Estate Industries?

USCIS mandates that an EB5 investment be "at risk" until the investor files an I-829 application. An EB5 investment in real estate may result in both losses and gains. The primary benefit of an EB5 investment is the opportunity for EB5 investors and their families to obtain a US Green Card.

How risky is EB-5 investment?

Investing in the EB-5 program comes with inherent risks, although the level of risk can vary depending on several factors. Here's a breakdown of the critical areas of risk to consider:

Financial Risk

  • Investment Loss
    Unlike some investments, your invested capital is "at risk" and can be lost if the project fails. Careful due diligence and project selection are crucial.
  • Uncertain Returns
    While some projects offer potential returns, there's no guarantee, and they can vary significantly based on the project, market conditions, and unforeseen circumstances.
  • Indirect Costs
    Legal fees, administrative costs, and travel expenses add to the overall investment cost.

Immigration Risk

  • Job Creation Uncertainty
    Meeting the required job creation threshold is crucial for your green card application. This hinges on the project's performance, which you might not directly control.
  • Processing Delays
    The EB-5 visa process can be lengthy and prone to delays due to changes in government policies or unforeseen circumstances.
  • Denial of Petitions
    Even if a project seems suitable, your petitions could still be denied due to incomplete documentation, errors, or changes in USCIS requirements.

Other Risks

  • Fraudulent Projects
    Unfortunately, some unethical individuals exploit the program for fraudulent activities. Careful research and working with reputable partners are essential.
  • Economic Downturns
    Economic recessions can negatively impact project performance and potentially hinder job creation, affecting immigration outcomes.
  • Change in Program Regulations
    Government regulations can change, impacting program eligibility, requirements, and processing times.
  • Thorough Due Diligence
    Research the project, developer, and regional center extensively. Seek independent expert advice from immigration attorneys and financial advisors.
  • Diversification
    Consider spreading your investment across different projects or industries to mitigate risk concentration.
  • Realistic Expectations
    Don't expect guaranteed returns or a smooth, fast-track immigration process. Understand the inherent risks and potential challenges before investing.

Direct Investment and  Reginal Center EB5 Projects

When considering an EB-5 investment, understanding the differences between direct investments and regional center projects is crucial. Both pathways involve real estate but offer distinct experiences and require different levels of involvement.

Direct EB-5 Investment Management
EB5 Regional Center Investment
Invest directly in a specific U.S. business venture like a hotel, apartment complex, or manufacturing facility. Pool your funds with other investors through a USCIS-approved regional center.
Job creation
Directly create ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers through your project's activities. The project can create jobs directly or indirectly through the economic activity it stimulates.
You have more control over the project's management and operations, assuming greater responsibility. The regional center handles oversight and management, reducing your workload and responsibility.
Potentially higher risk due to your direct involvement in the project's success. Generally, lower risk as your investment relies less on the success of a single project.

Please find the active -  EB5 direct investment projects.

Key takeaways

  • Control
    Direct offers more control, and the regional center offers less.
  • Risk
    Direct potentially higher risk, regional center generally lower.
  • Complexity
    Direct requires more active involvement, and regional centers are more passive.

Choosing the right path

The best option depends on your circumstances, risk tolerance, and desired level of involvement. Consult with immigration and financial professionals to assess your goals and choose the best fit for your situation.

EB5 Regional Center Projects

EB5 project eligibility is not limited to specific sectors or industries. Instead, job creation (or job preservation) is the name of the game. 

Below, we highlight a range of industries and commercial project types that have benefited from EB5 capital since 1990, along with some sectors that could benefit from EB5 capital in the future.

Please note that these examples were selected for their notability only, and their inclusion does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of either these projects or their developers.

Source: EB5 Regional Center Projects Types

What are the Regional Centers that Offer EB5 Projects to Real Estate?

USCIS has approved 632 regional centers as of October 25, 2021. The USCIS official website contains a complete list of all EB-5 Regional Centers.

Residential real estate and EB-5 investment

What are the issues with residential real estate EB-5 projects?

Residential real estate EB-5 projects, while seemingly attractive, come with several potential issues:

  1. Job creation challenges
    1. Indirect jobs
      Unlike hotels or manufacturing facilities, residential projects primarily generate indirect and induced jobs (service sectors like landscaping), which are more challenging to qualify for meeting the EB-5 job creation requirement.
    2. Lower job density
      Unlike commercial projects, residential developments tend to create fewer jobs per million invested, increasing the risk of falling short of the requirement.
  2. Market risks
    1. Overvaluation
      Residential bubbles and market downturns can lead to project failure, jeopardizing your investment and immigration goals.
    2. Liquidity concerns
      Unlike commercial properties, selling individual units in a residential project can be slower and less flexible, affecting potential returns.
  3. Other concerns
    1. Fraud risk
      Some unscrupulous developers might inflate job creation numbers or engage in fraudulent activities, risking your investment and green card.
    2. Immigration risk
      Even if the project creates enough jobs, delays or changes in USCIS policies could impact your application outcome.
    3. Limited investor control
      Unlike direct investments, you usually have less control over project management and decision-making in regional center-led projects.

Alternatives to consider:

  • Commercial real estate projects
    Hotels, warehouses, or manufacturing facilities typically create more direct jobs, mitigating the job creation challenge.
  • Infrastructure projects
    These often have government backing and stable returns, reducing some market risks.

When can a house purchase qualify under the EB-5 program?

Unfortunately, purchasing a house directly does not qualify you for the EB-5 program. The program requires investment in business enterprises that create jobs, not passive investments like personal real estate.

While some EB-5 projects might involve the development of residential properties, you wouldn't directly purchase a specific house. Instead, your investment would contribute to the overall project, and any potential returns wouldn't come from owning the house.

How can a U.S. real estate property be contributed to an EB-5 program?

Unfortunately, a U.S. real estate property cannot be directly contributed to the EB-5 program as an investment. The program requires investments in new commercial enterprises that create jobs, not existing personal assets like property. However, there are indirect ways your property might be involved in an EB-5 investment:

  1. Use property as collateral for a loan.
    You can mortgage the property to raise capital that you invest in an approved EB-5 project. Remember, the investment must be in a job-creating business, not the property itself.
  2. Develop the property through an EB-5 project.
    If you own land, you could partner with a developer to create a new commercial project (e.g., hotel, apartment complex) that qualifies for EB-5 investment. Your land contribution would then count towards the overall project investment.
  3. Sell the property to an EB-5 project developer.
    If your property aligns with the needs of an approved EB-5 project, you could potentially sell it to the developer, and the sale proceeds might become part of your EB-5 investment.

How can I make my real estate investment work for the EB-5 Projects?

While directly investing your existing real estate property into the EB-5 program isn't possible, there are potentially viable options to leverage your real estate holdings to participate in EB-5 projects. Here are a few possibilities, but remember each path involves legal and financial complexities:

  1. Use Property as Collateral for an EB-5 Investment Loan
    You can mortgage your existing property to raise capital, which you then invest in an approved EB-5 project that meets job creation requirements. This separates your asset from the EB-5 investment itself.
  2. Partner with a Developer for an EB-5 Project on Your Land
    If you own suitable land, you could collaborate with a reputable developer to create a new commercial project (hotel, apartment complex) qualifying for EB-5 investment on that land. Your land contribution becomes part of the overall project investment.
  3. Sell Your Property to an EB-5 Project Developer
    If your property meets the needs of an approved EB-5 project, selling it to the developer could potentially contribute the sale proceeds to your EB-5 investment. Ensure the project meets job creation requirements and aligns with your immigration goals.
  4. Consider Alternative Investment Options
    While utilizing your existing property offers creative approaches, alternative investment options might be more straightforward and less risky:
    1. Commercial Real Estate Projects
      Hotels, warehouses, or manufacturing facilities generally create more direct jobs, simplifying the job creation requirement compared to residential projects.
    2. Infrastructure Projects
      These often have government backing, potentially lowering market risk and offering stable returns.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Investing in EB5 Real Estate projects?

What are the Advantages of Investing in an EB5 Project to Real Estate?

Real estate is a popular choice for EB-5 investments because it offers several advantages. These are the top advantages of investing in an EB5 Project to Real Estate.

  • Tangible investment. Most EB-5 investors opt for real estate projects because they are tangible investments that investors can physically inspect and serve as real collateral. 
  • Consistent demand. Commercial real estate projects have a high market demand and a potential for a return on investment. 
  • Sufficient job creation. Large real estate projects lead to numerous direct, indirect, and induced jobs to satisfy the eligibility criteria of the EB-5 Visa. 
  • Potential for return on investment. In addition to obtaining a green card, investors may also be able to earn a return on their investment through rental income or property appreciation.

What are the Disadvantages of Investing in an EB5 Project to Real Estate?

Foreign investors considering real estate investment opportunities through an EB-5 project should consider the following limitations and challenges.

  • Fraud risk
    Investors, especially in China, have been more wary of real estate EB-5 projects since the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed allegations of securities fraud against the Chicago Convention Center (CCC) project. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) tried to stop deliberate false claims, significant misrepresentation, and omission of information from EB 5 investors because of the problem of misrepresentation of Chicago Convention Center (CCC) developers.
  • Changes in local government
    Obtaining government financing or building permits for projects involving hotels and luxury homes is more difficult in areas prioritizing affordable housing.
  • Immigration risk
    Real estate projects that are prone to delays, deficits, or overruns might have a detrimental impact on EB5 investor immigration. Until the foreign investor applies for and obtains 10-year unconditional permanent residence status, a minimum of ten jobs must be generated.

In the following part, we will review the most significant considerations for EB-5 investors when deciding whether to invest in an EB-5 real estate project. 

What are other things to consider when investing in an EB5 Project for Real Estate?

Investing in EB-5 Real Estate? Top 8 Considerations for Success

Investing in real estate through the EB-5 program can be a powerful path to green card status. However, careful evaluation is crucial. Here are 8 essential factors to consider before investing:

  1. Partner with Proven Developers
    Seek established companies with a track record of successful projects. Brands like Hilton and Marriott offer a history of lucrative investments but explore various options.
  2. Prioritize Job Protection
    Look for projects with a "job cushion" exceeding 10 job requirements. Real estate can create numerous jobs, especially through regional centers.
  3. Verify Job Creation in Operations
    Form I-526 requires a business plan demonstrating at least 10 jobs from the project. Approved I-526 petitions from regional centers confirm this requirement is met.
  4. Focus on Direct Job Creation
    USCIS considers construction jobs lasting over 2 years as direct jobs, provided they are maintained until your I-829 stage (path to permanent residency).
  5. Leverage the Full Capital Stack
    All investor funds contribute to job creation. Affiliation with large developers can potentially offer higher job creation and security.
  6. Enhance Permanent Residency Prospects
    Choose projects that can sustain job creation throughout the EB-5 process. Your investment should remain "at risk" until your I-829 filing.
  7. Ensure Investment Security
    Many projects structure EB-5 investments as interest-only, fixed-term debt. Your investment acts as a loan repaid after meeting requirements. EB-5 Projects for Real Estate are typically structured with EB-5 investments coming in as interest-only, fixed-term debt. The EB5 investment would usually be loaned to the EB5 Real Estate Project for 5 years. The EB 5 investment would then be repaid after the EB 5 investor has completed his/her I-829 application and the loan term completed. 
  8. Minimize Immigration Risk
    Projects creating job security through construction expenses offer lower risk. Existing projects may fulfill job requirements before needing your capital. EB5 Real Estate Projects that have little to no immigration risk are those that create secure job protection through construction expenses alone. Ongoing real estate projects have the potential to generate enough jobs to meet the EB5 Program requirements even before receiving any capital.

While real estate offers a popular path in the EB-5 program, other industries can be attractive alternatives:

  • Hotel Construction
    These projects often provide reliable returns for investors within 5-7 years, making them a popular choice.
  • Biotechnology
    North Carolina, for example, has established itself as a leader in EB-5 biotech projects, showcasing potential in this sector.
  • Restaurant Industry
    This industry stands out for creating an average of 20 jobs per investor, easily meeting the program's job creation requirements.


Are EB-5 Regional Centers Available in the Real Estate?

Yes, most EB-5 real estate projects are funded by regional centers. The USCIS website lists 632 approved regional centers.

Is there a Chance of Profit or Return on EB5 Investments?

EB5 real estate development projects continue to attract foreign investors due to their high potential returns and protection from US dollar inflation. The strong potential for job creation and protection also benefits EB5 investors, who are more interested in obtaining a US Green Card than making a significant return on investment. 

Is EB-5 500k or 900k?

As of today, the minimum EB-5 investment amount depends on the location of the project:

The EB-5 investment amount increased from $500,000 to $900,000 for projects in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) in 2019. For projects outside of a TEA, the investment amount increased from $1 million to $1.8 million.

As we navigate the complexities of this dynamic subject, the Paperfree EB-5 Visa Program remains committed to providing cutting-edge insights, resources, and innovative solutions.

In 2024 and beyond, our platform will continue to empower investors and stakeholders with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, unlocking new dimensions of success in the ever-evolving landscape of EB-5 and real estate ventures.


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