By Last Updated: January 16th, 2024

South Korea Investors for EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 Visa for South Korea investors is an immigrant visa that permits the application for permanent residence (green card) in the United States. Permanent residence (green card) grants an indefinite stay in the U.S. for the South Korean investor and his/her dependents. The EB5 Visa for South Korean investors requires a minimum investment that generates 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens. 

South Korea is the 30th country with the highest EB-5 Visa issuances in fiscal year 2024 (0.11% of the total) according to the January 2024 data from the U.S. Department of State. South Korean investors can relocate to the U.S. permanently with the EB5 Visa. A green card allows South Korean investors to send their children to obtain a US education. The “current” status of EB5 Visa for South Korea investors makes it a popular choice for US immigration for South Korean nationals. 

What is EB-5 Visa for South Korea Investors?

The EB-5 Visa for South Korea investors is an immigration investor visa that enables the application for permanent residence (green card) in the United States. Permanent residence (green card) allows South Korea investors and their dependent spouses and children indefinite stay in the U.S. The EB5 Visa for South Korea investors requires a minimum investment in a U.S. business. The investment should create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens.

What are the Benefits of EB-5 Visa for South Korean Investors?

The EB-5 Visa benefits South Korean investors and their dependents through the following.

  • U.S. Green card and citizenship. South Koreans made up 2.4% of the total U.S. immigrant population in 2017 according to the Migration Policy Institute. South Korean investors want to relocate to the U.S. with their dependents to reestablish ties with their immigrant relatives. 
  • Education in the U.S. South Korean investors want their children to get a U.S. education. South Koreans who have studied in the U.S. gain better international recognition and employment prospects.
    • As a permanent resident, your unmarried children under 21 years can do the following.
      • Study in some of the best institutions in the world without facing restrictions imposed on foreign students.
      • Pay 150% to 300% lower tuition fees as compared to foreign students.
      • Enjoy more funding and scholarship options as compared to foreign students.
      • Study as a day scholar and avoid long separation from family just to obtain a quality education.
      • Explore job opportunities without worrying about issues like work permits, sponsorship, processing delays, expiry of visa, or restrictions on job mobility. 
  • Broader investment options. South Korea is one of the top 5 countries that make up the largest EB-5 market along with China and India. South Korean investors invested over $5 billion in US real estate in 2020 according to Real Capital Analytics. 
  • South Korean investors enjoy greater international mobility through the visa-free travel privileges available to US green cardholders. South Korean investors with EB-5 Visa have complete freedom to travel and reside anywhere within the US.

What are the Risks of EB-5 Visa for South Korea Investors?

The following are the challenges faced by South Korea investors for EB-5 Visa during the application process. 

  • The legitimacy of Key Money Deposit. Many South Korea investors use their Key Money (jeonse) as an EB5 investment fund. The Key Money (jeonse) is a renter’s deposit (about 50-80% of the property market value) with the property owner. The deposit is returned to the renter at the end of their lease without interest. Proving the Key Money as a valid source of funds for the EB5 Visa can be difficult for South Korean investors.
  • High inheritance and gift tax rate. The high tax rates on inheritance and gifts from friends and relatives prevent many South Korea investors to use these as funds for Eb-5 Visa.
  • Money transfer challenges. South Korea investors need to get clearance from the local tax office to transfer large amounts of money overseas. South Korean investors have to prepare a local source of funds report with supporting documents to transfer amounts over $50,000 (₩69,299,500 South Korean Won) abroad. 

How Long Does it Take to Process an EB 5 Visa for South Korean Investors?

The Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor (Form I-526) is the first step to filing an EB-5 Visa for South Korean investors. The Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor (Form I-526) is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The processing time of Form I-526 for an EB5 Visa for South Korean investors is between 29.5 to 61 months. 

Here is a step-by-step process for an EB-5 Visa application for South Korean Investors.

  1. Pick an Investment advisor & Immigration attorney.
  2. Find an EB-5 Project that meets the EB-5 program requirements.
  3. Investment of Capital & Filing of I-526 petition. (Prior to filing for an EB-5 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate outside the United States, the Form I-526 petition should first be approved by the USCIS.)
  4. Apply for Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) and DS 260 form.
  5. 2-Year conditional Green card.
  6. Permanent residency & Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (Form I-829).

How Long is an EB5 Visa Valid for South Korea Investors?

An approved EB-5 Visa for South Korea investors grants a conditional green card valid for 2 years. Filing the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status (Form I-829) grants an unconditional green card valid for 10 years. 

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What are the Requirements for an EB-5 Visa for South Korean Investors?

The following are required to be eligible for the EB-5 Visa for South Korean investors.

  • Investment amount. The “at risk” investment for the EB5 Visa for South Korean investors can be any of these two. 
    • The minimum investment is $800,000 (1,108,792,000 South Korean Won) for a Targeted Employment Area (region with high unemployment rates and rural areas). 
    • The investment is $1,050,000  (1,455,289,500 South Korean Won) for a non-Targeted Employment Area. 
  • Source of funds. South Korean investors can use any of the following to invest.
    • Loans from a financial institution or from an individual
    • Salaries/wages
    • Gifts from an individual
    • Inheritance 
    • Business profits
  • Job creation. The EB5 Visa for South Korean investors requires the creation of 10 full-time American employees.

The financial criteria for the EB-5 Visa for South Korean investors are the following.

  • Net worth of $1,050,000 (1,455,289,500 South Korean Won) for an individual or married couple; or
  • Minimum of $200,000 (277,198,000 South Korean Won) in individual income in each of the 2 previous years; or
  • Minimum of $300,000 (415,797,000 South Korean Won) in joint income in each of the 2 previous years; and
  • Comparable level of future income and assets

Our complete guide on EB-5 Requirements has all the information you will need to file your EB-5 petition.

What is the Age Requirement for a South Korean Investor to Get EB-5 Visa?

There’s no age limit. The meaning of this simply is any South Korean investor qualifies to be an EB-5 investor. However, since a minor probably does not have the assets or income to be eligible as an EB-5 investor on his own, the parents or some other guardian giving him/her the investment amount requires showing the necessary documents to prove the source of funds. Occasionally, a South Korean investor pursuing an EB-5 visa will be unable to get specific documentation. In such instances, the applicant may file a declaration giving an explanation as to why they are unable to supply the needed documentation.

The only time age matters is if the parent is applying and children are also part of the application as derivatives. They must be under the age of 21 to be included in a parent’s application.

How Much Does an EB-5 Visa Cost for South Korea Investors?

These are the costs of an EB-5 Visa for South Korea investors.

  • EB-5 investment
    • $800,000 (1,108,792,000 South Korean Won) for a Targeted Employment Area 
    • $1,050,000 (1,455,289,500 South Korean Won) for a non-Targeted Employment Area
  • Form I-526- $3,675 (5,093,513.25 South Korean Won)
  • Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485)- $1,140 (1,580,028.60 South Korean Won)
  • Form I-829- $3,750 (5,197,462.50 South Korean Won)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows 10,000 EB-5 visas a year.

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) is the regulatory body that has the framework and monetary policy for moving assets and money outside of South Korea.

Our EB 5 Visa Cost page has all you need to know about the fees for an EB-5 Visa for South Korea investors. 

What is the Priority Date for EB5 Visa for South Korean Investors?

The status of EB5 Visa for South Korean investors remains “current” as per the visa bulletin from the U.S. Department of State (DOS). There is no retrogression (backlog) for the EB-5 Visa for South Korean investors.

What is the EB-5 Visa Statistics for South Korea Investors?

South Korea is the 30th country with the most EB 5 Visa issuances (0.11% of the total) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. South Korean investors were granted 2 EB5 Visas in FY 2024 through consular processing based on data from the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

What is the Best Project to Invest in with an EB-5 Visa for South Korea Investors?

The best EB5 projects for South Korean investors include hotel construction and real estate. A hotel construction EB5 project generates numerous jobs to meet the minimum job creation requirement of EB-5 Visa. A real estate EB-5 project has a readily understandable exit strategy for South Korea investors. EB5 Projects are the businesses invested in by South Korean investors to apply for EB5 Visa.

What Does the Future Hold for EB-5 Investors from South Korea?

The “current” status of the EB5 Visa for South Korean investors allows for faster application compared to citizens of China and India. This “current” status holds a high potential for the continuing growth of South Korean EB-5 investments.

What are the Differences Between EB-5 Visa and E-2 Visa for South Korea Investors?

Both the EB5 Visa and the E-2 Visa are immigrant investment programs. The E2 Visa permits a foreign national from a U.S. treaty country to invest in a new or existing U.S. business. A treaty country maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. South Korea has an existing treaty with the US. 

These are differences between the EB5 Visa vs E2 Visa

EB-5 Visa

  • No nationality requirement. South Korean investors can apply for an EB-5 Visa. 
  • A minimum investment of $800,000 (1,108,792,000 South Korean Won) in a new firm located in a targeted employment area.
  • 10 full-time jobs generated for qualified US citizens in the new business entity.

E2 Visa

  • Citizen of a nation with whom the United States has a treaty of trade and navigation. South Korean investors can apply for E-2 Visa.
  • Substantial capital investment, or be in the process of investing substantial capital, in a legitimate enterprise in the United States.
  • No requirements for a minimum number of jobs created. 

What is the Current Retrogression Situation for South Korean Investors?

There is no retrogression in the EB-5 Visa application for South Korean investors. The status of the EB5 Visa for South Korean investors remains “current” according to the visa bulletin from the U.S. Department of State (DOS).

What is a Targeted Employment Area?

A targeted employment area (TEA) is a region in the United States where the threshold for investment for a South Korean investor to be eligible for the EB-5 Visa is $800,000 (1,108,792,000 South Korean Won). The two kinds of targeted employment areas are high unemployment areas and rural areas.

What Other Countries can Invest in the EB-5 Visa Program?

About 80% of EB5 investors come from China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom according to Investment Migration Insider. Below are the top countries that apply for the EB-5 Visa.

Is USA a Good Foreign Market to Invest in for South Korea Citizens?

Yes, the U.S. DOS reports that 90% of South Korea investors prefer investing through regional centers for their EB-5 projects. Out of the 695 South Korea investors for EB-5 Visa in 2019, only 8 invested in direct projects. No EB5 Visa for South Korea investors was issued in 2020.

Is EB-5 Visa Popular to South Korean Investors?

Yes, South Korean investors continue to be in the top 5 countries that apply for the EB5 Visa. South Korean investors want to relocate to the US to be with their immigrant relations. Sending their children to US universities and expanding their investments in the US are additional benefits of the EB5 Visa for South Korean investors.

Can EB-5 Visa Attorney Speed Up the Process of EB-5 Visa?

Yes, an EB5 Visa attorney guides the South Korea investor to speed up the application for the EB-5 Visa. Errors during application and incomplete documentation are common causes of delays in the EB5 application. These delays in the EB-5 process can be prevented by hiring an Investor Visa Lawyer.

Is Obtaining an EB-5 Easy for South Korea Investors?

There is no retrogression in the visa bulletin for EB-5 Visa for South Korean investors. South Korean investors can get their EB-5 Visa faster than applicants from China and India who are experiencing retrogression.

Can a South Korean National Apply for EB 5 while on H1B?

Yes, a South Korean citizen with a valid H1B Visa can apply for an EB-5 Visa. The H-1B Visa is for foreign workers hired by US employers for specialty occupations such as architects and physicians. A South Korean citizen can submit multiple petitions including the EB5 Visa without canceling their H1B Visa. 

Can a South Korea Investor Borrow Money for EB-5 Visa?

Yes, South Korean investors can borrow money for their EB-5 Visa petition. The loan has to be backed up by assets and the collateral cannot be the same EB-5 business. We have a comprehensive guide on EB-5 Source of Funds Requirements for all you need to know about EB-5 funds. 

Can an International Student from South Korea with an F-1 Visa Apply for EB5 Visa? 

Yes, a South Korean student on F-1 Visa can apply for the EB-5 Visa. The F1 South Korean student should invest a minimum capital in a US business that creates 10 full-time jobs for US citizens to qualify for the EB5 Visa.