H1B to EB-5: How to Change an H-1B Visa to an EB-5 VisaChanging your status from an H-1B Visa to an EB-5 Visa provides a path to permanent residence in the United States. The H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant visa granted to foreign workers who want to be employed in the US. Transitioning from H-1B Visa to EB-5 Visa allows you, your spouse, and your children to become green card holders. You can live and work anywhere in the US when you apply for and get approval for an EB-5 Visa from H-1B Visa.

You can apply from H-1B Visa for the EB-5 Visa as long as your H1B status is valid. An investment is required to transition from H1B Visa to EB5 Visa. This investment should create and maintain jobs for American citizens.

What is H1B?

The H-1B Visa (Person in Specialty Occupation Visa) is a non-immigrant visa for workers outside of the United States. The H-1B Visa allows an employer from the US to hire an overseas worker if there is no American available to fill the position. The H-1B Visa employees work in tandem with American workers, cover employment gaps in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and increase employment prospects overall.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) puts an annual cap on H-1B Visas. USCIS approves approximately 65,000 H-1B visas every year. USCIS begins processing applications from October 1 to September 30 of the following year.

The validity of the H-1B Visa is 3 years, which can be extended to 6 years. After this, the H-1B Visa holder will need to reapply if he/she wishes to continue working in the US. Applying for the EB-5 Visa from H-1B Visa allows the foreign worker to remain in the US even without employer sponsorship.

What is the H1B Investment Option?

The H1B investment option makes it possible for an H1B visa holder to increase their earnings through investment. When you work in the US on an H-1B visa, you can earn enough money to cover your living expenses as well as save a sizable portion of it. Your savings from H1B work have the potential to increase at a better rate of return over time if you invest. H1B Investing helps you meet the EB-5 visa minimum capital requirements to transition from an H-1B Visa to an EB-5 Visa.

Here are 10 investment options for H-1B Visa holders to help raise EB-5 Visa minimum capital.

  1. A High Yield Savings Account (HYSA) is a type of savings account that pays approximately 20 to 25 times the national average of a conventional savings account.
  2. A Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a type of savings product that pays interest on a single sum of money for a predetermined amount of time. The risk involved is low and so is the return on investment. CD interest rates are slightly above HYSA though still below inflation.
  3. A 401k plan is a retirement account offered by companies instead of pensions. The money in your 401k account can be invested in the equity market in the form of bonds, stocks, and REITs.
  4. A Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is an account to which you can make pre-tax or post-tax contributions. You can select the asset class and investment funds based on the brokerage of your choosing.
  5. A Roth IRA is an IRA that allows for tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
  6. A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged account created to save for qualified medical expenses. Whether you can invest all of your HSA or part of it will depend on your provider.
  7. An Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) is a corporate-run program that enables participating employees to purchase company stock at a discounted price. Payroll deductions are used to purchase the stock.
  8. A Taxable Investment Account is more flexible in terms of money withdrawals than retirement plans. However, tax investment accounts do not give any tax advantages. The money can be invested in basic asset classes such as stocks/equities, bonds, and the money market (cash equivalents).
  9. A Real Estate Investment is real estate that is meant to be an investment rather than a permanent residence. An H-1B Visa holder is not allowed to manage a business directly. An H-1B Visa holder needs to employ a property management company to oversee the real estate property.
  10. A Foreign Currency Non-Resident Account (FCNR) is a type of fixed deposit held in a foreign currency. With this, you are protected from forex rate risks. The FCNR is a low-risk investment with low reward returns.

Learn more about H1B Investing to get an EB5 Visa from H1B.

How to Change from H1B Visa to EB-5 Visa?

To apply for the EB-5 Visa from H-1B Visa, first, maintain your valid H-1B status. Second, file Form I-526 (Immigration Petition by Alien Investor) to the USCIS.

The requirements needed upon filing I-526 are as follows.

  • A capital investment of $800,000 for TEA businesses or an amount of  $1.05 million for a non-TEA business is required.
  • The ability to create employment for at least 10 American citizens must be indicated in your business plan.
  • Legal acquisition of your source of funds for investment must be proven.

The H-1B Visa to EB-5 Visa application approval allows you to get a green card. First, file Form I-485 to adjust your status to have a conditional green card. Second, file Form I-829 after two years as a conditional permanent resident to become an unconditional green card holder. Third, apply for naturalization as a US citizen after 5 years as an unconditional permanent resident.

Your other petitions for permanent residency can still be processed together with your application for EB-5 Visa from H1B Visa.

How Long Does it Take to Get EB-5 from H1B?

The length of the application process for any visa depends on the number of petitions received by USCIS every year, including those still pending approval. On Average, processing EB-5 Visa from H-1B Visa can take 29.5 to 61 months.

As an H1B Visa worker living in the United States, you can concurrently file the EB-5 application I-526 and I-485 Adjustment of Status. This concurrent filing of I-526 form and I-485 form will get the H1B holder a Travel Document within 2 to 12 months depending on the USCIS Service Center Processing Time.

What is the Best Personal Loan for H1B Visa Holders?

The best personal loan for H1B visa holders is one that will help them to build credit. Being able to create and build credit is one of the main benefits of receiving a loan as an H-1B Visa holder in the US. Lack of credit history can restrict access to the availability of lines of credit for many visa holders in the U.S. Building a U.S. credit history through the Best Personal Loans for H-1B Visa Holders will be helpful for those aiming to change their H-1B to Green Card status.

5 personal loan options for H-1B Visa holders are as follows.

  1. Stilt offers flexible loan conditions and extensive eligibility requirements for H-1B Visa holders. You can loan up to $35,000. Loan terms can be between 12-36 months.
  2. SoFi provides the highest loanable amount, up to $100,000. Loan terms can be between 24-84 months.
  3. Marcus by Goldman Sachs gives loans to those with a credit score. For those without a credit score, you can apply if you are residing in the US, have a US bank account, and have a Social Security number.
  4. Upgrade offers multiple choices for credit lines: Upgrade Card, Upgrade Cash Rewards Card, Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card, and Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card.
  5. Earnest gives loans up to $100,000. It is an online loan broker.

What are the Differences Between H1B and EB-5 Visa?

The H-1B Visa continues to be a favored option for foreign workers who want to go to the US. Applying for an EB-5 Visa from an H-1B Visa eliminates factors such as its temporary status and work limitations. Transitioning from H-1B Visa to EB-5 Visa allows you and your family to obtain a green card.

Following are the 6 differences between the H-1B Visa and the EB-5 Visa.

  1. Work
    An H-1B Visa holder is limited in his/her employment options in the US. Once the H-1B status is no longer valid, the foreign worker will have to return to his/her home country. An EB-5 Visa investor, upon receiving the green card, can stay and work anywhere in the US even without employer sponsorship.
  2. Politics
    The EB-5 Visa is better accepted due to the creation of jobs for American workers and the boost to the US economy. Some consider the H-1B Visa as a threat to the local American workforce.
  3. Visa Requirements
    Visa requirements for the H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa are different. H-1B is geared more towards employment, while EB-5 is focused more on investment. Visa requirements for the H1-B Visa include the following.

    • The applicant must have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
    • The applicant will have a salary higher than the average salary for the job.
    • The employer cannot find an American worker to fill in for the job position. Visa requirements for the EB-5 Visa include the following.
    • The applicant must invest a minimum of $800,000 for a TEA business, or $1.05 million for a non-TEA business.
    • The applicant should generate full-time employment for at least 10 Americans.
    • The applicant should manage the business himself/herself if it is a direct investment.
  4. Family
    Both the H-1B Visa and EB-5 Visa allow applicants to bring their spouses and children with them to the US.The spouse of the H-1B Visa holder can work in the US under limited conditions with the H-4 Visa. H-4 Visa spouses were qualified for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) if the H-1B Visa status of their spouse is more than 6 months under the AC21 Act. The EAD applies if the H-4 Visa spouse had an approved I-140 (petition for a green card). The EB-5 Visa covers the applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. This means that they are all eligible for green card status.
  5. Annual Quotas
    There are 85,000 H-1B Visas approved every year. 20,000 of these applications are reserved for people with master’s degrees from US universities. Allotment of EB-5 Visas is at 700 for each country annually.
  6. Permanence and Duration
    The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa that paves for a faster green card application. They can then apply for citizenship and can lawfully stay in the US indefinitely.

The H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant visa with limited validity. Once the H-1B status has expired the holder will need to move back to his/her home country.

The EB-5 Visa Program provides a way to transition From H-1B to Green Card.

Can a Laid-off H1B Worker File for an EB-5 Visa?

Yes, laid-off H1B workers are eligible for an EB-5 Visa and can file their immigrant petition and adjustment of status application concurrently as long as they maintain their nonimmigrant status in the US. EB5 is the ideal alternative for laid-off H1B workers since there is no need to rely on employer sponsorship to keep working in the United States and apply for a Green Card. Additionally, concurrent filing for EB-5 enables you to obtain work authorization and a travel document while awaiting the approval of your Conditional Green Card.

What is EB-5?

EB-5 refers to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, under which foreign investors, and their spouses, and unmarried children under 21, are eligible to apply for a Green Card (permanent residence) if they make a qualifying investment in a business that adds to the U.S. economy. It is known as EB-5 because it is the employment-based fifth preference visa.

The investment must create or preserve full-time employment for a minimum of 10 American citizens. The investments are typically made in areas with high rates of unemployment, called a targeted employment area (TEA). The EB-5 Investor Visa was part of the Immigration Act of 1990, designed to encourage foreign investors to invest in a commercial enterprise in the U.S to boost the country’s economy.  In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, or the Regional Center Program, a program which sets aside EB-5 visas for investors who invest in regional center-related commercial enterprises which have been approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

How Much Does an EB-5 Investment Cost?

An EB-5 investment costs a minimum of $800,000 or 1.05 million. The required minimum amount for the investment is $800,000 for a commercial enterprise principally doing business in a targeted employment area (TEA) or $1.05 million for a non-TEA business.

EB-5 Investments can come in the form of any of the following.

  • A loan is a commitment to pay back the money to a lender. The lender could be either a business or an individual.
  • A gift is something that is freely given.
  • Inheritance is the possession of a deceased person passed on to their loved ones.
  • A bank statement is a piece of paper that the bank sends to the account holder every month. It lists the transactions made on the account during the previous month.
  • A business venture is any new commercial operation that involves risk.
  • A real estate asset is any improved or unimproved property, inclusive of any indirect or direct interest therein.
  • Employment earnings are the income from a job.
  • A stock is a security that denotes ownership of a certain percentage of the issuing business.

After being approved for the EB-5 Visa with the I-526 form, you can now apply for a green card. The first step for a green card application is the filing of Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, and pay a $1,140 fee. The second step of the EB-5 Greencard Process is the filing of Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, which costs $3,750, with a biometric services fee of $85. Attorney fees are separate from these costs.

What are the benefits of an EB-5 Visa?

The benefits of an EB-5 visa serve both the US and foreign investors. The EB-5 Visa Program boosts the American economy and generates employment for its citizens. The investor, his or her spouse, and their unmarried children under the age of 21 can experience the Advantages of an EB-5 Visa.

The 3 main benefits of having an EB-5 Visa from an H-1B Visa for investors are as follows.

  1. Provides a quicker path to a green card and US citizenship.
  2. Allows a legal stay in the US for the investor, his/her spouse, and their children.
  3. Gives the applicant the ability to live and travel all over the US.