If you’re looking to obtain a green card through investing in the United States, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has bad news for you: Already-lengthy processing times will continue to increase, even in the face of unambiguous statutory and regulatory mandates placed upon the government. These lengthy processing times may create bureaucratic headaches, difficulty in proving ongoing legal status, and missed alternative investment opportunities. Unfortunately in such cases, the only remedy to speed along the process may lie in filing a suit for mandamus.

How Investment-based Immigration Works

Immigrant investors obtain lawful permanent residence (i.e., the status of having a green card) through a unique program known as EB-5. This program provides that investors are to receive permanent green cards in two steps. First, an investor must file a petition (known as an I-526), which requires him or her to demonstrate that he or she will create 10 full-time jobs for American workers within two-and-a-half years of petition approval. While he or she can use a qualifying $500,000 or $1 million capital investment (depending on geography) to start and manage his or her own business, the vast majority of investors pool their investments into larger projects that are sold as securities offerings and managed by others to create more than 10 full-time American jobs per investor. After approval of the I-526, an investor is granted a green card that is valid for only two years, called conditional permanent residence. That status allows the investor to live in the United States and, if necessary, operate the business. Within 90 days before the expiry of the conditional permanent residence, however, the investor must file a petition to remove the conditions of his or her residency, known as an I-829, or face deportation. At that time the investor must prove, among other things, that he or she has sustained the investment and created or can be expected to create the requisite jobs within a reasonable period of time. Upon approval, the investor has the condition removed from his or her residence and is issued a “permanent” green card on the same basis as any other legal immigrant. The investor may also become a naturalized U.S. citizen, generally after holding conditional and permanent resident status for a total of five years.

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