Why the EB-5 Visa Is Right for Graduate Students
For graduate students from high-net-worth families, the EB-5 visa is one of the best ways not only to obtain a Green Card but for receiving an education at a U.S. university. Unlike other types of visas often used by graduate students, such as the F-1, the EB-5 does not limit where the visa holder can live or work in the U.S. or attend school. Those with an EB-5 visa can remain in the U.S. after graduation and start or continue working. For those whose families can afford the EB-5 investment, this is an incredible opportunity. Even if investing in an EB-5 visa project requires some financial sacrifice, the long-term benefits should make the investment worthwhile for the graduate student.
EB-5 Visas for Graduate Students
Top graduate schools in the U.S. are extremely competitive, so applicants need every advantage possible. One big advantage is U.S. residency, as far more domestic applicants to prestigious graduate schools gain acceptance than those with foreign residency.
Once accepted, the student with an EB-5 visa may qualify for lower in-state tuition rates, if they reside in the state in which their school is located. Students may also qualify for student aid, after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), opportunities that are generally limited to U.S. residents. Graduate students with an EB-5 visa are eligible for merit-based awards, which is not the case with other types of visa holders.
The EB-5 Visa
If a parent has already received a Green Card via the EB-5 visa, the spouse and unmarried children under age 21 should also receive Green Cards. When students receives Green Cards before turning 21, there is no need for them to make an EB-5 investment on their own. As permanent residents, they benefit from their parents’ foresight in obtaining an EB-5 visa.
However, when students are aged 21 or over and have not received a Green Card, they must make their own EB-5 investment to qualify. If their EB-5 application is filed prior to November 20, 2019, the minimum cost of an EB-5 investment in a Regional Center project is $500,000. Regional Centers, designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for capital investment sponsorship, pool funds from many investors to create their projects. After that date, the cost of the EB-5 visa investment rises to a minimum of $900,000, with the amount adjusted for inflation every five years.
As long as the EB-5 investment meets all the required conditions, including the creation of 10 fulltime, permanent American jobs within two years, the investor receives a Green Card. Most EB-5 applicants receive their conditional Green Cards within two years, so they can make graduate school applications plans.
Better Employment Opportunities
Graduate school is just a part of the EB-5 visa equation. After graduation, it is much easier for a Green Card holder to find employment in his or her field than it is for someone who does not hold permanent resident status. In fact, many companies simply will not hire non-U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Compare the ease with which those with an EB-5 visa can look for work with an F-1 international student visa holder. The latter must find a job within three months of graduation or leave the U.S. Even if an F-1 student does find a job, if it is not within their field of study, they cannot remain in the country. Perhaps the student can find a company willing to sponsor them through an H-1B visa, but firms agreeing to go that route are the exception rather than the rule. An HB-1 visa holder must possess special skills in order for a company to consider sponsorship. Even if a company does agree to sponsor an employee for an H-1B visa, the individual must abide by additional regulations, including living within close proximity to the sponsoring employer. None of these limitations affect those with an EB-5 visa.
The EB-5 Investment
Unless a student is independently wealthy in his or her own right, EB-5 investment funds are generally supplied by the family. The investment decision, however, may be made by the student, acting on professional advice. While the Regional Center investment process requires a great deal of research and due diligence, it can serve as an important learning process, especially for those seeking a business or financial career.
How Lightstone Can Help
As one of the largest privately held real estate companies in the country, Lightstone has raised more than $400 million in EB-5 investments and created nearly 10,000 jobs nationwide. We currently have more than $6 billion in assets under management and development. If you would like more information about the EB-5 visa and its benefits for graduate students, please fill out our contact form.