Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor

Let us help you start your application today!

Last updated: April 4, 2024.

What is Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor?

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, is an immigration form used by foreign investors seeking to immigrate to the U.S. through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. 

The EB-5 program is designed to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.

Filing Form I-526 with USCIS is the first step in obtaining U.S. permanent residency (“green card”) through investments.

Here are some key points about Form I-526:

  • Purpose: The primary purpose of Form I-526 is to demonstrate that the foreign investor has made or is making a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise that will create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.
  • Investment Requirements: Investors typically need to invest a certain amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise. The required investment amount may vary depending on whether the investment is made in a targeted employment area (TEA) or a non-TEA. TEAs are either rural areas or areas with high unemployment rates.
  • Job Creation: The investment must result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission to the U.S. as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
  • Submission Process: Investors file Form I-526 along with supporting documents with USCIS. Upon approval, the investor can either apply for adjustment of status if they are already in the U.S., or they can go through consular processing if they are outside the U.S.
  • Conditional Permanent Residency: If the petition is approved, the investor and their qualifying family members are granted conditional permanent residency in the U.S. for a two-year period.
  • Removal of Conditions: After the two-year period, the investor must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, to remove the conditions on their permanent residency. This involves demonstrating that the required jobs have been created, and the investment has been maintained.
  • U.S. citizenship: Investors and their family members can apply for U.S. citizenship 4 years and 9 months after obtaining their first green card.

Who is eligible to file Form I-526?

Foreign investors must meet the following criteria to be eligible to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor:

  • Direct Investment vs. Regional Center Investment: Form I-526 can be filed only by standalone investors making direct investment into a new commercial enterprise. Foreign nationals investing in a new commercial enterprise that is affiliated with a regional center, must file Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor
  • Investment in a New Commercial Enterprise: The petitioner must make a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise. This can be either the creation of an original business or the purchase and restructuring of an existing business. 
  • Capital Investment Requirement: The investor must invest the required amount of capital in the new commercial enterprise. The minimum investment amount varies depending on whether the investment is made in a targeted employment area (TEA) or a non-TEA. TEAs are areas with high unemployment rates or designated as rural areas:
    • The required capital for a non-TEA area is $1,050,000
    • The required minimum capital is reduced to $800,000 if the business is principally operating in a “targeted employment area” (TEA).
  • Job Creation Requirement: The investment must lead to the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers. These jobs must be created within two years of the investor’s admission to the U.S. as a Conditional Permanent Resident. Qualifying U.S. workers include:
    • U.S. citizens
    • Green card holders, or
    • Other immigrants authorized to be employed 
    • Investor, investor’s spouse, investor’s sons and daughters cannot be counted as qualifying U.S. workers
  • Lawful Source of Funds: The investor must demonstrate that the invested capital comes from a lawful source. This involves providing evidence of the legality of the funds used for the investment.
  • At-Risk Requirement: The investor’s capital must be at risk for the purpose of generating a return on the investment. The investment cannot be a purely passive investment.
  • Admissibility to the U.S.: The investor and their family members must be admissible to the United States. Certain grounds of inadmissibility, such as criminal history or health issues, may affect eligibility.

Form I-526 filing fee

The filing fee for Form I-526 is $11,160.

You can use USCIS Fee Calculator to determine the correct amount of the filing fees.

USCIS fees are subject to change, check the latest Form I-526 filing fee on the USCIS website.

Form I-526 checklist of required documents

The following documents must be submitted with your Form I-526 application (provide photocopies only):

Required evidence

Examples of acceptable documents

Evidence of a “new” commercial enterprise  Proof that the enterprise was formed after November 29, 1990:

  • If a corporation – articles of incorporation, bylaws, shareholder list, stock certificate
  • If a limited partnership – partnership agreement, partnership registration, list of limited partners, limited partner certificate
  • If a limited liability company (LLC) – articles of organization, operating agreement, member schedule and certificate
If existing business was reorganized/restructured or existing business was expanded Reorganized or restructured enterprise:

  • Evidence that enterprise was formed before November 29, 1990 (example: articles of incorporation)
  • Evidence that required capital was invested into business after November 29, 1990 
  • Evidence of substantial reorganization or restructuring

Expanded enterprise:

  • Evidence that enterprise was formed before November 29, 1990 (example: articles of incorporation)
  • Evidence that required capital was invested into business after November 29, 1990 
  • Evidence that existing business has increased its net worth or number of employees by 40% (examples: income tax returns, audited financial statements, employment tax filings)
Evidence of investment 
  • Transfer of cash and cash equivalents, inventory, equipment, other tangible property
Evidence of “targeted employment area” (if applicable)
  • State designation of TEA (targeted employment area) describing the basis for its designation (examples: letter from State of Washington – Employment Security Department), 
  • Statistical evidence of TEA qualification (examples: U.S. Department of Labor national average unemployment rate data, research statistics published by state workforce agency), or
  • U.S. Census Bureau Population data, county identification, and information on Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) establishing “rural” area.
Capital “at risk”
  • Documents showing investor’s present commitment of funds
  • Evidence of how capital has been or will be utilized by the enterprise (examples: detailed budget, purchase agreements, receipts, invoices, bank statements reflecting withdrawal of funds, loan or investment agreements, etc.)
  • Business plan (description of business, products and services; marketing analysis, review of competition; marketing strategy; organizational chart; construction and/or operations timeline; hiring plan for employees)
  • Financial documents (income tax returns, financial statements, federal and state quarterly income tax filings)
  • Business operation documents (business license, certificate of occupancy)
  • Sample business transaction details (customer invoices, office improvements, utility bills, lease agreement, recent bank statements, marketing materials, website)
Lawful source of investment
  • Investor’s five years of income tax returns (personal and business)
  • Investor’s CV
  • Certified copies of judgments or evidence of pending civil or criminal actions involving monetary judgments against investor (if any)
  • Detailed explanation and documentation regarding actual source of investment capital (employment earnings, stock sale, gift, loan proceeds, sale of real property or business, inheritance)
  • Detailed documentation tracing investment capital from investor to EB-5 commercial enterprise (bank statements reflecting outgoing transfers and corresponding deposits of investment funds)
Evidence of employment creation  If 10 full-time jobs were created at time of I-526 filing:

  • Payroll records
  • W-2 forms
  • I-9 forms
  • Organizational chart
  • Detailed list of employees
  • Detailed list of job descriptions

If 10 full-time jobs were not created at time of I-526 filing:

  • Detailed business plan reflecting plan and timeline for hiring workers
  • Proposed organizational chart
  • Detailed list of workers
  • Detailed job descriptions

If invested in a “troubled” business:

  • Evidence that number of existing employees will be maintained (payroll records, W-2 forms, I-9 forms of employees, business plan)
  • Evidence of “troubled” business (financial statements and tax returns)

If invested in regional center:

  • Business plan
  • Economist report discussing creation of employment (directly and/or indirectly) resulting from investment
  • Third-party validated data that was used by economist (construction expenditures, revenues, etc.)
Investor’s management responsibilities 
  • Formal agreement (limited partnership agreement, shareholder agreement, operating agreement, corporate resolution)
  • Declaration (if sole proprietor)
Only if invested in Regional Center
  • USCIS letter approving the designation of the regional center
  • Affiliation agreement between the EB-5 enterprise and regional center (if any)
  • Documentation to show that the EB-5 enterprise is within the scope of target industries or activities approved by USCIS in the regional center
  • Documentation to establish that the EB-5 enterprise is located geographically within boundaries of designated regional center territory

How to file Form I-526

The process of filing Form I-526 involves the following steps:

Step 1. Download the Form I-526:

  • Obtain the latest edition of Form I-526, from the USCIS website.
  • USCIS will reject any outdated editions of Form I-526

Step 2. Gather Supporting Documents:

  • Collect all the necessary supporting documents (see the checklist below). 
  • Unless directed otherwise, submit only photocopies of the documents

Step 3. Complete the Form:

  • Fill out the form accurately and completely. Sign and date the form in ink.
  • USCIS does not accept computer-generated or stamped signatures
  • Fill out and submit Form G-1145 to receive an electronic notification containing USCIS receipt number by text message or email

Step 4. Filing fee payment:

  • Check the USCIS website for the most current filing fee
  • Acceptable forms of payment include: money order, personal check, cashier’s check or credit card payment (fill out Form G-1450)
  • If paying by check, the check must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Step 5. Mail the Application:

  • Once the form is completed and the supporting documents are gathered, filing fee payment is submitted, mail the entire packet to the correct filing address (“Where to File” section).
  • It’s recommended to mail the application via express mail with a tracking number
  • Make a copy of the completed application for your records

Step 6. Check Application Status:

  • USCIS will mail the receipt notice 2-3 weeks after the submission date
  • You can track the status of your application online by entering the receipt number 

Step 7. Wait for Processing:

  • USCIS will process your application, and if additional information or document is needed, an RFE notice will be mailed to you. Once processed, you will receive a decision on your application by mail.

Where to send Form I-526?

Completed Form I-526 application must be mailed to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox.

The correct filing address depends on whether you use USPS or FedEx, UPS and DHL.

Check the current Form I-526 filing address on the USCIS website.

Can I file Forms I-526 and I-485 concurrently if I am in the U.S.?

Some applicants physically present in the U.S. in lawful nonimmigrant status and who are otherwise eligible for Adjustment of Status, may file Forms I-526 and I-485 concurrently (at the same time) if the visa number for their EB-5 category is “current”.

Learn more about visa numbers and concurrent filing in our guides:

What happens after filing Form I-526?

After filing Form I-526, “Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor,” the following steps typically occur:

  • Receipt Notice (2 weeks): After USCIS receives Form I-526, they issue a receipt notice to acknowledge that they have registered the petition. This notice provides a unique receipt number that can be used to track the status of the case online.
  • Biometrics Appointment (1.5-2 months): For investors physically present in the U.S., USCIS may schedule a biometrics appointment for the investor and their family members (if applicable). Attending the biometrics appointment is mandatory. Failure to attend a scheduled biometrics appointment might result in denial of your petition. 
  • Request for Additional Evidence (RFE): USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) if additional information or documentation is needed to adjudicate the Form I-526 petition. It is crucial for investors to respond to any RFE within the specified timeframe.
  • Adjudication: USCIS reviews the petition, along with any additional evidence provided, to determine whether the investor has met the requirements for obtaining EB-5 immigration status. 
  • Approval or Denial: Based on the review, USCIS will either approve or deny the Form I-526 petition. If approved, the investor and their family members can either:
  • Conditional Green Card: Investor and his/her spouse and unmarried children under 21 will receive a conditional two-year green card.
  • Removal of Conditions: 90 days before the expiration date of a conditional green card, investors and their family members must file Form I-829, “Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status” to remove conditions on their permanent residence and obtain unconditional 10-year green card.
  • U.S. Citizenship: 4 years and 9 months after obtaining their first green card, investors and their dependents can apply for U.S. citizenship by filing Form N-400 with USCIS.

Form I-526 processing time

According to the information published on the USCIS website, the Form I-526 processing time depends on the country of investor’s birth:

  • China (mainland born) – 85.5 months
  • All other areas – 55.5 months

To check the most current processing times for Form I-526:

Keep in mind that processing times are general estimates, and individual cases may take less or more time to complete.

Additionally, USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) during the processing of your application, which can add to the overall processing time. 

It’s crucial to respond promptly and thoroughly if you receive an RFE to avoid delays.

If your case is outside the normal processing time, you place an Outside Normal Processing Time e-Request or request assistance from your local congressman’s office.

Related Links:

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa – How to Apply

Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor

Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status