Nearly every ranking of top universities features US institutions at the forefront, attracting millions of international students seeking a brighter future and a strong foundation for their careers. Many students aspire to build an international career and gain valuable experience to enhance their CV, while others view the US as an ideal destination to establish their lives. In this article, we’ll look into how the EB-5 investment program can assist international students in maximizing their education and establishing themselves in America.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/2024

The EB-5 Program is a US government initiative that grants foreigners a Permanent Residence in the US, also known as a Green Card, with investments starting at $800,000. The application can encompass a family, including the main applicant, their spouse, and children under 21. Over the last twenty years, almost 80,000 families worldwide have relocated to the US through the EB-5 program.

When you think of the EB-5 program, you might imagine it’s exclusively for successful entrepreneurs or established individuals with ample experience. However, a significant number of applicants are actually students.

How is this possible?

Firstly, it’s understandable why students would be keen on staying in the US after graduation. Having spent a few years in the country, they may have established a circle of friends and grown accustomed to the culture and environment, which can make the idea of returning to their home country less appealing. Moreover, there’s a natural inclination to leverage the strength of their US education by starting their careers in the country.

However, obtaining a Residence Permit in the US isn’t straightforward, even with a US education. The demand is high, the requirements are stringent, and the conventional path of securing employment and obtaining an OPT (Optional Practical Training) and H1B visa restricts one’s career options to their field of study, necessitating sponsorship from a company to obtain immigration documents.

The EB-5 program offers an appealing alternative because it allows:

  • Self-petitioning: No need to secure sponsorship from an employer.
  • Fewer requirements: No prior work experience necessary.
  • Relatively low cost compared to US education expenses*.
  • A clear pathway to US citizenship after residing in the US for five years with a Green Card.

EB-5 Program

Full overview of the EB-5 Program

Next, we will look at the specific benefits of the EB-5 program separately for prospective students and for current students.

What does an EB-5 Program (Green Card) provide for prospective US students?

For future students, there is a possibility to significantly reduce the costs of education, especially if they have a few kids. However, this would require planning and moving to the US a few years before the start of university.

Benefits include:

1. Lower tuition fees

Public US universities offer different fees for in-state students and non-residents. The difference varies from university to university. For example, at Berkeley and UCLA in California, in-state undergraduate tuition and fees are estimated at $15,000 to $20,000 for the 2023-24 academic year, while non-residents face supplemental fees of $32,000 to $34,000.

2. Wider choice of grants and scholarships

In 2023, an astonishing $46 billion was awarded annually in scholarship money by the U.S. Department of Education, with an additional $7.4 billion from private sources. The majority of these funds go to US residents.

3. Cheaper education loans

Federal loans are available only to US residents, with interest rates ranging from 4.5% to 9%. In contrast, loans for international students can vary from 11% to 16%. In many cases, the option of repayment after graduation is available.

What does an EB-5 Program (Green Card) provide for current US students?

Possibility to work while studying. Students who are in the US on an F1 visa have strict limitations on hours and places where they can work, while Green Card holders can work anywhere and for as many hours as their studies allow.

Internship Opportunities. Even during internships, many potential employers prefer candidates with resident documents to simplify their future hiring processes.

Wide choice of employment options upon graduation. Holding a Green Card dramatically widens the choice of employment options available.

Higher salary. A wider choice of employment options can clearly lead to a higher salary. In fact, you may recoup the costs of the EB-5 program in just a few years through salary differences.

Now let’s move on to the main two options of the EB-5 program for the student’s family. This includes the option for the entire family, a part of the family, or solely the student to relocate.

EB-5 Visa cost

Full investment and expenses breakdown

Options for Participation in the EB-5 Program

For parents considering sponsoring these applications, it’s important to understand that there are two options:

Option 1 – Sponsoring only 1 Child:

In this case, the child is the main applicant in the EB-5 program, and only they receive a Green Card. The source of funds must be proven for the parents, and they can gift funds to their children. Depending on the child’s age, the project’s location, and project policies, there may be some additional requirements to be met, but they are usually not too difficult to fulfill.

Option 2 – Family Application:

In this scenario, the main applicant can be a mother or father, and the application can include one or two parents and all unmarried children under the age of 21. Thus, with one investment, you will have an opportunity to receive a Green Card for the whole family. In some cases, when one parent is actively involved in business and not ready to move to the US and become a tax resident, some families may consider an EB-5 for the second parent and kids only, while the first parent can join them later.

Whichever option is chosen, investment in the EB-5 program will open many new doors for your children, helping them to build a brighter future in the US. However, as the process is quite lengthy, it should be planned well in advance to maximize the benefits.

* Costs in the EB-5: The investment starts at $800,000, and if the investment project is chosen wisely, you can expect a return on this investment within 4 to 7 years. Non-refundable costs for the EB-5 may vary between $50,000 and $200,000 US dollars*

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/2024