The US immigration system provides the right to apply for US citizenship to its permanent residents (Green Card holders) after they have resided in the US for more than 3/ 5 years. Investors whose aim is to get a US passport need to start by first obtaining a Green Card. In this article, we will explain the differences between a Green Card and citizenship, and what the process of obtaining US citizenship through investment looks like.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 05/2024

A Green Card gives Lawful Resident Status in the US. A Green Card holder enjoys the same rights as citizens, except for the right to vote in elections and to hold government positions. With benefits, there are some obligations – Green Card holders should reside in the United States for more than 6 months a year and pay taxes there.

Once you get a US passport, you become a full-fledged citizen of the United States. You gain the right to vote in elections, visa-free entry to 185 countries worldwide, the ability to freely reside in another country, and count on assistance from the American consulate outside the US.

Green CardUS Citizenship
DefinitionPermanent residency in the US
US Passport 
RightsSimilar to citizens, excluding voting and holding government positions.Full rights, including voting and consulate assistance abroad.
RequirementsReside in the US for over 6 months annually and pay taxes.Pay taxes and can live anywhere.

The EB-5 program allows foreign investors to receive a Green Card in the US and provides a clear pathway to US citizenship. 

To meet the EB-5 program requirements, investors must invest a minimum of $800,000 in a US commercial project, creating at least 10 jobs. More than 80,000 families have settled in the US in the last 20 years using this program.

3 steps to US citizenship with the EB-5 program

Let’s check what the process of getting US citizenship with the EB-5 program looks like:

  1. Conditional Green Card
  2. Permanent Green Card
  3. US Citizenship

Step 1: Conditional Green Card

For the first step, you will need to select a suitable project and transfer your funds to the investment project. Confirmation of the funds transfer, along with the investor’s personal documents, are submitted to USCIS. This is the first petition within the EB-5 program. If all requirements are met, upon approval of this application, the investor and their family will receive their Conditional Green cards, valid for 2 years.

The main focus at this step is to select a project that fits the requirements of the EB-5 program. Typically, over 93% of investors opt for the passive investment option, investing with a Regional Center – which acts, in a way, like a fund manager for your investment. 

Regional Centers offer projects where you can invest. Normally the investment term of such projects is  4 – 7 years, and at the end of the term, you can get a full payback.

Step 2: Permanent Green Card

At the end of 2 years of Conditional Residency in the US –  an investor with a Regional Center’s help should demonstrate the creation of 10 new jobs. It is done by filing a second petition.

Upon approval of the petition, the investor and their family receive a Permanent Green Card valid for 10 years, with the option of unlimited extensions. They become permanent residents of the United States, completing their EB-5 immigration process. 

Step 3: US Citizenship

If your goal is a US passport, you must reside in the US for 5 years from the date of obtaining a Conditional Green Card.

Additionally, to qualify for US citizenship, you must be at least 18 years old, demonstrate a physical presence in the US for at least 30 months out of the five years following Green Card issuance, and establish residency in the state or USCIS district where you file your application.

The path to US citizenship involves completing application paperwork, passing a background check, an interview assessing knowledge of US history, language, and governmental structure, and finally, taking the oath of allegiance.

After completing the formalities, you obtain your naturalization certificate, granting you the right to apply for a passport. 

The entire journey to US citizenship through investment with the EB-5 program can take around 10 years.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 05/2024