Frequently Asked Questions: Visas, Green Cards & Immigration Law

As a result of assisting hundreds of immigration clients with various visa matters in past years, our immigration lawyers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to check back often as this list is continually updated. Still have a question? Contact us today to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney.

  • Page 2
  • I recently filed for adjustment of status. Can I work while my application is pending?

    It depends. Immigrants who have filed for  adjustment of status(AOS)—Form I-485—are able to work as long as they have acquired an employment authorization document. It may take some time for USCIS to process your application, so it is important that your work authorization extends for the full length of time it takes to grant you your adjustment of status.


    Here are a few things to remember about filing for adjustment of status:


    • All applicants who wish to work with a pending AOS must obtain employment authorization unless they were admitted to the U.S. under a non-immigrant status that allows them to work, such as H-1B.
    • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) can be concurrently filed with your AOS application.
    • Employment authorization applications typically take 90 days to be adjudicated. If the immigrant’s application requires additional information or extended background checks, the decision may take longer.
    • Applicants may be granted up to 2 years of employment authorization while the AOS process is completed. If the application process takes longer than two years, the applicant may renew his/her EAD.


    It is important to keep your work authorization current and to apply for a renewal well in advance of an expiry date. Any length of U.S. employment without authorization may jeopardize your visa status and your family’s ability to apply for permanent residence. If you are unsure of your work status, our attorneys can advise you on what steps you need to take to maintain legal residency.


    Feel free to contact us for more information.

  • Should I use an EB-5 “escrow” account to transfer money to my regional center?

    While it is not required, many foreign investors will choose to use an EB-5 escrow account to transfer the initial amount of funds to their selected business.

    An escrow account is an interest-bearing bank account. This type of account is typically used to keep large amounts of money for sales of real estate, property, and businesses secure until all transactions are complete. In the case of an EB-5 investment, the business or regional center establishes the escrow account and the investor transfers the required amount of funds. The money is held in the account until official notification from USCIS that the petition has been received or approved, at which time the investment funds are disbursed to business or project.

    In order to hold your EB-5 funds in an escrow account, you must ensure that:

    • It is stated in the escrow agreement that the entire amount of required capital will be committed to the regional center or new commercial enterprise, and that funds will be immediately disbursed upon either receipt or approval of the investor’s EB-5 petition.
    • The bank or financial institution where the account is established must have no relationship to the immigrant, the new commercial enterprise, regional center or their affiliates.
    • The escrow agreement should specify that the investor’s money will be returned if his EB-5 petition is not filed or withdrawn.

    Unfortunately, there are many disreputable third-parties that will offer escrow services to immigrants under false pretenses. Our attorneys can help protect your investment even before it begins. Contact Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C.  for more information, or order our FREE guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.

  • I am applying for an immigrant visa and my goal is permanent U.S. residence. Can my green card ever be taken away?

    Yes. Once you receive a green card, there two major conditions that could cause it to be revoked. The first is if you are convicted of a serious crime; the second is if you abandon your U.S. residence.

    “Abandonment of residence” is the most common reason immigrants jeopardize their permanent residence. While you are allowed to travel with your green card, you must not establish a permanent residence anywhere other than the United States. If you stay out of the country for too long, USICS may assume that you have abandoned your U.S. residence.

    If you will be out of the country for an indeterminate amount of time, you should:

    • Apply for a re-entry permit. Depending on the length of your absence, your green card may not be used as a viable U.S. entry document. You must apply for a reentry permit from USCIS before you leave the country.
    • Maintain your residence. Actions such as closing your U.S. bank accounts, selling property, or taking family members with you may be seen as abandoning your home in the U.S.

    It is important to note that naturalization laws also require immigrants to be physically present in the U.S. for a period of time before they may acquire U.S. citizenship. Our attorneys can help protect you and your family if you need to travel abroad suddenly.

  • How do I apply for Adjustment of Status?

    Many EB-5 investors want to know what final steps they need to take in order to be granted permanent residence in the U.S. If you are already living in the U.S., the process is fairly straightforward: you will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

    While it only takes one official form to change your status, applicants will need to include many pieces of supporting evidence in order for Form I-485 to be approved. Petitioners should be prepared to submit the following documentation along with their application:

    • A copy of your government-issued photo ID
    • A copy of your birth certificate
    • Two passport-sized photos of you
    • A copy of your passport page with a previous non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
    • A copy of passport page with previous entry stamp (if applicable)
    • Certified copies of any arrest record or court records (if applicable)
    • Form I-94 (Arrival/ Departure Record)
    • Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record)
    • An approved copy of your Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur)

    Once these forms have been gathered and completed, you may submit your application to USICIS. If you wish to receive green cards for your spouse and unmarried children, they may be included on your immigration petition, but will all need to file separate Forms I-485 for consideration.

  • I am an EB-5 investor currently living in the U.S. How can I become a permanent resident?

    Before you can become a permanent resident, you must first petition to have your immigrant status adjusted. This will make you a conditional permanent resident; after a period of time, the conditions may be removed, and you will lawfully be a permanent resident of the U.S.

    In order to do this, you must have an approved Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Once your priority date is current, you can apply for conditional permanent residence using Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

    Generally speaking, it can take between six months to one year to receive approval for Form I-485. Once you are approved, both you and your eligible family members may receive 2 years of “conditional” permanent resident status in the U.S. This may include spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21.

    During your two years of conditional residency, you must continue to operate under the conditions of your EB-5 visa, including upholding the job and investment requirements. Up to 90 days before your conditional residence expires, you are required to file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. 

    Our trusted attorneys at Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C. can help you with the steps of the investor immigration process, including the removal of your conditional residency—the final step to permanent residence in the U.S. 

    Contact us today for more information. 

  • Can I use money from an inheritance to fund my EB-5 investment?

    Yes, but it will require filing a few additional documents. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service allows investments to be made with capital from an inheritance, but in order to do this, you will have to provide the following forms of evidence along with your EB-5 immigration application:

    • A copy of the benefactor’s death certificate 
    • A document clarifying the relationship between the investor and the deceased
    • A receipt outlining the total amount of the investor’s inheritance
    • A record of the transmission of inherited funds from the deceased to the investor
    • Proof of payment of any inheritance tax

    In some cases, such as if the deceased and the investor were not directly related, it can be difficult to explain the nature of the inheritance. In these instances, USCIS may ask you to provide an additional statement to thoroughly clarify your relationship with the deceased and the circumstances surrounding the inheritance.

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., our trusted EB-5 green card lawyers can help you prepare your application and answer any questions you may have about the investment process, improving your chances of getting your application approved. 

    Fill out the contact form on this page to get started. You can also get answers immediately in our FREE informational guide, Investor's Path to a Green Card: How Investing in America Can Put You and Your Family on the Path to Greater Wealth and U.S. Permanent Residency.

  • How do I become a permanent resident after securing a conditional green card through the EB-5 visa program?

    After you have been part of the EB-5 green card program for two years – and after you have successfully invested your money in a United States business, regional center, or project – you may file for permanent residency. When you move from having a conditional green card to being a permanent resident, many restrictions are lifted, and your freedom to work, live, and travel increases. 

    In order to secure permanent residency, you must file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services within 90 days of your two-year conditional green card anniversary. This form should be filed with the USCIS California Service Center and comes with a fee of $3,835 – read the instructions carefully. In addition, a biometrics services fee of $85 is due for each dependent staying with you. 

    Do you need assistance with your EB-5 investment immigration plan, or help removing the conditions from your residency status after two years of having a conditional green card? The Investment Immigration lawyers at Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C. can help guide you and your family through the process and to permanent, unconditional residency in the United States. 

  • Is it possible for a foreigner to retire to the United States?

    While some other countries offer foreigners retirement visas, sometimes known as silver cards, the United States does not have a retirement visa program – and has no current plans of creating one. However, just because the U.S. does not specifically have a visa program for retirees does not mean that there are no options for those who wish to spend their golden years on American soil. 

    Retire In The U.S. with EB-5 Investor Visa

    If you do not have a close relative who is a United States Citizen and who can sponsor you, your best option for retiring to the U.S. might be an EB-5 investor’s visa. Geared toward foreigners who have accumulated significant wealth and who would like to live and invest in the United States, the EB-5 visa grants eventual permanent residency to those who are willing to invest either $800,000 or $1.05 million in an American business or project. 

    Retirement Options Are Possible for EB-5 Investors 

    Although it can be difficult to retire in the U.S., and while there is no specific visa program for retirees, there are viable options to consider, especially if you have retirement money that you plan on investing.

    If you have questions about retiring in the United States with the EB-5 investment Visa, contact us today to discuss. 

  • I am a Chinese citizen interested in an EB-5 investment visa. Will I face any specific challenges as a Chinese applicant?

    While Chinese citizens may face some specific challenges in applying for an EB-5 visa, these can be overcome with guidance from a qualified attorney. Some challenges facing potential Chinese investors are:

    Source of Funds

    Regulation that requires evidence of the lawful source of capital may pose a challenge for some Chinese investors, because of the differences between Chinese and American tax and financial regulation systems. In addition, tracing the path of funds may be further complicated by the Chinese government's currency restrictions, which limits remittance of currency to $50,000 per individual per year.

    Ties To the Communist Party

    Chinese citizens who are interested in an EB-5 visa should also be aware of the regulations regarding the admission of former members of the Communist Party.

    Difficulties Selecting A Regional Center

    Finally, there have been some reports in China of bad practice on the part of some agents from EB-5 regional centers, who have made promises to Chinese investors that were unethical. When you begin to research regional centers, be wary of any representatives or agents who make claims that seem too good to be true; they probably are!

    In general, effective communication with an attorney experienced in working with Chinese EB-5 petitioners is the best way to overcome the roadblocks that may arise as a result of the disparities between American and Chinese legal and financial systems. Contact Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C. online to get your questions about the EB-5 program answered. 

  • What advantage does the investor based green card route provide me?

    The two main advantages of this investment based immigration route are the speed by which an applicant receives legal permanent residence in the U.S., and the lack of several application requirements that often make the green card process prohibitive for many applicants. To get a better idea of these advantages let us quickly consider the general path that persons not availing themselves of the investor based green card process must endure:

    An applicant would first have to apply for a non-immigrant visa such as an H-1B or L-1 visa. To do this an applicant would need to have an employer, which by itself can already be prohibitive for many people. One must also convince USCIS of your educational and experiential qualifications and that you are going to be engaging in a qualifying occupation. If one manages to qualify for such a non-immigrant visa it would then only be granted for a period of 1 or 3 years depending on certain factors. After that time is used up on the non-immigrant visa one would have to apply for an extension which is by no means assured. If an applicant then wishes to apply for a green card and adjust status from the H-1B or an L-1 visa to an immigrant visa (green card), then another arduous process begins. In some cases this requires finding a sponsoring employer for the green card case, having the company conduct recruitment advertising, and justifying why the company needs the applicant and cannot find suitable employees in the U.S. to complete the applicant's job. As one can imagine, this process is often difficult, especially in the current economic situation in the U.S. Often times this whole process can take 3-5 years or more.