The below post was originally written in December 2011 and updated in August 2013. – jp

The most frequently asked question we get from prospective investors is “How soon after I apply for the EB-5 visa can I enter the United States?” Adding up all the months on the lower end, you can expect to be able to enter the country in approximately one year, but it often takes longer.

1. Selecting the right Regional Center project (1 to 3 months): choosing the right project can take longer than you expect. In addition to the time it takes to learn about the process enough to be comfortable about investing, potential investors also might have to wait until a prospective project they learned about through pre-launch information opens and accepts subscribers.

2. Preparing the application (approximately 1 month): this is the time that it will take your lawyer to prepare the application.**

3. Form I-526 review: as of June 30, 2013 Official USCIS I-526 review period is 15.7 months. (6 to 9 months)(Update: More RCs are reporting longer wait period compared to last year. In addition, the USCIS announced on Dec. 4, 2012 that they are moving the entire EB-5 team from California to Washington, D.C., which will most likely result in further delays.): the current USCIS processing time is 5 months. (Update: sometime during 2012, on an EB-5 stakeholder’s call, it was casually explained that these posted numbers are not only “targets” (which we already knew) but the time it takes for a petition to make it to the adjudicator’s desk.) But Regional Centers are reporting longer wait periods. Once the I-526 is approved, your funds are released from the Regional Center’s escrow account. (If Premium Processing is introduced, this stage will be reduced to 2 weeks. Which brings us to the second most asked question, “When will Premium Processing be introduced?“)(Update: As of December 2012, we now know that Premium Processing will NOT be happening and there are no plans in the future to introduce it.)

4. Consulate interview or Adjustment of Status Form I-485 filing (4 to 9 months): This timing depends on where you are and how backlogged the USCIS is – this is why you will see many different websites showing different numbers for this part.

After this stage you can enter the United States on your conditional greencard which is valid for two years.

5. Filing for Removal of Conditions Form I-829: this filing is done during the period between the 21st and 24th month after receiving your conditional greencard. This process takes approximately 6 to 9 months. (If the investor is already in the United States on a non-immigrant visa, the beginning date will be the date of your I-485 approval. If the investor processes overseas, the date will be the date you enter the United States as a conditional resident based on the I-551 stamp.)

6. Five years after receiving your conditional greencard you can apply for U.S. citizenship.

** Please note that if your home country has currency restrictions this can add more time to the timeline. (This does not mean that a prospective investor should start wiring funds to save time prior to consulting with his or her attorney.)