Navigating EB-5 Investment visa program in compliance with U.S sanctions regulations - Part 1


Key Insights for Iranian Applicants: What to Know When Transferring the Investment Funds from Iran to the U.S.

Under the EB-5 program, alien investors are eligible to apply for lawful, permanent residence (become green card holders), if they make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise within the U.S. that results in job creation for qualified U.S. workers.

When applying for an EB-5 visa, an applicant must invest a specific amount of money in a commercial enterprise within the U.S. For applicants who reside in Iran, sending funds under the EB-5 category is generally licensed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC); however, Iranian applicants are still obligated to comply with U.S. sanctions regulations during the money transmittal process itself.

Due to the fact that there is no banking relationship between Iran and the U.S., there is no way to send money directly from an Iranian bank to a U.S. bank; therefore, the only way that an applicant from Iran can send the necessary funds to the U.S. is through a currency exchange broker. Please be advised that using the services of a licensed currency exchange broker to transfer investment funds in connection with an EB-5 visa petition falls within the scope of general licenses issued by OFAC; therefore, it is completely legal and does not require specific authorization. When transferring the investment funds, an applicant residing in Iran must transfer their funds to a licensed currency exchange broker in a third country, then that broker will transfer the funds on the applicant’s behalf to a U.S. bank. U.S. depository institutions are authorized to process transfers of funds from Iran if the transfer arises from, and is ordinarily incident and necessary to give effect to, an underlying transaction that has been authorized by a specific or general license. Transferring funds from Iran through a currency exchange broker under an EB-5 visa petition is completely authorized according to U.S. sanctions regulations.

As such, if an applicant residing in Iran abides by U.S. sanctions regulations and transfers their investment funds through legal channels, their EB-5 application will be considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If, for any reason, the applicant chooses to withdraw their application, or if their application is denied, they are entitled to get their money back. This refunding process will be discussed in Part II of this article.

Please do not hesitate to contact our firm for further guidance.

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