The EB-5 is a United States visa program designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and jobs through foreign investment. Through the program, eligible foreign investors can become lawful permanent residents of the United States, which paves the way for U.S. citizenship. USCIS, which administers the EB-5, carefully scrutinizes all supporting documentation submitted by applicants.
Does the EB-5 Visa Process Require Certified Translation?
In short, the answer is a resounding Yes.
To ensure a successful EB-5 outcome, it is vital to provide full and accurate translations of all foreign language documentation in support of the visa application. A translation service with immigration case experience will even be able to assist attorneys on questions of foreign law and the procurement of foreign counsel, as may be necessary.
For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to start looking for an EB-5 translation company as early in the application process as possible. Translators may be needed from the outset, to assist with communication between the foreign investor and their immigration attorney and/or the regional center. However, certified translation services are usually not required until the I-526 petition preparation stage, once the investor has already selected an EB-5 business project and deposited the project investment amount into escrow.
The I-526 is a burdensome petition which requires the assistance of both qualified immigration counsel and certified translators. USCIS carefully reviews I-526 petitions to identify the source(s) of all capital invested and to ensure that all such capital has been derived by lawful means. As of June 2020, the processing time for an I-526 application is 29.5 to 61 months.
Documents Supporting an I-526 Petition
The 3 main categories of information submitted with an I-526 Application include Project Documentation, Personal Documentation, and Financial Documentation. Project Documentation in connection with the EB-5 process typically does not require the use of a certified translation service. Most such documents will already be in English, and will include transactional and organizational documents such as operating agreements, escrow agreements, and loan agreements.
On the other hand, foreign investors’ self-provided Personal and Financial Documentation typically does require the use of a legal translation service. As far as the Personal Documentation category, we are often asked to review and translate documents such as:
- national identification documents;
- résumés, diplomas, and business registrations;
- birth and marriage certificates; police certificates;
- records of foreign judgments or civil actions against the petitioner.
Financial Documentation is typically even more translation-heavy, as applicants must produce among the following types of documents:
- bank statements;
- business/real estate ownership documents;
- tax returns;
- any other evidence that the investment funds were lawfully obtained, including stock certificates, gift statements, etc.
Certified Translations for EB-5 Applications
All foreign-language documents submitted to USCIS must be accompanied by a full English language translation with a certification of translation accuracy. A certification should, at minimum, include language that the translator used is competent to translate from the foreign language into English and that the translation provided is accurate. As this is a rather lax standard, we advise immigration counsel, EB-5 regional centers, and all other program stakeholders to conduct due diligence in hiring the right translation provider.
When looking for a legal translation service to assist with an EB-5 application, we advise asking 2 key questions:
- Are the translators to be employed certified by the American Translators Association (ATA) or similar body?
- Do these translators also have at least 5 years’ experience in translating documentation for USCIS purposes?
If the answer to either question is “no,” we advise moving on. The stakes are too high: inadequate or uncertified translations may lead to disqualification from the EB-5 program, or cause requests for evidence, resulting in unnecessary delay in the adjudication process. In sum, translation accuracy is vital to a successful EB-5 investment visa process.
Are you representing an EB-5 investor or sponsoring an EB-5 project? Please email us to discuss the translation needs of your particular case.