Several decades ago, Congress created an immigration program to encourage foreign entrepreneurs and business owners to invest in U.S. commercial enterprises. The U.S. continues to value foreign investment, as seen by the fact that investor visas were some of the only categories that were not affected by travel bans and other recent immigration restrictions.
In many cases, foreign investment results in a green card (lawful permanent residence). Read on to learn about your investment visa options and how you might qualify.
The EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, which means you will become a lawful permanent resident once you enter the United States. (Keep in mind that a visa is NOT a guarantee of entry. You will still need to pass through inspections at a U.S. port of entry. The CBP officer will make the final decision regarding whether to let you into the country.)
This immigrant visa is the fifth category of employment-based immigration. However, the EB-5 visa does not require Labor Certification or employer sponsorship.
That said, the requirements are steep. You will need to:
- Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. employees; and
- Invest at least $1,800,000 into a qualifying U.S. commercial enterprise (or $900,000 if the enterprise is in a targeted employment area).
Targeted employment areas are designated by local and state governments. However, according to the recent updates to the EB-5 program, USCIS will now be assessing these designations on a case-by-case basis.
Learn more about the requirements for the EB-5 visa here.
Removing Conditions on Permanent Residence
The EB-5 visa is one of the two immigrant categories (the other being the K-1 fiancé(e) visa) that results in a conditional green card.
A conditional green card is only valid for two years, rather than ten. At the end of these two years, you must apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence. When you submit this application, USCIS will evaluate your circumstances and determine whether you have continued to meet the qualifications for investment-based permanent residence. If so, you will receive your regular green card.
From E-2 Visa to Green Card
The E-2 visa is the other investment-based visa, and its investment requirements are generally much lower than the EB-5 visa. However, the E-2 only grants nonimmigrant (temporary) status. While this status may be renewed an unlimited number of times, it does not automatically result in permanent residence.
Fortunately, the E-2 visa is one of the few categories that allows the recipient to possess dual intent, meaning the intention to visit temporarily AND eventually become a lawful permanent resident. In other words, the recipient agrees to leave if their authorized period of stay comes to an end, but they intend to apply for a green card while living in the United States.
Most E-2 visa holders pursue a green card by applying for an EB-5 visa (as explained above). Because you are already living in the U.S., you will not need to leave the country and apply through consular processing. When you apply for a green card from within the U.S., the process is called adjustment of status.
Keep in mind that transitioning from E-2 status to permanent residence may result in increased tax obligations.
Discuss Your Options with Our Law Firm
Foreign investors enjoy a greater level of flexibility than many of the other visa categories. However, fulfilling (and demonstrating your fulfillment of) all requirements can be a serious challenge without professional support. At Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A., our attorneys bring more than 50 years of experience to your case, accompanied by a personal and professional commitment to helping you succeed.