Immigrating to the USA is a dream for many people around the world. The stable legal system, the strong economy, and high quality of lifestyle are what attract many people to the USA. After all, the USA is known as the land of opportunity.
Investors and regular folks who want to take advantage of opportunities that the USA offer can immigrate through work or through investment. Depending on your background and qualifications, you can look at various EB visas and immigration programs of the USA.
There are 5 main ways in which one can immigrate to the US through investment, work, or talent. These are EB5 visa (two types), E2 visa, EB-1 visa, and inter-corporate transfer.
People who are wealthy or who have the means to make a significant investment in the USA can get a green card via the EB-5 investor visa. This visa allows an investor (and his/her family) to live, study, work, and even retire in the US.
The money that is invested is also returned back to the investor after a specific number of years.
EB-5 Regional Center – There are two types of EB-5 visas. The first one is known as the EB-5 Regional Center Investment. With this option, an investor needs to invest a minimum of US $500,000 in a US government-approved project. The money actually needs to be invested in a regional center. The center will then invest the money in a government-approved project. This investment needs to be made for 5 years.
About 18 months after you make the investment, the US government gives you a conditional green card which is good enough to enter the US. You and your family can live, work, and study anywhere in the US. There is no age limit, educational qualification, or English language requirement for the EB-5 visa.
You have to understand that the EB-5 Regional Center Investment option involves making a passive investment. By passive, we mean that your money finds its way to someone else’s project and not your own.
The project could be a real estate development, a hotel venture, or anything that the US government deems to be fit for the purpose of the EB-5 visa. The project where your money gets invested has to compulsorily employ 10 or more local US workers for at least 2 years.
Such projects are a commercial venture at the end of the day and hence come with the relevant risks that are involved in any business venture. What is also interesting is that after 5 years since you make the investment, your $500,000 (or whatever amount you invest) is returned back to you.
EB-5 Direct Investment – If you want to immigrate to the US on an investor visa, but want full control over your investment amount, then the EB-5 Direct Investment option is the way to go. One has to invest a minimum of US $1 million (and not $500,000) in a business. The investor’s business also has to employ at least 10 local US workers for at least 2 years.
After you make the investment, you (and your family) can get a conditional green card in around 18 months post the investment date. This conditional green card will allow you and your family to enter in the US.
Your family can then live, study, and work in the US while the business that you started runs. One can shorten the 18 month period of getting the green card to enter the US by combining the EB-5 Direct Investment visa with an E-2 visa. With an E-2 visa, your own company can hire you. But E-2 visa works only with countries that have an investment treaty with the US.
After 2 years, once you can show that you have complied with the 2-year period as explained above and you can also demonstrate that the US $1million is still invested in the business that you started, you can qualify for a permanent green card.
The US $1million requirement can be brought down to US $500,000 provided that you start your business in a high-unemployment part of the US. Such investments can be done in case of motels, restaurants, or hotel chains.
E-2 Work Visa – E-2 work visa is perhaps the fastest way to enter the US as an employment based immigrant. An E-2 visa allows you and your spouse to work anywhere in the US. You can work for a local company (if you have a job offer from the American office) or you can form your own company and indirectly work for yourself. The one condition with the E-2 visa is that it is only issued to citizens of countries who have an investment treaty with the US. E-2 visas are valid for 5 years but they can be renewed indefinitely.
In order to use the E-2 visa to work for your own company, you have to first make an investment to start a company. The investment minimums range from US $75,000 and go up to $200,000 depending upon the industry and sector in which the business is being launched.
Once an investor has started the EB-5 Direct Investment process, he/she can apply for an E-2 visa and immediately enter the US rather than wait for 18 months to get a conditional green card. Hence, the combination of E-2 and EB-5 saves a lot of time for the investor and his/her family.
Some other aspects of migrating to the US as an investor
With EB-5 visas, getting citizenship of the US becomes relatively simple. Once you receive your permanent green card after running a business (or investing in a government-approved project) for 5 years, you can then stay in the US for 5 years as a permanent resident. Once you have completed those 5 years, you can then apply for US citizenship. This process is known as Naturalization.
The green cards awarded through the EB-5 investor visas are limited to 10,000 per year. Out of these 10,000 green cards, half or 5,000 are reserved for participants of the EB-5 Regional Center program.
Politically, the EB-5 visa has not been tinkered with much over the last few years. It has been renewed multiple times by the US Congress. There have been proposals to raise the minimum investment limits on the EB-5 visas to US $800,000 (and US $1.3 million for the direct route). However, none of those limit increases have actually materialized and the limit continues to remain at US $500,000 (and US $1 million for the direct route).
If you are serious about investing in the US through any of the investor programs as mentioned above, then it is best to work with an experienced professional. Legal representation is important as a knowledgeable person will know the nuances and the nitty-gritty of the entire process.
After all, you are dealing with the US government and you would want to make sure that all of your paperwork is in order. Hence, we highly recommend that you reach out to a credible and knowledgeable legal professional to process your investor visa.
If you are not looking to migrate to the US or invest in that country right away, then it still helps to know all your options. The above information will provide you with a gist of the overall procedure.
It is also good to plan ahead and make an immigration backup plan in case you live in a volatile country or see the need to migrate at some time in the future at short notice.
You can go a step further in such a planning strategy by speaking with an experienced professional right now and keep all your paperwork ready. That way, you can move very swiftly when any event or situation in the future demands quick action.