Though the American Dream has somewhat lost its luster, the number of people wishing to move to the United States is not decreasing, and the green card continues to be a cherished dream for many.
The Trump administration is serious about reducing legal immigration in the coming years. It is also planned to stop Green Card lottery. At the same time, the government is still very supportive of those who invest in the US economy. Therefore, wealthy people wishing to grow their business in the United States will find the option of obtaining investor visa more attractive. The benefits of this option include the applicant’s ability to bring his/her spouse and children to the United States as well.
These three visa programs are most popular among the investors: EB-5, L1 and E-2. In this article we will highlight the conditions, advantages and disadvantages of each of the program.
The EB-5 visa as a direct way to get a green card
The EB-5 Visa Program was launched in 1990 when the Congress of the United States set an objective of stimulating the US economy, attracting private foreign capital, creating additional jobs. The government only opens about 10,000 EB-5 spots for applicants per year, while the actual number of applications is usually much higher.
Requirements to obtain the EB-5 visa
To qualify for the EB-5 visa an applicant is required to invest $1million or $500,000 (depending on the region) in the development of a US company. The lower cost is available to those investors who decided to invest in companies located in high unemployment regions or in rural areas called Targeted Employment Areas.
The program provides the following options of participation:
– Creation of a new commercial enterprise.
– Investment in so-called regional centers in Targeted Employment Areas to attract investment in various projects.
– Expansion of the existing business by at least 140% with respective increase in the level of employment.
Supporting the existing businesses in crisis (which have lost 20% of capital over the past few years).
At the same time the investment schemes that guarantee the return of funds, such as lending to the existing businesses, are not allowed. Investments should be subject to risks.
Investments in regional centers are not so profitable, but in a way more reliable since these companies meet the conditions of the program without fail. An investor does not need to actively participate in asset management. Therefore, this option is often chosen by those who are interested primarily in moving to the United States.
Applicants are eligible to participate in the program if their capital exceeds $1 million or an annual income over the past two years is at least $200,000. There is an alternative requirement according to which the annual amount of joint income of the spouses should not be less than $300,000. According to the program conditions, the investor must create at least 10 full-time jobs for US citizens. At the same time, their salary should not be lower than the industry average. It is also important that the capital allocated for investment was fully legal; the income sources are subject to rigorous due diligence check. Supporting documents may include certificates on the sale of real estate or business, gift or inheritance certificates, data on profits from commercial activities.
For the first two years, the permanent residence is granted. This status is removed if the enterprise still meets program requirements, namely the required 10 jobs are maintained. The same status (first, conditional and then permanent) shall be granted to investor’s spouse and children younger than 21.
Advantages of EB-5 visa:
– Possibility to get a green card and the right of legal stay and free travel within in the USA.
– Together with the investor, a green card can also be granted to a spouse and children under 21 years of age. They are entitled to stay in the country, and have the right to employment and education.
– After two years you can be granted the permanent residence, and after another three years, you can apply for the US citizenship. This is relevant both for the investor himself and for his family members.
– Applicants from all countries are eligible, there are no requirements concerning work experience, education, age, knowledge of the English language or position in the company.
– There are no restrictions to the duration of the status.
– You can choose any industry and any region of the United States for investment.
The disadvantages of the EB-5 visa include:
– A fairly large amount of minimum investment.
- Low profitability of investments through the regional center. Although regional centers should be approved for participation in the program, this does not guarantee that the investment will bring income.
The need to prove the legality of the source of investment funds.
– Rather strict requirements to physical stay in the US: not less than 6 months a year. If you plan to travel frequently abroad, you should get a special Re-entry Permit.
– Relatively long processing time. Normally, it takes about a year to get a visa.
Important note: since 2016, the adjustment of the conditions for this type of visa has been discussed. It is proposed to increase the cost of participation in the program from $500,000 to $800,000 and from $1 million to $1.2 million, respectively. However, so far it has been decided to keep the terms of the program unchanged until December 2018.