How to Get a Green Card as an Investor
There are five (5) paths that immigrants can take to obtain permanent residency in the United States. Permanent residents have "Green Cards," allowing them to live, work and/or study in the U.S. permanently and can receive most benefits that U.S. citizens have access to. Permanent residents, or Green Card holders, can eventually become U.S. citizens if they meet all of the required criteria. One of the ways that one can obtain a Green Card is through the EB5 visa category which is reserved for investors in the United States.
There are approximately 140,000 immigrant visas available each fiscal year for foreign nationals (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate to the United States based on their job skills. If one possesses the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, then they can apply for one of these visas.The employment-based (EB) category has five (5) subcategories, called "preferences." These preferences are:
- EB-1, Priority Workers (including people of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers and professors, and multinational executives and managers);
- EB-2, Individuals Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability;
- EB-3, Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other workers;
- EB-4, Special Immigrants;
- EB-5, Employment Creation: Reserved for Investors.
The EB5 visa preference category, created by Congress in 1990, is available to immigrants seeking to enter the United States in order to invest in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the US economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. There are three ways a potential foreign investor can do this: create a new commercial enterprise, invest in a troubled business, or invest in a regional pilot program.
Eligibility Criteria to Qualify for a Green Card as an Investor (EB5 Visa) :
Investor in the Creation of a New Commercial Enterprise
To qualify one must:
- Be an investor of or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000. If your investment is in a designated Targeted Employment Area then the minimum investment requirement is $500,000. A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as "a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average."
- Benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets.
- Create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These jobs must be for U.S. citizens, Green Card holders and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the United States. These jobs cannot include the applicant, or their spouse, sons or daughters.
- Be an investor who will be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through the development business policy as, for example, a corporate officer or a board member.
Investor in a Troubled Business
To qualify one must:
- Be an investor in a business that has existed for at least two years.
- Be an investor in a business that has been operating at a net loss for the 12 to 24 month period before you filed the Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur.
- The loss for the 12 to 24 month period must be at least equal to 20 percent of the business´s net worth before the loss.
- Maintain the number of jobs at levels similar to the number before your investment for at least two years.
- Be an investor who will be involved in the day-to-day management of the troubled business or directly manage it through the development business policy as, for example, a corporate officer or a board member.
- The same monetary investment requirements for the creation of a new commercial enterprise investment apply to a troubled business investment ($1,000,000 or $500,000 in a targeted employment area).
Investor in a Regional Center Pilot Program
To qualify one must:
- Be an investor of at least $1,000,000 or $500,000 in a regional center affiliated new commercial enterprise or a troubled business located within the area of the USCIS designated Regional Center. A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private,which is involved with the promotion of economic growth,improved regional productivity,job creation,and increased domestic capital investment.
- Create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers through your capital investment. These jobs must be for U.S. citizens, Green Card and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the United States. These jobs cannot include the applicant,or their spouse, sons or daughters.
Application Process for Obtaining a Green Card as an Investor (EB5 Visa)
Acquiring a Green Card through the EB5 visa category is a three step self-petitioning process. First the foreign investor must obtain approval of his or her Form I-526 Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur. Second, he or she must either file Form I-485 to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the United States. The EB5 visa applicant (and he or her derivative family members) are granted conditional permanent resident Green Cards for a two year period upon the approval of the I-485 application or upon entry into the United States with an EB5 visa. Third, Form I-829, Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, must be filed 90 days before the EB5 visa applicant´s conditional Green Card expires. If this petition is approved by CIS then the EB5 visa applicant will be issued a new Green Card without conditions attached, and will be allowed to permanently live, work and/or study in the United States.