One of the less common ways to obtain permanent residency in the United States is with a Foreign Investor Green Card. As the name suggests, it’s open to foreign nationals who invest capital in an American business, and doing so grants them the ability to live in the US.
Here is some important information about the Foreign Investor Green Card, including the investment amount and eligibility criteria.
What is a Foreign Investor Green Card?
Formally known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa, a Foreign Investor Green Card allows those who invest in an American business the ability to reside permanently in the country.
There are two ways to secure an investor visa:
- Invest enough capital in a business that it creates 10 new permanent roles for qualifying employees
- Invest capital of at least $900,000 in an American business with the intention of promoting growth
Providing either of these criteria is met, the investor and their spouse and children under 21 will obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States.
Within these two criteria, there are some specifics worth mentioning. For example, the job creation depends on where the business is located and its age. Businesses in regional centers can create direct or indirect jobs, whereas companies outside of regional centers must create direct jobs.
Also, the financial investment amount is worth dissecting in more detail. First, capital refers to cash, equipment or other assets that add value to the business. For example, an investor could buy $1 million worth of equipment for a business rather than giving them the money directly.
The amount you must invest also varies by location and business type. Areas of targeted employment require the least – $900,000. These are areas with historically high unemployment or rural areas.
Urban areas or those with low unemployment (implying they already have significant investment) require at least $1.8 million of capital. While a lower-risk investment, it obviously requires double the amount.
Understanding the Types of Business Investor Visa USA
It’s also worth clarifying what businesses are eligible as part of the Foreign Investor Green Card program. Legal wording describes them as “commercial enterprises” and the most important fact is that they’re for-profit.
- Sole traders
- Holding companies
- Business trusts
- Joint ventures
- Other public or private entities
You might also see the term “new commercial enterprise”, meaning it’s a newly-structured business in which the investor has a managerial role. Simply buying an existing business isn’t enough for a Foreign Investor Green Card.
The same rules apply for job creation (it must also be in a new commercial enterprise) but don’t apply to investments in failing businesses. These don’t need to be new, as they need proof of two years’ worth of profit losses.
Foreign Investor Green Card Eligibility
As you can imagine, there are quite a few conditions for investing large sums of money in the American economy. First, you must offer information about your chosen business, including when it was established, its current financial information, and what you believe your money will do.
You can also choose to purchase an existing business that is financially stressed and has lost more than 20% of its value within the last two years. This investment situation usually comes under more scrutiny from USCIS than others.
In terms of personal eligibility, the criteria are the same as other Green Card applications. However, for a Foreign Investor Green Card, you don’t need a sponsor as you do for family or employment applications.
Green Card EB-5 Documentation
In order to qualify for green card EB-5 status, you must complete and file Form I-526 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is also known as an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur and requires proof through documentation that you meet the requirements for investment in a US commercial enterprise.
A big part of the documentation is proof of funds. As you can imagine, this kind of visa is open to fraud, so USCIS asks for plenty of proof that your money is legally obtained. This is particularly important for direct financial investments rather than buying a business or creating jobs.
Supporting documentation might include business registration records, tax returns, sources of capital, and more. This is to reduce the instances of money laundering, and USCIS is acutely aware of questionable sources.
Other than financial information, all other supporting documents remain the same. For example, you must provide copies of passports for you and your dependents.
Most foreign investors applying for the EB-5 foreign investor visa seek help from a professional immigration lawyer in the United States. However, you could do it by yourself by using the EB-5 step-by-step guide provided by US Green Card Advice. Getting professional help will for sure shorten your EB5 Green Card processing time
Once your Foreign Investor Green Card is approved, you may apply for conditional residency, which is a permanent resident status if you currently reside in the US.
In the event you still reside outside the US, it will be necessary for you to obtain an immigrant visa through the Consulate in your home country. Once you and your family members achieve conditional residency you are subject to certain conditions for two years before you can apply to remove the conditions.
This process is slightly different from other types of Green Card, which typically don’t have conditional periods attached to them. It’s different because a Foreign Investor Green Card is directly tied to business growth. As such, USCIS must track whether your investment is actually making a difference to a business.
Again, this is largely related to money laundering practices. For example, you could invest money in a business and after two years claim it’s gone bust and remain in the US. This could be considered money laundering, and USCIS may revoke a Green Card in this situation.
However, if all goes well during those two years, the conditional residence restrictions will be removed. After this, you can offer employment without authorization and will be free to grow your business however you wish. Also, you can start sponsoring other family members for Green Cards.
Then, after a total of five years of residency (so another three years), you can apply for naturalization and full US citizenship. By this point, your application is no longer as closely tied to your original investment.
Foreign Investor Green Card for Legal Residency
Can you buy a Green Card legally? The Foreign Investor Green Card is a promising route into the United States if you have enough money. However, it’s a pretty big amount, which limits the number of people who can use it.
Instead, why not try applying for the Green Card Lottery? Unlike other Green Card categories, you don’t need a job offer or family ties, and you certainly don’t need a spare $1.8 million to invest in an American business!
Check whether you’re from a qualifying country and begin your application today through US Green Card Office. We ensure your application is correct and will be accepted, giving you the best chance of winning. So, apply online for the Green Card lottery as a way to enter the USA.