If you are thinking of visiting the United States for the purpose of investing in a business there, you first need to consider the US Visa requirements. With dozens of available visa types, determining which best suits your situation can be difficult.
The first question to ask yourself is whether you are seeking an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. An immigrant visa is one that eventually results in the applicant immigrating to the US and obtaining a green card. The E2 visa is the primary immigrant visa for investors. Non-immigrant visas, on the other hand, are for temporary travel and are not intended to result in a change in immigration status. The EB-5 visa is the non-immigrant investor visa.
If you are unsure of your eligibility for a visa, schedule a professional consultation with a Philadelphia immigration lawyer.
There are four categories of immigrant investor visas:
- Employment creation outside of a targeted area;
- Employment creation in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area;
- Investor Pilot Program not in a targeted rea; and
- Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area.
Temporary E2 Visas
An E2 Visa has the following requirements:
- Applicant must be a national of a country with an E2 treaty with the US;
- Applicant must invest a substantial amount in a bona fide enterprise in the US;
- Applicant must be entering the US for the sole purpose of developing and directing the enterprise.
These E2 Visas are issued for specified periods of time, and are renewable indefinitely so long as the visa-holder continues to meet eligibility requirements including an intent to leave the US upon expiration. E2 Visas also allow for the applicant’s spouse and children under the age of 21 to travel to the US.
The minimum investment amount for E2 Visas is not set by dollar amount. Instead, the applicant is required to invest a “substantial” amount in a US enterprise to qualify. To determine substantiality, the US uses a proportionality test that compares the amount invested to the total value of the business. The larger percentage invested, the more likely it is found to be substantial.
Permanent EB-5 Visas
The Employment Fifth Preference (E5) visa process allows certain investors to travel to the US and eventually apply for permanent residency. These green card benefits are available to the investor’s spouse and children.
The minimum investment requirements for immigrant investor petitions filed on or after November 21, 2019 are as follows:
- $1,000,000; or
- $500,000 in a targeted employment area.
The investment capital must come completely from the investor, none may be borrowed. Further, within two years, the investment must create full-time employment for at least 10 people in the US, excluding the investor and his family.
There are two primary types of EB-5 investments: center investments and direct investments. Both are explored below.
EB-5 Center Investment
This type of EB-5 requires investment in a Regional Center Program. This program allows applicants to invest in a US government approved regional center enterprise. These large pools of funds from a larger group of investors are used for a single, large-scale project such as a hotel development or condominium complex.
Statutory authorization for the Regional Center Program expired in 2021 and as of the time of this writing, it has not been extended. To discuss the current status of the Regional Center Program, contact a Philadelphia immigration lawyer today.
EB-5 Direct Investment
A direct investment is precisely what it sounds like, a direct investment of capital into a job-creating enterprise. The applicant can be the sole investor or invest with a group. Further, the investment entity can take any number of corporate forms including: sole proprietorship, joint venture, partnership, and limited liability company. Further, the entity can be a new business or an existing business.
There are many benefits to a direct investment including:
- High rates of return compared to regional centers;
- Greater control of the business;
- More operational authority day-to-day;
- Lower investment costs;
Of course the risks and benefits of any business investment should be seriously considered and weighed before any decisions are made. To discuss your situation and the investor visas available to you, talk to an experienced immigration attorney today.
As an international investor, you may be able to take full advantage of the above-mentioned visa programs. But first you need legal assistance from an experienced immigration firm.
Don’t hesitate, book a free case evaluation session and know complete details.