If you are a citizen of another country starting a business in the United States is a large undertaking. To greatly increase the success of your endeavor, it is important to contact an attorney with a solid understanding of immigration and naturalization law.
Permanent Residency for Investors (EB-5)
The EB-5 employment creation immigrant visa for conditional lawful permanent resident status in the United States is based upon a qualifying investment in a business in the United States. EB-5 visas allow foreign entrepreneurs and their dependents to live in the United States in order to manage large-scale investments. To qualify for an EB-5 visa, the entrepreneur must invest $500,000 in a designated regional center or $1 million anywhere in the United States. Regardless of the size of the investment, it must create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.
The petition must demonstrate that:
1. A new commercial enterprise has been established,
2. The proper amount of capital has been placed at risk,
3. The capital invested was lawfully gained,
4. The investment has created at least ten full-time jobs or reorganized by the investor,
5. The investor intends to stay in the United States, and
6. the investor will be engaged in the management of the enterprise.
The processing time may vary, but usually once the application and required evidence is filed, is approximately four months for adjudication of the petition by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Thereafter, the second phase, an application to be processed through the United States Consulate in the alien’s jurisdiction, usually takes an additional six months; or, if the alien is in the United States at that time (for example with a “B” visitor’s visa) then the alien can process the second part of the case through an Adjustment of Status application filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The alien’s wife and children under age 21 may obtain derivative conditional lawful permanent resident status from the alien’s investment and application.
Investors Visa (E-2)
E-2 investor visas permit foreign nationals to enter the United States in order to develop a commercial enterprise or business in which they have invested a substantial amount of money or capital, whereby he or she will own at least fifty percent (50%) of an enterprise that is of benefit to persons other than the investor and his family. This is usually demonstrated by showing two or more full time employees; or, substantial payments to independent contractors on a regular and continuing basis for the investment to operate.
Investor wishing to obtain E-2 visas must be a citizen of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce.
The investment must be active; purchases of stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit or vacant land will not qualify. Development of land by subdividing and building on it will qualify, as will owning buildings that require management such as motels, apartment buildings or commercial buildings. There is, at this time, no minimum amount that must be invested to qualify. The investor must own at least 50% of the investment or enterprise, which can be a business the investor starts or an existing business in which he purchases at least a 50% interest. If a corporation or partnership owns the investment, the majority ownership must be in hands oftreaty nationals.
*The E-2 investor visa is typically initially valid for two to five years and may be extended indefinitely.
The investor visa or residency for an investor processes are particularly complex. The law requires the investor to meet specific requirements and to petition several government agencies. Given this complexity, the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is highly recommended to ensure all requirements have been met, evidence has been presented effectively, and to avoid errors or omissions in the process that may cause delays or even denial of the petition.