For any foreign national wishing to move to and live permanently in the USA the hurdles to overcome can be many and difficult. The United States is a desirable country to live in, and because of this, the immigration criteria do not allow anyone to simply show up at its border and claim residence. In addition, the process of obtaining a green card for permanent residency can be a lengthy one, often taking a number of years to complete, with no guarantee of a positive outcome for the applicant at the end.
However, there is one category of people who are definitely not discouraged from applying for residence and these are persons who have a sufficient amount of money to invest in the United States. If you have the funds available then the investment required is not in stocks and shares on Wall Street, but rather it is to create a new business or help an existing business which is experiencing difficulties with the primary objective being to create new employment.
The scheme comes under the umbrella of the EB-5 visa program and if granted the holder will have a green card residency entitlement for two years. Based on the success or otherwise of the investment and whether or not certain criteria have been met a decision will then be made as to whether the residency is extended or revoked.
The most widely known option is for the applicant to invest an amount of five hundred thousand dollars. To qualify under the EB-5 scheme the investment must be made in an area known as a ‘Targeted Employment Area’ or TEA for short. These are areas where there are particularly high rates of unemployment which is why they would be especially targeted by the US government for investment. The other areas that the investment would qualify is in rural schemes which support locations away from major population centers and specifically excludes cities and towns that have a population of 20,000 residents or more.
Should you wish to invest in an area not covered by the TEA regional criteria, the amount you need to invest is normally one million dollars. This may be suitable for investors who wish to invest in their existing business which may be in a location not covered by the TEA terms.
There is a further requirement for regional centers that the investment generates or creates a minimum of 10 full-time jobs of thirty-five hours per week or more and these jobs must exist throughout the entirety of the visa period in question. The jobs created do not necessarily have to be those employed directly by the business created, but can be jobs created indirectly such as sub-contractors or support services.
One important point that must be noted is that the investor, their spouse, and any children, even if they are employed by the business, will not count towards the qualifying total of ten. However, if the investor has other family members already living in the USA, their jobs can count towards the required number of employees if they are employed by the business.
In terms of the money invested the US authorities will carry out enquiries to determine its source and legality. Applicants must provide evidence of how the money was obtained such as asset or property sales, income from other investments, an inheritance or from their salary. Tax records or an accountants’ certification of how the funds were obtained can also be used as evidence of their legitimacy. Please note that any suspicion that the sources of the monies for the investment are not lawful or if they cannot be verified as legitimate will mean the application will be rejected.
If the investment is not in a TEA, a further qualifying requirement is that the person investing money in the business must play an active role in the running of the business. This does not have to be on a day to day basis but they must at least have an input in terms of policy making or some other management role. Notwithstanding this, there are no actual minimum levels of business skills, experience or previous success required to be considered for the EB-5 scheme.
So assuming the money invested is from a legitimate source and a viable business employing ten people is created in a TEA, what are the advantages of the EB_5 visa over other green card routes? The first is that other than these investment requirements there are no other barriers to being able to qualify for the scheme such as your educational qualifications, upper age limits, work experience or even the ability to speak fluent English. None of these are considered as part of the EB-5 application.
As an investor with the EB-5 visa, your spouse and any children you have aged under 21 are also entitled to live with you in the United States. Those children will have access to US schools, colleges or universities which can obviously lead to improved employment prospects for them when the time comes. Under the scheme, you and your family are at liberty to travel back and forth from the United States to your home country as often as you wish.
It must be remembered that the EB-5 visa is granted on a conditional, not a permanent basis. This means that anyone who fails to maintain or follow the required criteria can have their entitlement to US residency revoked. Alternatively, if the investor can show that they have fulfilled all the requirements then they can apply via a i-829 petition after two years to have the conditional status removed and a permanent residency granted. It is also possible to apply for US citizenship after five years of residence.
If you wish to live in the United States and are fortunate enough to have the required amount of money to invest in a new business, then the EB-5 visa scheme is definitely the program to consider. Other visa types will require certain language skills, sponsorship, family members already living in the US, age restrictions and more than enough other hoops to jump through to make it seem impossible.
The EB-5 visa scheme does have criteria to be met but none are so difficult to achieve if you have the available funds and genuinely wish to create a new life for you and your family in the United States.