Since the implementation of the Investors Visa Program, it has been evident that the United States encourages the flow of major investments into its country to help stimulate the economy through job creation. In exchange for the investments made, the United States offers its foreign investors a variety of non-immigrant and immigrant visa (to get green card) options, among which include the EB-5, EB-1C, the L-1, the E-2, and the B-1 visas.

Get a Green Card through EB-5 Visa

An EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa option for foreign investors who wish not only to invest in a United States company but also to get a green card, which grants permanent residency in the United States. To qualify for an EB-5 visa, the foreign investor must meet certain requirements set forth by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

First, to qualify for an EB-5 visa and get a green card, the foreign investor must establish that he or she will be investing in a new enterprise for $500,000 if investing in a Targeted Employment Area (“TEA”), or $1,000,000 if investing in a metropolitan and Non-Targeted Employment Area (“Non-TEA”). Although the monetary investment requirement seems substantial to the common eye, such investments prove fruitful as far as the foreign investor’s family is involved. Not only will such an investment allow them to gain profit and permanently reside in the United States (get a green card), but it will also allow their children to obtain better, while also inexpensive, education.

An EB-5 in the United States is also more affordable when compared to other affluent countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada to name a few, that offer similar incentives to foreign investors. Other affluent countries offer employment-based immigrant visas with investment requirements that range from $750,000 to over $4.5 million. Even the minimum investment requirements from other countries are 44% more expensive than what the United States requires.

Reformation of the EB-5

Although the United States indeed offers the most practical, affordable, and—as some may say—lucrative business investment options to foreign investors, this most inviting visa option will soon change. In September 2015, the United States government will begin to implement bipartisan legislation that was proposed by both the Republican and the Democratic parties agreeing to reauthorize and reform the EB-5 program. With these new reformations come various changes significantly affecting the EB-5 community, which include changes:

  • In job creation where only 90% of the 10 jobs that each investor must create may come from indirect job creation;
  • In certification compliance with all laws including an increase in annual reporting requirements, securities laws, maintenance records, etc.; and, the most notable of them all,
  • In the minimum investment amount requirements.

Starting in September 2015, the minimum investment required from foreign nationals to qualify for an EB-5 is $800,000 for TEA investments as compared to the $500,000 minimum currently required. As for non-TEA, the minimum investment requirement would be $1.05 million.

These legislative reformations take quite a significant turn from what the U.S. government currently has in place. Surely, if a foreign investor were interested in ever investing in the U.S. under an EB-5, now until September 2015 would be the best time to do so as that foreign investor would be grandfathered in for the lesser minimum investment requirements ($1,000,000 or $500,000).

While the United States, as of right now, offers a less expensive alternative as compared to other countries’ investors’ incentives, the United States’ minimum requirement may still be unaffordable to some; especially after the 2015 bipartisan legislation is put into effect. In cases where the United States investment minimum is unaffordable, the United States offers other visa options.

EB-1C or EB-1-3 Visa

The United States issues over 100 different types of visas, but one of the most desirable is the Multinational Manager or Executive immigrant visa, also known as the EB-1C or EB-1-3. These visas are reserved for mid to high-level employees of multinational businesses who are being asked by their employers to move to the United States. To qualify for a Multinational Manager or Executive Visa, an applicant must meet certain requirements – a three-year work period with the multinational company and a specialized background.

The Multinational Manager or Executive Visa filing process is relatively straightforward. However, it could be confusing to someone unfamiliar with immigration laws. An experienced immigration attorney can help the applicant put together a complete application so that he or she has the best chance of being granted the EB-1C or EB-1-3 visa.

L-1 Visa

An L-1 visis a type of non-immigrant visa, that allows companies to not only conduct intracompany transfers of its employees from its foreign office to its United States office but—in cases where the foreign company does not have a United States-based office—also allows them to send executives or managers for setting up a new one.

To qualify for this, the foreign investor must show that he or she has secured the necessary location to house its new office and that the employee being sent under an L-1 status is someone who has held an executive or managerial position continuously for one year within the three years preceding the filing of an L-1 application. In addition, the foreign investor investing in a new office in the United States must show that the new office will support an executive or managerial position within one year after the L-1 petition has been approved.

Notice that for an L-1 visa classification approval, the foreign investor need not meet any monetary investment requirements. However, although there is no specific monetary value required for an L-1 visa, an L-1 visa, unlike an EB-5, does not grant its holder permanent residency (the applicant does not get a green card).

E-2 Visa

An E-2 visa is yet another non-immigrant visa that is designed for foreign investors who wish to develop a bona fide enterprise in the U.S. but lack the necessary investment funds to qualify for an EB-5. An E-2 visa, however, is not designed for just any foreign investors. E-2 visas are designed specifically for nationals of what is known as the Treaty Countries, which are countries that hold a commerce and navigation treaty with the United States.

To qualify for an E-2 visa, one of the requirements is that the foreign investor must put in a substantial investment into the company. Although it is not specifically defined in monetary value, the investment that the foreign investor must place into the company must be substantial enough so that it puts him or her commercially at risk with the objective that he or she generates profit that is more than marginal. Another requirement is that the investment value must be committed and remain irrevocable.

Although an E-2 visa is unlike an EB-5 visa in the sense that there is no specific investment value required for an E-2, the E-2 investor is still required to invest a substantial amount into the business, so that it remains operative and generates more than marginal costs.

B-1 Visa

The B-1 visa, also known as the Business Visa, is designed for foreign nationals who wish to conduct business in the United States for a fixed amount of time. Unlike the E-2 visa, a foreign national need not be a national of a Treaty Country. In addition, unlike an EB-5 visa, a B-1 visa applicant need not establish that he or she meets the investment minimum to conduct business in the United States. Any individual who wishes to conduct business in the United States—whether it is to settle an estate or simply to negotiate a contract—may do so under the B-1 visa classification. Although there are no limitations as to who may apply for a B-1 visa, the B-1 applicant must be able to establish that he or she is traveling to the United States for a legitimate business purpose and that he or she has the necessary funds to cover his or her expenses for the trip and duration of his or her stay in the United States.

In sum, many different visa options are available to foreign nationals who wish to travel to the United States to conduct business, place an investment, or get a green card through investment. Although the United States has implemented a variety of visa options for foreign investors, there are specific requirements for each of the classifications that must be met to qualify. But, no matter what the foreign investor’s situation is—whether or not he or she meets the investment value requirement or whether or not he or she desires to get a green card and permanently reside in the United States—there is surely an option that would be available to him or her.

Decision on what investors’ visa options fit a particular investor requires a careful review of the various options in line with the investor’s immigration goals and financial resources. It is best to consult with a qualified immigration law attorney if you are seeking to enter the United States under any of the above visa categories. Contact our office to discuss this matter today at +1-813-298-7222 during office hours or schedule an appointment to complete a secured online visa evaluation.