Investment Based Immigration

If you have the ability to create employment opportunities in the United States with a certain investment of resources, then you have options to apply for investor visas that allow you to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. 

Requirements for the different types of visas vary, and they are subject to change at any time. To ensure that you are applying for the right type of visa and that you demonstrate your qualifications beyond a doubt, it is helpful to work with an experienced immigration attorney who understands the process. At Luis F. Hess, PLLC, our skilled legal team knows how to help you avoid common mistakes that lead to unnecessary delays or denials in the visa process.

Overview of Investor Visas

For most investors interested in acquiring a visa, the best options are the EB-5 Investor visa or the E-2 Treaty Investor visa. The EB-5 visa is a permanent immigrant visa that allows you to obtain a green card as a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Your spouse and unmarried children also become eligible for a green card. 

While the E-2 visa is only a temporary visa, it can be renewed indefinitely and offers many of the advantages of an EB-5 visa with a lower investment threshold. Investors with an E-2 visa may eventually be able to adjust their status to permanent resident. 

If you do not currently meet the qualifications for either of these visa types, a knowledgeable immigration lawyer could review your other options and guide you on the best path to immigration. For instance, if you have certain skills, you could apply for an EB-2 Employment visa with a National Interest Waiver so that you can bypass the Labor Certification and other requirements. 

Requirements for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa

In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, a commercial investor has to put at least $1,000,000 into a commercial enterprise in the U.S., although the required investment can be reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made in a “targeted employment area.” The required investment amount has changed at various times based on legislation, regulation, and court rulings, so it is important to check for the most recent updates. 

Along with that minimum investment, the applicant must create at least ten full-time new jobs. If you invest in a “troubled” business, your investment may only need to retain existing employees as long as you can show those jobs will last a minimum of two years.  A business is considered “troubled” if it has a net loss of 20% of net worth during a certain period of time. 

Any enterprise created after November 29, 1990, is eligible. Your enterprise will also qualify if it’s older than this but has recently gone through restructuring to create an entirely new enterprise or if your investment expands the enterprise by at least 40% in terms of net worth or staffing.

In order to qualify, your investment needs to be in the form of equipment, funding, or some other similar asset that meets the current legal requirements. If you have debt secured by collateral you own, this may also qualify. An immigration lawyer who understands the visa requirements can help you prepare plans that satisfy all requirements.

Exceptions to the Minimum Investment Requirement

In most cases, you must invest at least $1,000,000 in a commercial enterprise in order to qualify for the EB-5 investor visa. Some exceptions exist, however. The first exception is for investors who invest in economically-challenged areas.

For instance, an investor working in a rural location with a small, disadvantaged population could potentially invest $500,000 and still qualify. 

Another exception to this requirement is for investors who can demonstrate that the area they’re investing in has high unemployment. In order to qualify for this, the area needs to be at 150% of the unemployment average nationwide. In addition, you can only rely on government data sources to prove this claim.

Another exception to this rule is for those who choose to invest in regional centers. Regional centers are investment companies that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or another governmental entity has authorized for those seeking an EB-5 green card. The USCIS maintains a list of approved regional centers on its website.

Requirements for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Investors from a country with which the U.S. has a commerce treaty can apply for an E-2 treaty investor visa which allows them to stay in the U.S. for two years, although they can apply for a renewal. They must invest a “substantial” amount of money in a “bona fide” U.S. enterprise and enter the U.S. to direct the development of the enterprise. Essentially, investors demonstrate their involvement by owning at least 50% of the enterprise or holding a management position with the company. 

An investment is considered “substantial” if it:

  • Shows the investor’s financial commitment to the success of the enterprise
  • Supports the likelihood that the investor will succeed in developing the enterprise
  • Is substantial related to the cost of purchasing an established enterprise or creating a new one. 

Generally, the lower the cost of the business, the more you will need to invest for your investment to be treated as “substantial.”

Get Help from the Immigration Law Team at Luis F. Hess, PLLC., in Texas

When you’re looking for the right investment-based immigration solution, you need to feel confident that the firm you’ve picked has the skill and experience to lead you through the process. The attorneys at Luis F. Hess, PLLC., know how to guide their clients to successful resolutions. If you need an immigration law attorney, call Luis F. Hess, PLLC., in Texas, at (281) 984-5294 to get started today.