The United States is an offers a multitude of options to entrepreneurs, business people and their families who wish to move to the US by way of investment. The EB-5 visa opens the door to wealthy individuals who are interested in working and building a life in the US. Furthermore, the Immigrant Investor Program is the fastest way to obtain a green card for an investor, their spouse and children.
Who is eligible for an EB-5 visa?
The Immigrant Investor Program allows entrepreneurs (as well as their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) to apply for a green card (permanent residency) if they satisfy the following criteria:
- An EB-5 visa applicant will have to make an investment in the amount of $500,000 USD to $1,000,000 USD in a capital investment into a new, for-profit U.S. commercial enterprise (sole proprietorship, partnership, holding company, joint venture, corporation, business trust or other entity). This amount is valued based on a fair market value in USD.
This amount may be either in the form of cash, tangible property, inventory, equipment, secured indebtedness or any cash equivalent. The options are numerous.
The required amount of $1,000,000 USD can be reduced to $500,000 if the required investment is made into a new commercial entity that is located in a targeted employment area (usually an area of high unemployment rate or a rural area).
- You will need to demonstrate that you are able to offer and preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified US workers for a period of a minimum of 2 years. There are specific criteria for the different types of businesses such as for new commercial enterprises not located in a regional center and for those located within the regional center. The employees must be US citizens, lawful permanent residents or other immigrants authorized to work legally in the United States.
When can you expect to obtain a Green Card as an EB-5 Visa holder?
The application process to obtain a green card after entering the US on an EB-5 Visa can take about 18-24 months. Initially, the applicant will apply for approval of the I-526 petition, which can take approximately 6 months to receive. You will then obtain a conditional green card, meaning that it is temporary, and afterwards, you will be able to apply for removal of conditions and obtain a permanent green card.
Other business visas available to entrepreneurs
The B-1 and B-2 Visitor Visa
If you wish to enter the US temporarily for business, you may be eligible to apply for a B-1 Visa. In order to be eligible to apply for the B-1 Visa, you will need to demonstrate the following:
- That the reason of your travel to the US is a business-related purpose;
- That you have the necessary funds to cover the cost of your trip and all related expenses for the entire duration of the trip;
- That you do not have the intention to remain in the US permanently and plan to return to your home country after the trip. This can be demonstrated by showing assets that you have back home and other ties to your homeland;
- You are admissible to enter the US
How long can a B-1 Visa be granted for and can it be renewed?
The B-1 visa allows entry for business purposes for up to six months, and it may be renewed for an additional six months upon expiry.
Can my family come with me to the US under a B-1 visa?
Yes, dependant children under the age of 21 and your spouse may obtain a dependents visa in order to travel with you. However, they will each need to apply for a B-2 visa (see below).
What is a B-2 Visa?
A B-2 visa can be granted to an individual who wishes to enter the US for tourism purposes. If you wish to visit the US for solely tourism, and not in order to work or study, you may apply for a B-2 tourism visa. Please note that if you are a citizen from a US Visa Waiver Program, for example if you are a Canadian citizen, you do not require a visitor visa to enter Canada.
For visitors whose country is not exempt from obtaining a B-2 visa to enter, you will need to demonstrate the following to be eligible:
- That you intend to enter the US for either tourism or for medical treatment purposes;
- That you have the necessary funds to cover the costs of your trip and all related expenses for the entire duration of your trip;
- That you do not have the intention to remain in the US permanently. You may show assets and ties that you have to your home country and your intent to return upon the end of your trip.
What is the duration of a B-2 visa and can it be renewed?
The B-2 visa allows entry into the US for up to six months and the visa may be renewed for up to an additional six months upon expiry.
Can my family come with me to the US if I hold a B-2 Visa?
Unfortunately, the B-2 visa is exclusive to the applicant and you may not bring any dependents with you if you are entering the US for tourism purposes. However, your dependents, if they qualify, can also apply for and obtain their own B-2 visa.
The E-1 and E-2 Trade and Investor Visa
The E-1 visa allows individuals or employees of a company to enter the US in order to carry out international business or trade. The definition of trade is not strict and can include goods, services and even banking. An important advantage of this visa is that it will also allow immediate family, such as your spouse and children under the age of 21 to enter the US with you and will further grant your spouse the right to work in the US.
The E-2 visa is designed for certain treaty country investors who wish to come to the US and operate a business enterprise which will generate income, and one which the business owner will control. Furthermore, the commercial enterprise ought to generate jobs in the US and be of an important initial investment. Although no specific amount is indicated as to what “substantial investment” is, the average investment made used the E-2 Visa program is about $200,000 USD. An E-2 visa can initially be granted for up to five years and can be renewed indefinitely. As is the case with an E-1 visa, immediate family, such as a spouse and children under the age of 21 may enter the US with the visa holder and will grant a spouse the right to work in the US.
The E-1 and E-2 visas are available to citizens of countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. For a complete list of treaty countries, please visit.
E-1 Visa requirements
Once you establish that your country of origin is on the list of treaty countries, you must demonstrate that you are planning to come to the US in order to either engage in a substantial trade, meaning in a qualifying activity principally between the US and the treaty country or develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.
According to the US Department of State, in order to qualify for an E-1 visa, you must:
- Hold citizenship in a treaty country, such as for example, from Argentina, China, France, Italy, U.K., Canada, Finland, Israel, Mexico etc.;
- Demonstrate that you plan to own at least 50% of shares in the enterprise, business or trade that you plan to carry out;
- Demonstrate a “substantial trade” that will take place, this could be the size or volume of the operations, however a specific amount is not defined;
- Show that more than 50% of the volume of the trade will be carried out between the US and the treaty country;
- Be a key employee, employed in a managerial or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential for the efficient operation of the business. Please note that an ordinary skilled or unskilled worker, does not qualify.
Finally, you will also need to demonstrate your intent to return to your home country at the end of the visa period.
E-2 Visa Requirements
If you are a citizen of one of the 30 or so countries which have a treaty with the US, you may qualify for an E-2 visa which would allow you to enter the US in order to invest or set-up a business.
Although the E-2 visa does not grant the investor the right to obtain residency by way of a green card, it does offer the great advantage in it is renewable indefinitely, as long as you can demonstrate that you have a viable business in the US.
According to the US Department of State, in order to qualify for an E-2 visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have citizenship of a treaty country, for example, from Argentina, Switzerland, Armenia, Australia Luxembourg, Poland, Iran, Mexico, Romania, Tunisia, Egypt, Italy, Moldova, Ukraine, Jamaica, Mongolia, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Netherlands, Finland, Kazakhstan, Canada, France etc.;
- The business may be a new or existing enterprise, but it cannot only create a job for the investor, it must also create additional jobs;
- At least 50% of the business must be owned by the individual who applied for the E-2 visa;
- The investment into the business must be “substantial” in nature, with investment funds or assets committed and one which cannot be easily revoked. The amount invested must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise;
- The investment must be made into a real operating enterprise, or an active commercial or entrepreneurial business;
- The business must generate significantly more income than just to provide enough for a living to you and your family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the US.;
- The business must have a physical business location and cannot be run from the investor’s home;
Can I apply for an E-1 or an E-2 Visa if I am from Russia, Jordan, Haiti, Azerbaijan, Albania or Nicaragua?
Unfortunately, at the moment the above listed countries do not qualify for the E-1or E-2 visas as the US did not yet ratify their treaties.
For further information, to inquire whether you are eligible to apply for the EB-5, B, or E Visas described above or any other US business visas, and to obtain a free consultation with an immigration attorney specialized in business visas to the US, call us today at 1-888-603-3003.