EB-5 Green Cards
Administered by USCIS, the EB-5 program permits applicants (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) to be eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:
- Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
- Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
- Eligible Businesses – must be a new commercial enterprise created after 11/29/90.
- Capital Investment Thresholds – Typically $1M. For investment in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which is an area of high unemployment or a rural area, $500,000. This amount is expected to be significantly increased in 2018.
- There are two ways to make an EB-5 investment:
- Direct Job Creation Investments – Direct jobs are actual jobs where the entity receiving the investment directly creates the job. Examples are: an investment into a hotel, which directly creates at least 10 new jobs; or an investment into a chemical supply company, which directly creates at least 10 new jobs.
- Regional Center Investments – Investments made through Regional Centers can take advantage of a more expansive concept of job creation, including “direct ” and “indirect” jobs. Indirect jobs are those created collaterally or those created in connection to a regional center. An example is: an investment into a Limited Partnership, which builds an office tower. None of the jobs are created by the Limited Partnership, but rather they are created by other employers, such as retail shops and restaurants located in the office tower, as well as employment created in the immediate area due to the construction of the office tower.
L-1 Visas Leading to EB-1C Green Cards
The L-1 is a nonimmigrant status that is available to qualifying multinational companies that want to move an executive or manager from its office outside the U.S. to a related office inside the U.S. The executive or manager must have been employed by the office outside the U.S. for at least one year. The L-1 visa can be approved in as little as four months, permitting the L-1 executive or manager to enter the United States with his/her spouse and children under the age of 21. One year after arriving in L-1 status, the foreign national can apply for a Green Card as a multinational executive or manager.
O-1 Visas Leading to EB-1A Green Cards
The O-1 is a non-immigrant status that is available to an individual who has received sustained national or international acclaim, and who has “extraordinary ability” in either the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The O-1 visa can be approved in as little as four months, permitting the O-1 foreign national to enter the United States with his/her spouse and children under the age of 21. At any time, the foreign national can apply for a Green Card as a person of extraordinary ability.
It is not necessary to have won the Nobel Prize or an Olympic gold medal to secure an O-1 visa. In reality, a demonstration of any combination of at least three of the following criteria may qualify as being “extraordinary”:
- You have received nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- You belong to an organization requiring outstanding achievements of its members
- Your work has been published in or featured by major trade publications, professional journals, or major media outlets
- You have engaged in professional review or judging of the work of your peers in the same or a related field of specialization
- You have made major or significant and original scientific, scholarly, or business related contributions
- You have worked in a leading or an essential capacity for a distinguished organization
- Your skills command a high salary.
The E-2 is a non-immigrant status for investors who are citizens of certain countries with whom the United States has a treaty for investments. If you are a citizen of a country who does not have such a treaty for investment, we can assist you in becoming a citizen of one of several countries who have such a treaty.
Startups have special concerns, no matter which visa category they are trying to access.
The United States does not have any special visa or Green Card category for start ups. However, founders of start ups can often be approved for L-1, O-1, E-2 or H-1B visas.