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U.S. immigration law provides several ways through which you can come to the United States through investment. There are three primary options for coming to the United States as an investor and they are very different.
EB-5 INVESTOR PROGRAM
The EB-5 visa program is in many ways the simplest investor visa to understand. If an individual invests $1.8 million into a U.S. business that will employ at least ten U.S. workers, they can be granted U.S. Permanent Resident status (a Green Card). The investment amount can be as little as $900,000 if the investment is made into certain targeted areas.
L-1A EXECUTIVE/MANAGER VISAS
While the L-1A Executive/Manager visa is not labeled as an “investor” visa, it can certainly be used as one. The L-1A visa program provides that foreign employers can transfer managers and executives to affiliated companies in the United States.
L-1A visas are often used by the leadership of companies to invest in new operations in the U.S. For example, a CEO of a foreign company can invest money to create a subsidiary in the U.S. to expand the business here. So long as the relationship between the companies is properly established, the CEO can transfer himself to the U.S. along with other executives and managers. They can also bring certain technically skilled employees on L-1B visas. While employees can be brought from abroad, the foreign company must continue to operate.
L-1 visas have no minimum required investment amount, however, USCIS may consider the viability of the business investment in deciding an L-1A case. L-1A is a temporary employment visa. However, L-1A holders can earn Green Cards through EB-1 visas for managers and executives.
E-1 AND E-2 TREATY VISAS
E-1 and E-2 treaty investor visas are only available to citizens of certain countries. Over 80 countries have entered into treaties with the United States that render their citizens eligible for E-1 and/or E-2 visas.
E-2 visas are a true investment visa. They are available to individuals who invest a “substantial” amount of capital in the United States and are coming to the country to develop and direct the enterprise in which they are investing.
While there is no minimum investment amount for an E-2 visa, there are some practical limitations. The investment must not be “marginal.” This means that the investment should be one that will generate more than just a living for the investors. The ideal E-2 business should be one that is expected to grow and employ U.S. workers as well.
E-1 visas are available to individuals who engage in substantial international trade, which is primarily between the United States and their country of citizenship.
The major downside to E-1 and E-2 visas is that they are a temporary visa (although they can be extended indefinitely). This means that they do not have a direct path to a U.S. Green Card, like EB-5 investors or L-1A Executives/Managers. They will have to be continually engaged in business they are invested in (E-2) or trading (E-1) to stay in the United States.
The Guidance of An Attorney
The attorneys of Sam Shihab & Associates are experienced in advising international investors as to how to meet their U.S. immigration goals. We have experience ranging from individual investors to billion-dollar international corporations.
Please call or email our office to talk to an attorney about your options for investment in and immigration to the United States.