Top 3 US Visas For Foreign Investors

 

    Living in the United States is undeniably a magnet for people from countries all over the world. Whether they are desiring more opportunity, safety, freedom, or simply better weather than their home country, thousands of hopefuls apply for US visas every year. If you don’t already have family in the US or don’t plan to marry a US citizen, then it can be quite difficult to get the necessary visa to live and work in America. Luckily, there are several visa options available to investors, which make it relatively easy to obtain a visa to move to the United States. Below are the most common investor visa options. 

    ​E-2 Treaty Investor

  • The E-2 visa is one of the easiest and most common ways for people wishing to live and work in the United States to make their American dream come true. To qualify as an E-2 investor, you must purchase an existing business or develop a new business. The US and your country of citizenship must have an E Visa Treaty. Countries that qualify are listed HERE. Below are some characteristics of the E-2 visa program:
  • Any type of business could qualify, with one exception: real estate development companies can be problematic with visa qualifications. 
  • An E2 visa is valid for 2-5 years (depending on country of origin and consulate used) and is renewable for as long as the person owns the business and is in good standing with USCIS. 
  • There is no direct path to citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • The visa will allow a spouse and children (under age 21) to reside in the US with you. 
  • There are unfortunately no published/established hard and fast rules for what the business qualifications are, but some general guidelines: 
    • The investment should be at least $100,000 and be able to support several workers. Ideally at least 2 employees is preferable.
    • Their financials and books need to be squeaky clean (i.e. not a cash-based owner-to-prove business). Owner benefit of at least $50,000 is ideal, because USCIS wants to see the business profitable and able to support the visa-holder and their family. 

L-1A Intra-Company Manager/Executive

Sometimes an E visa treaty with the US isn't in place with certain countries. In that case, an L-1 can be a great way to pursue your dream of owning a US business and living in the states. 

The L-1 visa requires that you have a foreign business that you have worked for either as a Manager or Executive. You must have done this at least one of the last three years, prior to applying for this visa. Both the US and foreign company must be owned by the same person or entities and in the same or similar proportions. The US and foreign company must be actively doing business. This is a much more involved and strict option, because the business must be substantial, with a good guideline of at least $1,000,000 in annual revenue (at the foreign business and the US business). It needs to be able to support many employees with multiple tiers of a management structure in place. 

After 18 months, the visa holder CAN apply for permanent residence status and then citizenship.

EB-5 Investor Immigrant

A foreign buyer often wants to reside in the US long-term. Those who invest at least $500,000 in a U.S. enterprise that creates at least 10 jobs in a rural area or a community with a high unemployment rate are eligible for special visas that put them and their families on the fast track to becoming permanent residents. This is what’s known as a Targeted Employment Area. Click HEREto see the TSAs for Florida. $1,000,000 of an investment would allow the investor to invest in any area or business of their choosing, but the job creation requirement still applies. 

For some wealthy immigrants lacking the family ties or special skills required for traditional U.S. visas, it's the fastest way to establish permanent residency apart from marrying a U.S. citizen. Investors aren't required to work in the business or participate in its management; some never even see the enterprises they buy into, as they are not required to work in or run the business that they invest in, unlike the E2 visa program. 

The federal program, known as EB-5, is relatively small, capped at 10,000 visas annually. But applications have skyrocketed since 2006 as entrepreneurs and cash-strapped towns have begun aggressively wooing wealthy foreigners as a low-cost source of capital. To learn more about the EB5 program, explore it HERE.

At Green & Co. Business Brokers, we specialize in helping visa buyers find and purchase the right business for them, which can secure their visa. We’d be happy to help, so contact us today!

*Disclaimer: We are licensed Business Brokers, not Attorneys. We rely on our Attorney partners for all of the latest visa and immigration information listed here and on our website. For legal questions concerning US visas or immigration to the United States, please contact an Immigration Attorney.