Green Card Through Investment

The EB-5 visa preference category, created by Congress in 1990, is available to immigrants seeking to enter the United States in order to invest in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. The two ways to invest are: creating a new business or invest in a troubled business.

To qualify you must invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000. If your investment is in a designated targeted employment area then the minimum investment requirement is $500,000. The investment must benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets and create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers. This includes U.S. citizens, lawful permeant residents (Green Card holders) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the U.S., but does not include the immigrant, their spouse, or child. The immigrant must be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a corporate officer or board member.

As an alternative, the immigrant can invest at least $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in a designated targeted employment area) through a designated Regional Center approved by the USCIS. The Regional Centers must also create at least 10 new full-time jobs either directly through the capital investment. A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.

Acquiring lawful permanent residence (Green Card) through the EB-5 category is a three step process. First the successful applicant must obtain approval immigrant's Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur (Form I-526). Second, the immigrant must either file an I-485 application to adjust status to lawful permanent resident, or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy outside of the United States. The EB-5 applicant (and the derivative family members) are granted conditional permanent residence for a two year period upon the approval of the I-485 application or upon entry into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa. Third, a Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions (Form I-829 ) must be filed 90 days prior to the two year anniversary of the granting of the EB-5 applicant’s conditional Green Card. If this petition is approved by USCIS then the EB-5 applicant will be issued a new Green Card without any further conditions attached to it, and will be allowed to permanently live and work in the United States.

Temporary Visa Through Investment

Treaty Trader

The E-1 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in international trade on the immigrant's behalf. Or an employee of a treaty trader.

To qualify for E-1 classification, the treaty trader must:
  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Carry on substantial trade
  • Carry on principal trade between the United States and the treaty country which qualified the treaty trader for E-1 classification.
  • Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:
  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities
Substantial trade generally refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. There is no minimum requirement regarding the monetary value or volume of each transaction. While monetary value of transactions is an important factor in considering substantiality, greater weight is given to more numerous exchanges of greater value. Principal trade between the United States and the treaty country exists when over 50% of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty country.

To qualify for E-1 classification as an employee of a treaty trader, the employee must:
  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
  • If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty trader status. If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty traders
Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it. Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement. These include, but are not limited to:
  • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations
  • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States
  • Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement. Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(18) for a more complete definition
Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation.

A treaty trader or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted. An E-1 employee, however, may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries as long as the:
  • Relationship between the organizations is established
  • Subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills
  • Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed
USCIS must approve any substantive change in the terms or conditions of E-1 status. A “substantive change” is defined as a fundamental change in the employer’s basic characteristics, such as, but not limited to, a merger, acquisition, or major event which affects the treaty trader or employee’s previously approved relationship with the organization. The treaty trader or enterprise must notify USCIS by filing a new Form I-129 with fee, and may simultaneously request an extension of stay for the treaty trader or affected employee. The petition must include evidence to show that the treaty trader or affected employee continues to qualify for E-1 classification.

It is not required to file a new Form I-129 to notify USCIS about non-substantive changes. A treaty trader or organization may seek advice from USCIS, however, to determine whether a change is considered substantive. To request advice, the treaty trader or organization must file Form I-129 with fee and a complete description of the change.

A strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage at the intended place of employment may affect a Canadian or Mexican treaty trader or employee’s ability to obtain E-1 status.

Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty trader or employee. These family members may seek E-1 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee. If the family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in an E-1 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-1 spouse may work.