The US Investors Visa Programme was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 to encourage the flow of major investments into the United States to help stimulate the economy through job creation.
In exchange for the investments made, the United States offers the foreign investors a variety of immigrant and non-immigrant visa options, such as EB-5; L-1 or EB-1C. This article aims at demystifying the myths associated with the various U.S. Investor Program.
According to Dr. Martins Imudia, attorney and Director at the Centre for U.S. Immigration Services in Tampa, Florida, it is not enough to buy property in the United States to obtain investors visa.
He, however, noted that if the investment in property such as house(s) or other form of real estate is substantial enough, leading to sustainable job creation, investors’ visa may be obtained.
“Many clients have had to invest well over $0.5 million hoping to gain legal permanent residency only to come to us years later and realize that a visa is not available based on the investment. The investors or business visa categories are premised on job creation. Therefore, buying property or other forms of investment is not enough, if sustainable jobs are not created,” he said.
In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, the foreign investor must establish that he/she will be investing a minimum of $500,000 in a new enterprise, if investing in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), or $1,000,000, if investing in a metropolitan and Non-Targeted Employment Area (Non-TEA). Starting in September of 2015 under the proposed changes to EB-5 law, the minimum investment required from foreign nationals to qualify for an EB-5 is $800,000 for TEA investments as compared to the $500,000 minimum currently required.
As for non-TEA, the minimum investment requirement would be at $1.2 million. In addition to the amount involved, the investment must create 10 sustainable jobs for citizens and green card holders. ”What we find with the property investors is that they buy multiple houses with no path for job creation.
In addition to the challenges of not being able to create jobs, investors run the risk of falling foul of the law depending on how they are paid rents or profit from the property because they do all these without any work authorisation. Before investing in property with the ultimate goal of obtaining an immigrant visa, consult with an experienced immigration attorney,” Imudia stated.
Most EB-5 practitioners are not familiar enough with a particular market to properly document funding on their own. Also, tax regimes in most emerging countries are weak, so the investor’s source and path of investment funds must be carefully documented to meet U.S. requirements. By transferring money and buying property, it may become more difficult to document the source of funds. Potential investors must therefore work with their EB-5 representatives to discern best practices for documentation.
The EB-1C visa is a good way for small or start-up overseas companies to expand their business and services to the United States. It is reserved for mid to high-level employees of multinational businesses who are being asked by their employer to move to the US. In order to qualify for a Multinational Manager or Executive Visa, an applicant must meet certain requirements – three year work period with the multinational company and specialized background.
Unlike the EB-1C, an L-1 visa is a type of a non-immigrant visa, which allows companies to not only conduct intra-company transfers of its employees from its foreign office to its United States office, but – in cases where the foreign company does not have a United States-based office – it also allows them to send executives or managers for the purpose of setting up a new one.
To qualify for this, the foreign investor must show that he or she has secured the necessary location to house its new office, and that the employee being sent under an L-1 status is someone who has held an executive or managerial position continuously for one year within the three years preceding the filing of an L-1 application.
In addition, the foreign investor investing in a new office in the United States must show that the new office is one that will support an executive or managerial position within one year after the L-1 petition has been approved.
For the L-1 visa classification approval, the foreign investor need not meet any monetary investment requirements. However, although there is no specific monetary value required for an L-1 visa, unlike an EB-5, it does not grant its holder permanent residency immediately. Over the course of some years however, the L-1 visa holder may apply for EB-1C visa and obtain immigrant visa so long as jobs are created based on a sustainable substantial investment.
Benefits of investors visa
While investors ultimately obtain immigrant visas for themselves and their family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21), many investors have used the EB-5 platform to transfer technology to their home countries. The platform enables investors to incubate innovative businesses and transfer technology and resources when needed.
Also, since the United States is the most desired education destination, by obtaining investors visa before children reach the university level, they are able to take advantage of lower university fees.
Decision on steps for obtaining investors’ visa (whether L-1, EB-1C or EB-5) requires careful review of the investorfs immigration goals and financial resources. It is best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney if you are seeking to enter the United States as an investor.