Investment Based Immigration

Both permanent residence and a “temporary” visa are available for foreigners who are seeking to invest in a new or already existing enterprise located in the United States. The “temporary” visa, called a E-2 investor visa, is only available to applicants from certain countries (See below for list). The immigrant visa (for permanent residence) is available for those who invest $1,000,000.00 in the United States or $500,000.00 in a rural or targeted area determined to need more investment.

  1. Immigrant Investors
    Permanent residence is available for immigrants seeking to invest substantial sums in the United States under the fifth employment base preference. These visas are for immigrants who are creating a new business in the United States or have substantial financial and management interest in the business. The immigrant must:

    1. invest $1 million or $500,000 in a rural or area targeted as needing more investment;
    2. benefit the U.S. economy;
    3. create 10 new jobs, excluding family members; and
    4. be involved in the day-to-day management and formulation of policy for the enterprise.

    Persons seeking to immigrate through investment obtain “conditional” permanent residence for two years and, at the end of the two years, will become a regular permanent resident if their investment still meets the statutory criteria.It is noteworthy that the $1,000,000.00 or $500,000.00 invested need not be entirely in cash. INS regulations define capitol to mean cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents, and debt (loans), as long as that debt is secured by assets owned by the foreign investor, and not secured by the enterprise on which the petition is based.

  2. Nonimmigrant, E-2 Investors
    E-2 visas are for owners and investors in businesses in the United States. An E-2 is a non-immigrant visa that may be granted for investments of less than $500,000. People may hold this visa for an indefinite period of time and after they accumulate more than $500,000 they may be eligible for immigrant visa. The E-2 visa is also available to certain employees of investors.An investment must meet several criteria in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. These criteria include:

    1. showing that “substantial” investment funds are available and committed to the investment;
    2. the investment must be in an active business as opposed to passive investment such as purchasing a home,
    3. at least 50% of the business must be owned by an applicant from a country which has a treaty with the United States; and
    4. the investment must create enough profit to provide a living for more than just the applicant and his/her family.

    It is often useful to show that the investment will create new jobs, although this is not necessary.There is no minimum amount of investment necessary to obtain an E-2 visa, and whether an amount will be considered “substantial” depends on the type of business involved, the number of jobs created, the alien’s personal assets, etc. In one reported case, a $15,000 investment was approved. However, in most cases this will not be enough. Loans, as long as they are not secured by assets owned by the business, are counted towards the investment as are non-cash assets which i.e., inventory, intellectual property, real estate, etc. Given the variety of factors that are considered in determining whether an investment is “substantial”, it is strongly recommended that the prospective investor seek legal advice from Mr. Perkins.

Employees of E-2 companies may be granted E-2 visas if they are or will be engaged in duties that are executive, managerial, or supervisory in character. If employed in a minor capacity, the employee may be granted E-2 visa if he or she has special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the enterprise.

The “temporary” E-2 investor visa can be renewed as long as the business continues to exist and the investment remains “substantial.”

The E-2 visa is available for people from the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia/Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • China (Taiwan)
  • Colombia
  • Congo
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Honduras
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Korea
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Liberia
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Senegal
  • Slovakia
  • Serbia – Montenegro
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Zaire
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