A lot of people do not realize that one does not have to invest the $500,000 minimum for the EB5 program in order to invest in the U.S. There are three ways to enter the U.S. as an investor. and that is just one of them.
The second way is via an L1 visa. This visa is called the “Intracompany Transferee” visa and if you own a company anywhere in the world and open a branch, subsidiary, or affiliate in the U.S. you may qualify for an L1 visa. The good news is that once you had the visa for a year you can apply for a Green Card in the EB1 category and obtain it a year later.
The L1 visa can be obtained with an investment as low as $100,000. In order to qualify for an L1 you must be a high-level manager, or executive (ie decision maker) of the company in your country as well as the United States. You can be transferred as an international manager or executive. The visa can last up to 7 years but many people apply for the Green Card and can obtain in 2 years from when their L1 is approved. You are also able to bring in an employee who has specialized knowledge of your company, or how things are done in your company. This person can remain in the United States for up to 5 years but does not qualify for the EB1 Green Card.
The third method is with an E2 visa. This visa is for people from “treaty” countries, which include Canada, Mexico, most of Western Europe, and Australia (as an exception). If you are from one of these countries you can invest as little as $100,000 and may will qualify for the E2 visa, which is renewable indefinitely as long as you have a “mental intent to return to your country of origin at some time in the future”. Yes, that is a strange provision but many people die before they manifest their intent to return to their country of origin. (a full list of treaty countries can be found at http://myimmigrationattorney.com/investor-visa-lawyer/e-2-treaty-investor-visa-introduction/treaty-country-list-for-e-visas/).
The last method is the EB5, which is the best known. In this case you have two choices. You can invest $500,000 (in an area of high unemployment) or $1 million (in an area without high unemployment) and you must hire 10 full-time employees for 2 years. A full-time employee for immigration purposes only requires the person to work for 30 hours a week, not the standard 40. A hotel, for example, or a restaurant, is perfectly suited to this sort of situation, as is a manufacturing facility. This is direct investment. The EB5 leads directly to a Green Card in 2-3 years’ time.
There is a second way to qualify for the EB5, and that is through the Regional Center program. In that case, you invest your money in someone else’s project and wait 2-3 years and can obtain a Green Card. However, there has been much fraud reported with these programs and if you cannot afford to lose this money, this may not be the safest way of making your investment.
November 2, 2015
Avv. Sara Dell’Ariccia
Avv. Steven Riznyk
How do you Invest in the USA without Spending $500,000?