One of the many ways to become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States is to investment in a commercial business venture. Known as the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, foreign entrepreneurs, their spouses and children under 21 years old who are not married can apply for a Green Card when minimum standards are met.
Created by Congress in the early 1990s to invigorate foreign investment in the United States, the EB-5 program is managed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
To apply for a Green Card under this program, investors must meet the following criteria:
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- The investment must be for a new commercial business.
- Prove that they intend to actively manage the business on a day-to-day basis or do so by setting business policies and procedures.
- Investors can purchase an existing business, but it must be restructured so that it creates a new commercial business.
- The business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a holding company, a joint venture, corporation or a business trust that can be privately or publicly owned.
- Within two years, the business must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. These can be direct jobs at the investor’s business, or indirect jobs that were created at another business but as a result of the entrepreneur’s investment. The investor, spouse and children may not be used as part of the job total.
- The investor must invest a minimum of $1 million in cash, tangible property, or inventory. It should be noted that the investment funds can’t be borrowed. At the time of their Green Card application, the investor will be required to show proof of ownership of adequate funds by producing personal and business tax returns, documents showing sources of money for the new business and a 15-year record of civil and criminal proceedings that involve monetary judgments.
- The minimum investment requirement drops to $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area. This is an area defined as having high unemployment or a rural area with high unemployment defined as 150 percent above the national average. A rural area is defined as an area outside a metropolitan statistical area or a place outside a town or city with a population of 20,000+ residents.
To begin the EB-5 application process, a foreign investor must file a Form I-526 Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. It can be found on the USCIS website.
Once approved, the investor can seek to become a conditional permanent resident of the United States. After this request has been approved, the investor and his family members will be granted conditional residency for two years and be awarded Green Cards.
Within 90 days at the end of the two-year period, the investor can file a Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions showing that the job creation and investment levels have been created. If approved, conditions related to the EB-5 program will be removed and the investor and his family members will be considered full lawful permanent residents.