Thanks to its growing private industry, dynamic market, healthy competition, and progressive regulatory framework, the United States has consistently been ranked among the Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Countries for Business. So, if you are looking for the best cradle for your business venture, the US might just be the obvious choice.
But starting a business in the US also comes with a few more benefits – including the chance of securing a green card and becoming an American citizen. Here’s how to get started on this pathway to citizenship.
Getting Your Green Card Through EB-5 investment
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a range of options for people looking to become lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the US. From leveraging family ties to submitting an entry in the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, there are more than just a few ways to get a green card and become an LPR.
But if you have always dreamed of kickstarting your own business venture and you own enough assets or funds to financially support your enterprise, making EB-5 visa project investments can offer you a smarter and more straightforward way to access citizenship.
The EB-5 Preference – also called the Million Dollar Green Card – is an alternative for alien investors to buy a green card through the Immigrant Investor Program.
Unlike other Employment-Based Green Card Preferences, when applying for an EB-5 visa you won’t need to prove that you have exceptional skills or advanced degrees. Some benefits of this employment-based green card include:
- No need to be sponsored by an employer
- You won’t need a Labor Certificate
- You can skip long waits
- Your spouse and children under 21 will automatically become lawful permanent residents
EB-5 Visa: What Are The Requirements?
Each year, between 3,500 and 10,700 EB-5 visas are awarded to qualifying investors. While over the past two years this number has been declining – also due to the consequences of the pandemic – the Congress has made this visa more accessible and appealing through the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022.
The requirements for this type of visa are radically different from other employment-based green cards, and include:
- You’ll need to invest at least $1.8 million in establishing a new business or growing an existing one by at least 40%. This amount is reduced to $900,000 if you invest in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), which are either rural areas or areas with a level of unemployment at least 150% greater than the national average.
- You will need to present a business plan to prove how your business venture will create jobs for at least 10 qualifying employees and benefit the US economy.
- You will need to play an active and present role in your company and prove that the asset or funds used to financially support your business venture come from legal means.
How to Get an EB5 Green Card
While the H-1B Visa is more popular than ever, EB-5 green cards are a much more convenient option for those investors who have the necessary funds to start or grow a business. However, the process of securing an EB-5 can be complex and last longer than six months. Here’s how to get started:
- Find a project – whether you are starting a business from scratch, enlarging an existing one, bringing more job opportunities in TEAs, or making the most of the Regional Center program, the first step is to decide where your business will be located.
- Make your EB-5 investment and submit a petition – using form I-526 (or the Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur). During this step, you will need to prove that you are admissible in the US, will create at least 10 jobs, and have legit investment money.
- Receive a conditional Green Card – after your petition, you will receive a temporary or conditional green card. This temporary residency permit allows you to stay in the US for up to 2 years. Three months before your green card expires, you can petition to remove the conditions on your green card through form I-829.
If your business meets the necessary requirements after two years, you will receive a permanent Green Card.
The Next Step: Applying For Citizenship
According to the five-year rule, you can apply for citizenship five years after receiving your Green Card. However, you will need to prove that you have been legally residing in the US and have been physically present in the country for at least 30 months or 2.5 years in the past 5 years.
While the journey to citizenship can be long and challenging, an EB-5 visa is the first step to building the right foundations for your naturalization pathway. Have you got enough funds to start a business venture? Get started today!