What Is an Investor Visa, and What Are the Requirements to Obtain It?

What is an investor visa? To become an immigrant investor, you may be able to live permanently in the U.S. with an EB-5 investor visa. This visa allows investors abroad to invest in US-based projects in accordance with the requirements in place.

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Curious to know more about the EB-5 investor visa and if you qualify to apply for one? Get some help from the attorneys at Cho Immigration Law by calling 312-853-3088.

What Is an Investor Visa?

Generally, EB-5 visa investment opportunities are those that involve a project based in the U.S. that overseas investors can invest at least $800,000 or $1,500,000 in while living in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents (LPRs).

The specific types of opportunities that fall under this category include expenditures of money, job creation, and new business ventures. The goal of this visa is to allow foreign investors to support new opportunities in the US while giving these investors the chance to live and work in the US.

However, there are criteria in place if you need to apply for this visa as an investor abroad.

What Are the Requirements for Obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa?

If you would like to apply for an EB-5 Visa, the following are the requirements you must meet:

An Investment Minimum

How much money is required for an investor visa in the U.S.? This depends on the location of the investment.

If you plan on investing in a targeted employment area (TEA) in the U.S., you will need to invest a minimum of $800,000 in the investment opportunity. These employment areas have a minimum of 150% of a rural area’s or the national unemployment rate.

However, if you want to invest in a new business venture in other locations, you must invest at least $1,500,000.

Investing in Commercial Enterprises

Not only must you invest a minimum dollar amount, but that money must also go toward something defined as a “new commercial enterprise.”

According to the USCIS definition, a new commercial enterprise is one that is established no earlier than November 29, 1990. A commercial enterprise, in this case, is any type of for-profit company originating from the U.S. that conducts lawful business.

There are exceptions for enterprises older than November 29, 1990. For example, the enterprise may qualify as an EB-5 investment opportunity if it has undergone significant reorganization or structural changes. It may also qualify if it has seen a 40% increase in its employee body or net worth.

Examples of new commercial enterprises include:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Joint ventures
  • Holding companies and their wholly owned subsidiaries
  • limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • General or limited partnerships
  • Other publicly or privately owned business entities that can receive investments

When investing in these properties, you have the option of making either regional or direct investments. Direct investments entail investing or purchasing existing enterprises or launching a new company. Meanwhile, regional investments involve investing in regional centers.

Job Creation

Another criterion to consider is the creation of at least 10 jobs in the U.S., which consists of full-time jobs for employees who work a minimum of 35 hours per week. Workers who can apply for these jobs include LPRs, American citizens, and immigrants in the country with an employment-based visa, but they exclude nonimmigrant workers.

The jobs created through the investment can include either direct or indirect jobs. Direct jobs come from the new commercial enterprise and function as the employer in the relationship with the qualified workers. Conversely, indirect jobs result from the activities of the new commercial enterprise, such as jobs created by the demand for more services from a manufacturer that provides equipment for the enterprise.

Legal Funding

Investments must come in the form of legally obtained funds. In the process, you must prove that your investment funds come from a legitimate source, such as accrued savings, sold properties or businesses, gifts, or inheritance.

Not only will you need to show that your money comes from legal sources, but you must also show that the money will legally transfer to the investment.

Most of this proof of legal funding will consist of recent bank statements, along with other types of financial documentation tracing the origins and ultimate path of investment funds.

A Management Role in the New Commercial Enterprise

Another key requirement is that the EB-5 visa holder must play a management role in the commercial enterprise. Managerial responsibility could include daily management or the development of company policies.

You may effectively prove this aspect by providing USCIS with a title statement that includes details about your management role within the company.

“At-Risk” Funds

One last requirement to consider is that your investment funds must qualify as “at-risk,” meaning that they can result in either a total gain or loss. You may satisfy this requirement by using an escrow account to hold your funds, but there must be no guarantee that your funds will go back to you via return of investment (ROI).

What Is the Process of Obtaining an EB-5 Investor Visa?

Obtaining an investor visa in the U.S. follows a similar path to other types of visas.

To get this type of visa, you must follow these steps:

  1. Submit an immigrant petition and all necessary supporting documentation, allowing you to enter the country as a conditional permanent resident.
  2. When submitting Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, you must show that your investment meets all of the above requirements, including that your investment involves legal funds, that the investment opportunity qualifies as a new commercial enterprise, and you have management duties within the enterprise.
  3. If necessary, you may file Form I-485 to adjust your status if you are currently a nonimmigrant investor, which will help you obtain a two-year green card for conditional permanent residency.
  4. Submit Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, which will enable you to extend your conditional status. You must complete and submit this form within 90 days of the end of your status as a conditional permanent resident, and you’ll need supporting documentation that further proves your qualifications.
  5. USCIS will provide you with Form I-797, Notice of Action, to confirm its receipt of Form I-829.

How an Immigration Attorney in Chicago Can Help With Your Application

The process of applying for an EB-5 investor visa can be challenging, but the right Chicago immigration legal services attorney can help you navigate the entire process from beginning to end.

Immigration lawyers understand the many challenges that immigrants face and can work with them to overcome them, including the challenges of applying for investor visas and other visa types. They can also go into the immigration myths that might make you reluctant to apply for a visa.

Additionally, immigration lawyers in Chicago can answer any questions you have, such as “What is the difference between immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas?” and “How can I choose the right visa?” You may find that another visa opportunity better suits your immigration needs.

There are many services that immigration lawyers can provide based on your unique requirements. For instance, they can help you identify the appropriate visa, assist with the completion of documents like Form I-526 and others, and ensure you successfully navigate the application process. If you face issues such as deportation, attorneys could also represent you to help prove that you are legally capable of remaining in the country, either as an immigrant investor or another type of visa holder.

Having a lawyer by your side when applying for an investor visa will ultimately help make the entire process smoother and simpler. Otherwise, you could face challenges and issues that might compromise your case and limit your options.If you would like help from an experienced immigration attorney, contact us Cho Immigration Law by calling 312-853-3088. We can help you determine if an EB-5 investor visa is right for you, or help you find more suitable opportunities to enter the U.S. as a conditional or lawful permanent resident.