What to know about foreign investor visas for the USA

The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) provides foreign investors with several avenues by which they can secure residency in the United States.

The three primary investor visas for the USA are the E-2, E-3 and EB-5. Below, the basics of each visa will be discussed, from whom they are intended, to the process that an investor needs to follow in order to acquire them.

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Types of investor visas

An E-2 visa permits individuals that make a substantial financial contribution to a bona fide commercial enterprise to enter and live in the United States for the purposes of managing the implementation of their investment.

An E-3 visa allows citizens of Australia to enter the United States to acquire employment in fields where specialized skills are necessary.

An EB-5 visa grants entry to the United States to foreign investors that commit $1,000,000 USD ($500,000 USD in places designated as a targeted employment area) with the intention of creating or preserving a minimum of ten full-time positions in a new commercial enterprise.

Qualification requirements

Investors that wish to qualify for an E-2 visa must make a financial contribution to an existing or newly created business that is deemed by the USCIS to be substantial.

The amount invested cannot be marginal in the eyes of USCIS, and the commercial enterprise must be shown to provide the investor with an acceptable lifestyle while they reside in the United States.

The investor must be in possession of the needed funds for their proposed investment at the time of application, and must also prove that it came from legitimate sources.

In order to acquire an E-3 visa, applicants must possess Australian citizenship; permanent residents or non-nationals of Australia do not qualify for this visa category.

In addition to possessing specialized skills or knowledge, applicants must also have earned the minimum of a Bachelor’s degree at an accredited university, or have evidence demonstrating a minimum of twelve years work experience in their field.

Those that want to obtain an EB-5 visa need to invest $1,000,000 USD ($500,000 USD in targeted employment areas) in a new commercial enterprise, which is defined as a business that was established on or after November 29th, 1990.

business investors are permitted to fund commercial enterprises founded before that date if they had been purchased and re-organized into a different mode of business, or if their planned investment will result in a minimum 40% increase in its net worth or its employee head count.

Their investment must preserve or create a minimum of ten full-time positions (not including the investor or immediate family members), and proof that this condition has been satisfied must be submitted to USCIS within 90 days of the expiry of their visa.

How to apply for a foreign investor visa

To apply for an E-2 visa, an appointment for an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy nearest them must be made.

Apart from standard requirements (passport photo, non-refundable fee, submission of various forms, etc), applicants must submit a detailed business plan demonstrating how their investment will make sufficient money, show a current source of income, and prove that they intend to return to their home country after they have finished managing their investment.

To apply for an E-3 visa, the applicant must have secured an offer of employment from a firm within the United States, and they must be in possession of an approved Labor Condition Application and a job offer letter sent by the sponsoring employer before they schedule an interview at a US consulate or embassy within Australia.

The applicant must also secure sufficient proof of their educational background, and complete the DS-160 form before attending their meeting with embassy/consular officials.

To apply for an EB-5 visa, investors will need to complete form I-526 prior to their meeting with their nearest consulate or embassy.

This form will assess the suitability of their application, as it requires the investor to submit proof that they have already invested the required amount of capital, and have a credible plan to create or preserve jobs over the life of the visa term.

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