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Green Card through investment

Is it possible to buy a Green Card? Well, yes, kind of. America always welcomes people who seek to invest in the US economy. If you have enough assets, you can qualify for a Green Card through investment. This can be an excellent way for you to both move to the USA and start the business of your dreams.

What is the Green Card through investment?

You may have heard of the “Million Dollar Green Card” or the possibility to “buy a Green Card.” This refers to the EB-5 visa which you can get through the Immigrant Investor Program.

The program was established as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. It enables foreign entrepreneurs who invest a larger amount in the USA to get a Green Card.

The Green Card through investment is particularly interesting for self-employed persons and business people. If they dispose of enough money or other assets, the investor's Green Card is a good opportunity to get to the United States without long waiting times.

Benefits of the investor’s Green Card

To be precise, the investor Green Card or EB-5 visa is a subcategory of the employment-based Green Card. However, compared to other work visas, the Green Card through investment offers you some decisive advantages:

  • Applicants are not required to have an American employer to sponsor them.
  • No higher education diploma or exceptional skills are needed.
  • A Labor Certification is not required. (In other employment-based Green Card categories, this certification is needed to prove that the applicant is not displacing equally qualified American workers.)
  • Unlike in other immigration categories, there are no long waiting times and quota rules.
  • Spouses and children under the age of 21 years will receive a Green Card alongside the applicant.
  • Permanent residency in the US can be obtained after five years as a Green Card holder.

Requirements for an investor’s Green Card

While the investor Green Card has many advantages, it also comes with a whole range of requirements. Applicants must provide extensive documentation and deal with a highly complex legal area. To qualify for an EB-5 visa, you have to:

  • Invest $ 1,050,000 (respectively $ 800,000 in targeted employment areas)
  • Present a business plan that explains how the US economy will benefit from your investment
  • Create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs for American workers
  • Invest in a new business (founded after November 29th, 1990), or purchase and restructure a business
  • Play an active role in your company
  • Prove that your investment capital is not acquired through illegal means
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The investment

First and foremost, you must be able to provide evidence that you dispose of an investment sum of $ 1,050,000. In regions that are designated as targeted employment areas, this threshold is lowered to $ 800,000.

Targeted employment areas (TEAs) are determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). They are either located in rural settings with a less developed economy or in regions where the unemployment rate is at 150 % of the national average.

The investment capital can be provided in various forms: cash, equipment, inventory, certificates of deposit, treasury bills, but also loans that are secured by assets of the investor can serve as capital.

If several investors participate in the same business, they can each receive a Green Card. However, it is necessary that each of the applicants contributes the required investment sum of $ 1,050,000, or respectively $ 800,000.

The type of business

To qualify for a Green Card through investment, the intended project must be a new commercial enterprise. This means that it must have been established on or before November 29th, 1990.

It is also possible to invest in an existing business established before November 29th, 1990. In that case, however, it must be purchased and restructured to form a new company. A significant increase (at least 40 %) in the company’s net value or the number of employees would also meet the requirements for the investor Green Card.

Your company must not be a non-profit project, otherwise the business form does not matter. Solo ownership, corporation, partnership, or joint venture: anything is possible. Yet it is important that the investor must be actively involved in the business.

4 steps to obtain the investor Green Card

So, what concrete action do investors who seek to open a US business have to take? The following four steps will get you a Green Card through investment:

Step 1: Finding a suitable business project

Decide what business project you want to invest in and where you want to locate your company. Are you going to spend $ 1,050,000 or more, or do you choose to support the economy in a targeted employment area by investing $ 800,000?

Step 2: Filing Form I-526

If you meet all requirements, you can file Form I-526, also known as Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When filing the petition, you must present evidence that you will create at least ten full-time jobs for US workers through your investment. Moreover, you have to prove that the investment money has been acquired in a legit way.

Step 3: Obtaining a conditional Green Card

The application process usually takes four to six months. If the USCIS approves your application, you will get a conditional Green Card. It will grant you residency in the United States for two years at first.

Step 4: Removing the conditions from your Green Card

To get rid of the two-year-condition, you have to file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) with the USCIS. The petition needs to be submitted about three months before your conditional residency expires.

At this point, you will have to prove that your business has met the necessary requirements of the EB-5 visa program. In case of success, a permanent Green Card will be issued to you.

However, if your I-829 petition is denied, you will have an opportunity to appeal. If this fails too, you will be placed in removal proceedings.

Bonus: Becoming a US citizen

The investor Green Card even enables you to “buy your way to US citizenship,” if you wish. After about five years as a Green Card holder, you will be eligible for US citizenship through naturalization.

Your savings don't quite cover an investment in the US? Why don't you try your luck in the next Green Card Lottery? Maybe you'll win one of the desired 55,000 US Green Cards soon!

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