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US Investor Visa Requirements

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

US Investor Visa Requirements

For non-US nationals looking to invest in a US enterprise, there are two primary immigration routes to consider: the E-2 Treat Investor visa, which is a temporary visa option, and the EB-5 investor program, which grants the holder a Green Card and US permanent residence.

Each option has its merits and downsides to consider against your needs and circumstances.

 

E2 investor visa requirements

The E2 visa permits nationals of E2 Treaty nations to enter and work in the US in a business in which they have made a substantial investment. For your investment to qualify, you will need to demonstrate your ownership of the funds and that the source of the funds are legitimate.

There is no cap on the number of E2 visas allocated and E2 investors are permitted to bring spouses and minor children to the US. It also allows employees of the E2 company with specialized skills to work in the US.

As a non-immigrant visa, the E-2 provides temporary permission to live in the US. While E2 visa holders can apply to renew their status, they can only do so if they continue to meet the visa requirements. For example, they must continue to work at the E-2 company.

Importantly, the E2 visa does not offer holders a direct route to US permanent residence. Alternative routes, such as the EB5,  should be considered if your goal is to remain in the US on a permanent basis.

the following are key factors when considering your eligiblity and application for the E2 visa:

Nationality test
There has to be an appropriate Treaty of Trade and Commerce in place between the US and your home country.

You must also evidence that the Treaty national applicant owns at least 50% of the enterprise. Where subsidiaries are involved, it will be a matter of tracing ownership to the parent company and looking at shareholders at the top of the organization to determine whether the business meets the nationality test.

Investment factors
The investment is required to be ‘substantial’. There is no threshold amount specified in the rules, however the Consulate will be looking for proof that sufficient funds have been placed into the business to make it an operational enterprise.

There may be other factors to consider when demonstrating investment levels. For example, if the business has secured a valuable contract in the US, a smaller investment amount could be acceptable if there is evidence that revenue will be generated in the immediate future.

 

Job creation
What economic benefit will this investment have on the US economy?

The E2 requirements extend to you as the applicant, the investment funds and the business itself:

  • You are a national of a Treaty country
  • You have or are in the process of making the required investment
  • The investment qualifies as ‘substantial’
  • The enterprise is legitimate and operational
  • The enterprise is more than ‘marginal’
  • You have the capability to direct and develope the business
  • If an employee, you will be undertaking an executive or supervisory role in the US company and have the skills to perform this
  • You plan to leave the US on expiry of your E2 visa or completion of the E2 assignment

 

E2 supporting documents
Your E2 visa application must be accompanied by documents evidencing the eligibility of the applicant, the investment, and the business.

The specific documents you will need to provide will be determined by your proposed investment activity.

In addition to the supporting evidence, a business plan will also be required, detailing how your investment will satisfy the job creation requirement.

 

EB-5 investor requirements

Through the EB-5 program, non-US investors may become eligible to secure a US Green Card by investing in a new commercial enterprise that results in the creation of ten full-time jobs for US workers. A new commercial enterprise is defined as a for-profit organisation, conducting lawful activities, formed after November 29, 1990.

With permanent residence status, EB-5 visa holders are permitted to live, work and study in the US for an initial period of 2 years.

You can also be accompanied by your partner and dependant children.

Unlike the uncapped E2 visa, there is a restriction on the number of EB-5 visas which can be allocated. 10,000 EB-5 visas are made available each calendar year for foreign investors and their dependents. Of this, 3,000 are for Regional Center investors.

For your investment to qualify, you will need to demonstrate your ownership of the funds and that the source of the funds is legitimate.

To be eligible for the EB5 program, you will need to make an investment of at least $1,050,00 into a qualifying enterprise, or at least $800,000 if making an investment in a Targeted Employment Area.

In simple terms, EB-5 visa applicants are permitted to take one of two investment options:

 

Direct investment in a new commercial enterprise undertaking lawful profit-making activity.
This includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.

This definition does not include non-commercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.

The investment must create full-time positions for at least ten qualify​ing​ employees, ie resident US workers within a two-year period immediately following the approval of the EB-5 petition.

There are a number of conditions attached to the job creation requirement, for example relating to indirect and direct jobs, and troubled businesses. EB-5 visa Applicants are advised to take advice on their petition to ensure they meet the criteria.

 

Investment through a government-approved Regional Center

Regional Centers direct foreign investments into pre-approved capital investment projects that satisfy the EB-5 visa eligibility criteria. These are typically found in “targeted employment areas,” generally rural or high-unemployment zones.

The benefit for investors is that this option removes the need to personally manage the business and to meet the job creation target.

 

EB-5 supporting documents

Your EB-5 visa application must be accompanied by documents evidencing your eligibility.
The specific documents you will need to provide will be determined by your proposed investment activity.

For example, if you plan to invest in a new commercial enterprise, you will need to submit evidence that the enterprise qualifies as ‘new’ and is ‘for profit’. You will also need to show how you are or will be involved in managing the enterprise. Evidence will also of course be needed of your investment activity, verifying the lawful source of the funds.

In addition to the supporting evidence, a business plan will also be required, detailing how your investment will satisfy the job creation requirement.

If you are filing to remove conditions in advance of your visa expiry, extensive documentation covering the two-year visa period in respect of your investment activity and job creation achievement, such as payroll records, bank statements, contracts and tax returns.

 

Need assistance?

NNU Immigration are specialists across all classes of US visa, including applications for investors.

US investor visas are particularly demanding in their eligibility criteria and the documents required to support applications.

With exceptional knowledge and insight into the visa application processes, we advise non-US entrepreneurs and investors, their dependents and their employees on available US visa and immigration options, including the EB-5 visa, providing full support with compiling and submitting applications to the relevant US authorities.

We help EB-5 visa applicants through both the Regional Center program and the direct investment route. We can also advise where alternative visa options such as the E-2 visa or L-1 visa may be more appropriate for your needs and circumstances.

US immigration policy is undergoing a period of considerable upheaval; we can advise on the prevailing impact of any changes in US visa rules that may impact the entry routes available to you.

For advice about your E-2 visa application, contact us.

 

US Investor Visa Requirements FAQs

How much money I have to invest in USA to get PR?

For the EB5 Green Card, you will need to invest a minimum of $1,050,000, or $800,000 in a Targeted Employment Area, in a new commercial enterprise.

 

Can I get a US visa if I buy a property?

Buying US real estate does not afford any additional or special US immigration rights. When applying for a visa, you will need to show you meet the relevant requirements. For the E2 visa, for example, you will need to show that the investment is more than a passive investment and will result in job creation.

 

How long does it take to get a US investor visa?

EB5 Green Cards can take between 1 to 3 years to process, while the E2 visa, which varies by Consulate, can typically take 2-3 months.

 

How much does the EB-5 visa cost?

EB-5 applications made outside the US cost $3,675 to file, and will incur an additional $345 fee for Consular processing. EB5 applications from within the United States cost $1140 to file Form I-485, with $85 for biometrics.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Author

Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law (AILA) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.