Investor Visa Programs and Residency Opportunities in the United States

At Bovino Law Group, we also clear a path to your American dream by helping you to take advantage of the best visa programs and residency opportunities.

Not sure which one is right for you? Let’s take a closer look, starting with two of the most popular investment visas, the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa and the L-1 Executive Visa.

Investment Visas

If you’re interested in creating a new business in the United States, establishing a subsidiary or holding company in the United States, and/or making a substantial investment in an existing U.S. business, you should consider an investment visa.

The E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa permits foreign entrepreneurs from E-2 treaty nations (including Colombia) to enter the United States to direct and develop the operations of a U.S. business in which they have invested – or are in the process of investing – a substantial amount of capital.

The applicant for an E-2 visa must have made, or be in the process of making, an investment in a U.S. enterprise that is significantly proportional to the total investment in the business itself, which is typically (a) an amount necessary to establish the business if it’s a new one; or (b) more than 50% of the total value of the business, if it’s an existing one. Investment funds can include any monies spent to establish the new business or purchase an existing one.

The exact value of the investment is not defined, but in general the investments reach or exceed at least US$100,000 (more or less), and the more you invest, the better your chances of success.

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa – that is, the applicant intends to return to his or her home country eventually rather than apply for permanent residency (a green card) in the United States – but it can be renewed indefinitely.

For a more complete review of the eligibility criteria, application process, and other issues relating to the E-2 investor visa, click here.

The L-1 Visa

The L-1 (intra-company transfer) visa permits certain executives, managers and/or specialized employees of a foreign company to enter the United States for the purpose of opening a new office or branch of the foreign company, provided that sufficient funds have already been invested in or are available for the U.S. business and space for the U.S. office has been secured.

A relationship between the foreign and U.S. business entities, such as parent-subsidiary, branch, or affiliate must exist in order to qualify for an L-1 visa.

Consequently, foreign companies without a U.S. affiliate sometimes establish one prior to applying for the L-1 visa. However, it should be noted that in recent years (as L-1 visa approval standards appear to have tightened), the L-1 visa has been a better and more popular option for larger companies with an existing presence in the United States that simply want to expand their international operations by transferring talented executives abroad.

To qualify for an L-1 visa, an applicant must have worked for the foreign company for at least one year in the three years prior to applying for the visa.

Another big difference between the E-2 visa and L-1 visa is that an applicant can enter the United States on an L-1 visa with an intent to convert his/her L-1 nonimmigrant visa status into permanent residency (a green card) at some point. This may in part explain why it has become more difficult in recent years to get an L-1 visa, especially for smaller foreign companies, and why the E-2 visa has become a more viable and attractive option.

Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders)

Certain highly qualified foreign executives and investors can obtain permanent resident status in the United States without making a significant initial investment in a U.S. business with an EB-1 (extraordinary ability) visa or an EB-2 (national interest) visa.

Other foreign nationals and investors who do not meet the stringent standards applicable to EB-1 and EB-2 visas and have at least US$900,000 to invest may opt for another type of visa called the EB-5.

In either case, the “EB” part of these visa names stands for “Employment-Based” because that’s what they are.

The EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 visas are also sometimes referred to as the EB-1, EB-2, and EB-5 green cards because that’s what you get. Let’s take a closer look at them.

The EB-1A Visa

Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in art, science, business, education or athletics can obtain an EB-1A visa without a job offer from a company in the United States (unlike the O-1 visa) or a Labor Certification (unlike the H1-B visa), as long as the applicant will continue to work in his/her field in the United States and satisfies the high standard of qualification.

Keep in mind, however, that you must be able to demonstrate that you are truly extraordinary in your field – in other words, a star in your field. That means you will need to show that you have already received the awards, recognition, fame, and compensation in your field in your home country that one would associate with being truly extraordinary (e.g., your home country’s equivalent of an Academy Award in the field of acting or directing).

The EB-1C Visa

An EB-1C visa allows a U.S. employer to petition to transfer a highly proficient and skilled executive or manager of a foreign company to the U.S. company without obtaining an approved Labor Certification to hire a foreign worker (as would be necessary with an H1-B visa, for example).

A U.S. company that wishes to file such an EB-1C visa petition must demonstrate that they have been doing business in the United States for at least a year beforehand, however. And the foreign executive or manager must have been employed for one year within the past three years preceding the petition by the overseas affiliate, branch, subsidiary, or parent company of the U.S. employer.

The EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 visa is available for two types of applicants: (1) Members of professions who hold an advanced degree or its equivalent; and (2) those who can otherwise prove “exceptional ability” – that is, expertise that is significantly higher than the norm – in their specific field or industry, whether in the arts, sciences, medicine, business, or athletics.

If the applicant is applying based on an advanced degree or exceptional ability, the application must show that a pending U.S. job offer exists and a Labor Certification process has occurred to prove that there are no qualified U.S.-based workers for the same position.

There is an exception to the job offer and Labor Certification requirements, however, for applicants who apply based on a National Interest Waiver, on the grounds that it would be in the national interest of the United States to admit the applicant. For that reason, such an applicant may petition for an EB-2 visa directly, but the applicant should expect extensive scrutiny and extreme vetting by the USCIS to determine whether offering a green card to that person is clearly in the national interest of the United States.

The EB-5 Visa

Another employment-based road to permanent residency in the United States for those who can’t meet the tough standards of an EB-1 or EB-2 visa above is the EB-5 visa, but it’s expensive. To apply for an EB-5 visa (or EB-5 green card), you must invest either US$900,000 (in a for-profit U.S. entity located in a targeted employment area with high unemployment or a rural population) or US$1,800,000 in another for-profit commercial enterprise.

The USCIS also requires that EB-5 investments result in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Contact us today for assistance in getting your own U.S. investor visa or green card!

We look forward to hearing from you.