[03.17.12 ARTICLE, ASIAN J, BY SC]
Several times a month I receive a phone call from someone requesting a consultation regarding investment based immigration. This is an area of law that is very popular right now and provides a possibility of obtaining a green card even when you have no relatives or employer to file a petition on your behalf.
USCIS created the EB-5 path to permanent residency with the intent to increase foreign investment in the United States. There are essentially two options when it comes to obtaining a green card through investment. The first is investing through what is called a regional center. A regional center is an entity that has been approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to receive foreign investment in exchange for a green card. Depending on the regional center that you choose, the required amount of investment will vary. Some regional centers are able to receive a reduced investment of $500,000 while others will require a $1,000,000 investment to qualify. It depends on the location of project you will be investing in and the unemployment rates of that area.
It is important to realize that by investing in a regional center you do have ownership in the company but it does not come with control or decision-making. The regional center will be controlled by its principals. This is essentially a way to purchase a green card and hopefully earn interest as part of your investment. The investment is at-risk and it is possible that a portion or all of the investment could be lost.
For those that prefer to have more control over their investment, it is possible to obtain a green card by purchasing or investing in an existing business that is not a regional center. This is a much more complicated and difficult process but is something that may appeal to people who prefer to control their investment. The same rules apply when determining if the amount of the investment must be $500,000 or $1,000,000; it depends on the location of the business and unemployment rates in that area.
As part of either type of investment, you will initially be granted a temporary green card for two years. At the end of the two years, you must submit an application with immigration for permanent residency and include proof that your investment created 10 new full time jobs. This can be very difficult to obtain and prove, and is much easier to do when investing through a regional center. Regional centers will be able to show you their return on investment as well as the percentage of investors who are able to obtain the permanent green card at the end of the two years.
This type of investment could be good financially as well as provide a way to obtain a green card when no other option is available. The attorneys at Wilner & O'Reilly can advise you regarding all aspects of investment based immigration, and can represent you in an EB-5 application. We have the experience and knowledge necessary to assist through this complicated process.