Employment/Investor Visas

A member recently asked us if we had ever heard of a program where foreign nationals can fast-track his or her way to a permanent resident visa in exchange for investing and generating a certain number of new jobs in the US. The program the REALTOR was referring to is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa, administered by the Department of Homeland Security. The basic outline is:

  • establish a new commercial enterprise in the US with a minimum investment of $1 million ($500,000 in a high unemployment or rural area)
  • create or preserve 10 full-time jobs for qualifying US workers within a certain amount of time
  • BUT owning or running a household does not count (ie. you aren’t gonna be able to hire ten servants to help at your estate)

There’s a whole slew of paperwork of course but it’s one way to establish residency. Earlier this year the New York Times had an article on how several new Marriott hotels have been financed through tapping into this ready pool of investors. As sources of traditional financing dried up in the Great Recession, a number of hotel firms have also used EB-5 financing to get projects off the ground, generally at rates of return less than those demanded by the broader market.

Other options are in the works. The Wall Street Journal ran an article recently on a proposed Start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs now in Congress:

The Senate bill calls for a number of changes to immigration law. Among them, it would create a new type of visa allowing foreign-born entrepreneurs legally in the U.S. to stay if they can raise $100,000 in capital and hire at least two American workers during their first year holding the visa.

People who would launch any type of business—from an Internet startup to a restaurant to a trash-hauling operation—would qualify for one of a total of 75,000 visas. The visa would last four years as long as the entrepreneur employed an average of five full-time employees during the final three years of the visa. After that, he or she could apply for a green card to stay in the country—and work—as a permanent resident. The legislation doesn’t specify whether the capital must come from U.S. investors.

For the latest developments on the bill (Startup Act 2.0), visit its page on GovTrack.us. The site doesn’t give it much chance of passing this term, but there’s always next year, and version 3.0.


Senior Information Specialist

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