In this blog post, we will discuss the top five ways that foreign investors can get a green card in the United States. This post will benefit potential investors or foreign nationals who want to maximize their chances of gaining permanent residence in the United States.
If you are a foreign investor or an entrepreneur there are essentially five ways to self-petition for permanent residence without the requirement of a job offer or employment sponsorship.
Option One: Green Card through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
The first option is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This program allows qualifying investors to obtain conditional permanent residence through an EB-5 visa. To qualify, investors must make a capital investment of $800,000 (in a Targeted Employment Area Regional Center Project) or $1,050,000 (in a new commercial enterprise that you create or buy into – also known as direct EB-5 investments). You must also demonstrate that the capital you are investing comes from a lawful source, and that your investment will create at least 10 new jobs for U.S. workers. Additionally, your capital investment must be committed to the project for at least five to seven years.
Once an investor’s EB-5 petition has been approved, he or she will receive a 2-year conditional green card. Before the expiration of the green card, the investor must remove the conditions on his permanent resident status by filing an I-829 petition with USCIS. When removing the conditions on permanent residence, investors must prove that they made the required investment and that all EB-5 requirements were satisfied such as job creation.
Once USCIS approves the I-829 petition, the applicant’s residency status is no longer conditional and the investor will be issued a 10 year green card.
EB-5 Direct Investments
EB-5 direct investments are those where the capital is invested in a new commercial enterprise such as a franchise operation, hotel real estate development projects, large restaurants, IT projects, retail chain operations, and large construction projects.
One of the most important components of the EB-5 application process is that you must be prepared to demonstrate the source/origin of your investment funds through documentary evidence. In other words, your investment funds must be traceable to their originating source.
The first step in the EB-5 process therefore involves document collection of your source of funds.
How long does this process take?
The processing timeline of EB-5 direct investment varies widely depends on your country of nationality. For instance, Indian nationals will experience much longer wait times than European nationals. This is due to the high demand for EB-5 visas and the annual numerical limitations set by Congress for such visas.
The good news is that recent legislative changes in the EB-5 program have allowed foreign investors lawfully residing in the United States to file the Form I-526 EB-5 petition at the same time as the Form I-485 petition for adjustment of status to permanent residence. This is known as concurrent filing of the EB-5 and green card petition, which gives investors the opportunity to apply for a work/travel permit while they await the processing of their EB-5 petition.
Another major advantage is that the investor’s dependents (spouse and unmarried children under age 21) can also apply for I-485 adjustment of status as derivative beneficiaries while in the United States.
Investment in a Targeted Employment Area – EB-5 Regional Center Projects
Investors may also qualify for the EB-5 program by investing at least $800,000 in a Regional Center project located in a Targeted Employment Area (a rural area or high unemployment area of the United States). Your capital investment must be committed to the project for at least five to seven years.
Regional Centers are authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to promote economic growth in the United States through job creation. Essentially, they are public or private entities that pool funds for large-scale projects by sourcing investment from numerous EB-5 investors for designated projects. Such projects may include investment in real estate development projects, construction of hotels, shopping centers, and more.
Instead of directly creating a new business or investing into an existing one, investors purchase equity stakes in an investment fund for a particular regional center, and indirectly fund the project that creates jobs for Americans.
One of the major advantages of Regional Center investments is that you do not have to be actively involved in the business and you can reside anywhere in the United States while your money is invested in the project.
Again, as with EB-5 direct investments, if you are lawfully residing in the United States, you can file Form I-526 EB-5 petition at the same time as the Form I-485 petition for adjustment of status to permanent residence. This will allow you apply for a work/travel permit while awaiting the processing of your EB-5 petition.
Your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under age 21) can also apply for I-485 adjustment of status as derivative beneficiaries while in the United States.
Option Two: Green Card through the National Interest Waiver
Another option is applying for a green card through the EB-2 National Interest Waiver. This is essentially a self-petition requesting a waiver of the labor certification (employment-sponsorship) requirement based on your work in a proposed field of expertise that is of national importance to the United States government. You do not need employment sponsorship or job offer to apply for a National Interest Waiver.
To qualify for a National Interest Waiver, you must demonstrate that:
- Your proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
- You are well positioned to advance your proposed endeavor.
- On balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the requirements of a job offer, and thus the labor certification.
These are known as the Dhanasar criteria.
In addition to meeting the Dhanasar elements, you must have an advanced degree OR exceptional ability in your field.
You may qualify for the National Interest Waiver if you possess an advanced degree or its foreign equivalent (Master’s degree, or if you do not have a Master’s degree – a bachelor’s degree, plus 5 years of post-baccalaureate progressively responsible work experience).
If a doctoral degree and/or U.S. license is customarily required to work in your proposed endeavor, then you must show that you possess such a degree, the foreign equivalent and/or license.
For example, if you are applying for a National Interest Waiver and you seek to work in the field of aviation, then you must be prepared to show that you maintain a pilot’s license issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
If you do not have an advanced degree, you may qualify for a National Interest Waiver if you can demonstrate your exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”
How do you show exceptional ability?
To demonstrate exceptional ability, you must provide evidence of at least three of the following criteria:
- Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
- Letters from current or former employers documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
- A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
- Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
- Membership in a professional association(s)
- Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
- Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.
Option Three: Green Card through EB-1A Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
The third option is applying for a green card through EB-1A as an alien of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics for aliens with sustained national or international acclaim. This is a self-petition for those who have reached the top of their field. You do not need an employment sponsorship or job offer to apply for EB-1A.
Extraordinary ability means that you are one of a small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of their field of endeavor. In other words, you must prove that you are the best of the best in your field of expertise.
How do you demonstrate extraordinary ability?
To demonstrate that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of expertise, you must either include evidence of a one-time achievement (major internationally recognized award) or meet at least 3 of the 10 listed criteria below (or comparable evidence if any of the criteria do not readily apply):
- Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
- Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
- Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
- Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
- Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
- Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
- Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
- Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
- Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts (if applicable)
Option Four: Green Card through EB-1C Multinational Managers or Executives
Finally, you may apply for a green card through the EB-1C category for multinational managers or executives.
The EB1C visa allows a foreign company to transfer managers or executives to a related U.S. company that has a U.S. subsidiary or affiliate. The U.S. company does not need to get an approved Labor Certification to hire the foreign worker. Instead, the US company can simply hire the foreign worker through a job offer.
You must have been employed outside the United States for at least 1 year in the last 3 years at the time the application for the EB1-C visa is filed. You must also prove that your duties working for the U.S. company will be managerial or executive in nature.
The most common applicants for EB-1C are those that already possess L-1A visas.
We hope that this information was helpful to you. If you would like to discuss the best options for you, please contact us for a consultation.
Contact Us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-569-1768 or call 619-819-9204.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
- EB-2 National Interest Waiver
- EB-1A Aliens of Extraordinary Ability
- EB-1C Multinational Managers or Executives
- December Visa Bulletin
- USCIS Adjustment of Status Filing Dates from Visa Bulletin
- U.S. Embassies and Consulates
- USCIS Announces End of COVID-Related Flexibilities
- USCIS Processing Times
- Immigrant Visa Backlog Report
- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
- ImmigrationU Membership
- Success stories
- Youtube channel
JOIN OUR NEW FACEBOOK GROUP
Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.
For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.