By Sabine Weyergraf – www.weyergrafimmigration.com
The ultimate goal for many immigrants is permanent residency via the Green Card. The question is: how does one achieve this goal?
The most common answer to this question is by marriage. Marriage to a U.S. Citizen certainly is an option, but it must be a real marriage.
Married couples who would like to jointly immigrate to the United States do not have this option. However, there are some alternatives. The alternatives are in general two non-immigrant visas, an L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa and an E-2 Investor Visa or an Immigrant Visa through the “purchase” of a green card.
The L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa permits the transfer of a Manager of an overseas company to a subsidiary or affiliate in the United States. The manager can also be the owner of this company. The requirements are: a) that the transferred employee has been in a managerial or executive position in the overseas company for at least one year, b) that the U.S. company is a subsidiary or an affiliate of the overseas company, and c) that the U.S. company has a large enough operation that it will be necessary to hire U.S. workers.
Interestingly enough, the U.S. company does not have to have the same business activity as the overseas company. Also, there is no requirement to invest a set amount of money.
However, the overseas company has to remain operative during the entire visa validity. The L-1 Visa for a start-up company will be issued for one year with the option of renewal for three years and then another three years. The renewal of an L-1 Visa requires a significant number of employees.
For people who do not operate an overseas business or would like to get a Visa that is valid for more than one year, the E-2 Investor Visa is a viable option. In general, the E-2 Visa requires an investment of around $100,000 into the establishment of a U.S. company.
In order to apply for an E-2 Visa by owning a U.S. business, the investment has to have been made prior to submitting the Visa request. The investor must either have a purchase contract for an existing business with the purchase price in escrow or invest $100,000 into a new business with the potential for growth. If the investor uses the purchase of an existing business to qualify for an E-2 Visa, the business must already have employees. If the investor creates his own new company, he or she has to show that the business has the potential to employ U.S. workers and that the investor has already begun a search for employees.
As previously stated, the L-1 and E-2 are temporary non-immigrant Visas. Now the question is how does an L-1 or E-2 Visa holder qualify to stay permanently in the United States?
If your U.S. company is well established, profitable and providing employment for U.S. workers and your overseas company is still operating, then you can apply for a Multinational Manager Green Card. This type of Green Card is based on the fact that you are managing two companies in two different countries which both have employees.
For the Multinational Manager Green Card, it does not matter if you are in L-1 or E-2 status. The requirements are that you are managing two different companies in two different countries, you worked for the overseas company for at least one year before coming to the United States, and both companies currently have employees. It is not a necessity to hold an L-1 Visa in order to receive a Multinational Manager Green Card. However, if you closed your overseas business, you cannot apply for a Multinational Manager Green Card.
If you do not want to pursue an L-1 or E-2 Visa and prefer to go straight to permanent residency, then you can “purchase” a green card. This is the EB-5 program. This requires the investment of $500,000 to 1 Million Dollars either in the establishment of your own U.S. company or in the investment of a Regional Center. The amount of $500,000 is sufficient if invested in a designated rural or high unemployment area. If you choose to invest anywhere else, the minimum amount of investment is 1 Million Dollars.
A Regional Center is basically an administrative company that collects money from foreign investors and then invests it in designated projects, such as the build out of an airport, a solar field, housing or farms.
If you would like to invest in your own company, then 1 Million Dollars is necessary to qualify. Income or expenses of an existing U.S. business cannot be used as proof toward the 1 Million Dollar investment. There must be a clear paper trail showing the investor is putting $1 million of his own money into a U.S. based business.
After the respective investment is completed, you receive conditional residency for two years. By the end of these two years, your project at the Regional Center or your own company is required to have created at least ten full time jobs. If you can prove these jobs are real and ongoing, you will receive your permanent residency.
These are just three ways to qualify for permanent residency. Other ways get a green card include the Green Card Lottery, receiving a job offer from a U.S. company or by showing and documenting extraordinary abilities in the arts or other specialized fields.
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This article is provided for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.