By Sabine Weyergraf – www.weyergrafimmigration.com
The goal for most immigrants is gaining permanent residency with a Green Card. If that is the case for you, the question is how to achieve this goal?
The most common answer is, by marriage. Marriage to a U.S. Citizen is certainly an option, as long as it is a real marriage. However, for a married couple who want to jointly immigrate to the United States, this is not an option. You might want to explore the alternatives. Generally, the alternatives are two non-immigrant visas, an L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa or an E-2 Investor Visa, or the “purchase” of a green card by making the significant investment of $500,000 to $1 million in a company.
The L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa permits the transfer of a Manager, which can certainly be the owner, of an overseas company to a subsidiary or affiliate in the United States. The requirements are: a) the transferred employee has been in a manager or executive position in the overseas company for at least one year, b) the U.S. company is a subsidiary or affiliate of the overseas company, and c) the U.S. company is a large enough operation that it will need to hire U.S. workers.
The overseas company and its U.S. affiliate or subsidiary do not have to be engaged in the same business activity and there is not a requirement for a set amount of money that must be invested.
However, the overseas company has to remain operational 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 receive more than an initial one year visa approval, 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 an U.S. company.
In order to apply for an E-2 Visa, the U.S. business investment needs to have already taken place. That means, either the purchase contract for an existing business with the purchase price in escrow or establishing your own start-up business. In the event you choose to purchase an existing business, it is important that the business already has employees. If a new business is established, the investor must show that the business has the potential to need U.S. workers and that the investor has already begun to look for qualified employees.
As previously said, the L-1 and E-2 are temporary non-immigrant visas. Then what is the process that moves you from temporary to permanent status.
If your U.S. company (affiliate or subsidiary) becomes well established, meaning it is profitable and providing employment for U.S. workers and your overseas company is also still operating, you can apply for a Multinational Manager Green Card. Your ability to apply 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, it only matters 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 have employees. The L-1 visa is not a necessity to receive a Multinational Manager Green Card.
However, if you closed your business overseas, you cannot apply for a Multinational Manager Green Card.
If you do not want to first apply for an L-1 or E-2 and prefer to go straight for the 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 either in the establishment of your own U.S. company or the investment in a Regional Center. $500,000 is sufficient if you invest in a designated rural or high unemployment area; investing in any other location will require an investment of $1 Million.
A Regional Center is basically an administration 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 you will need 1 Million Dollars readily available as the investment must be made in full. Income or expenses of an existing U.S. business cannot be used to prove the investment of 1 Million Dollars. After this investment is done, you receive a conditional residency for two years. Within these two years either your project at the regional center or your own company has to create ten full-time jobs. If you can show these jobs, then you will receive your permanent residency.
Sabine Weyergraf is founding partner and New York licensed attorney practicing solely immigration law with Weyergraf Immigration, PA in Sarasota, Florida.
This article is provided for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice.