Foreign investors and entrepreneurs may be eligible to get a green card and eventually U.S. citizenship based of making an investment in the U.S. through the EB-5 visa. There are three main steps to this process.
STEP 1. UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS
In U.S. immigration law the process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. To naturalize to become a citizen, you must first get your green card (lawful permanent residence).
After you have your green card for a certain amount of time, and you satisfy the naturalization requirements, you can then apply to naturalize to become a citizen.
So when planning on getting citizenship to the United States based on an investment, the process is to first get your green card through an investment and then apply for citizenship once you’re eligible to do so.
STEP 2. DETERMINE WHICH VISA IS RIGHT FOR YOU (EB-5 Visa)
Now that you understand the process of getting U.S. citizenship, the next step is to determine which visa can allow you to get a green card through investment.
One of the best immigrant visas is the EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa is a special immigrant visa that allows someone to get a green card based on making an investment in a United States business.
The basic idea of the EB-5 visa, is that the U.S. has a policy interest in encouraging investment into the U.S. Additionally, the U.S. has a policy interest in strengthening the U.S. economy and creating jobs for U.S. workers. The EB-5 visa attempts to accomplish all of these interests.
EB-5 Visa Requirements
To qualify for an EB-5 visa, you must invest at least $1.8 million in a U.S. business. In some cases, you may be eligible to qualify for a reduced investment amount of $900,000 if the business you invest in is located in a rural area or an area experiencing high unemployment.
You can either invest in your own business, or you can invest in a large project called a regional center. If you invest in a regional center, the project will be managed by someone else.
In addition to investing into the business, another requirement to qualify for an EB-5 visa is that you must create jobs for U.S. workers. Specifically, your investment must lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
Another requirement for the EB-5 visa is that you must show that the money you are using to invest into the U.S. was obtained lawfully. The U.S. government wants to make sure that the money that you are investing, was not earned illegally. To show this, you will have to provide documentation proving how you earned the investment funds.
EB-5 Visa Process
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa category, this means that it leads to a green card (lawful permanent residence). A successful EB-5 applicant can apply for a green card for themselves, their spouse, and their unmarried children under 21 years old.
Conditional Green Card
To apply for an EB-5 visa the investor first files a Form I-526 with USCIS. Once the Form I-526 is approved and a visa number is available, the investor can either apply for an adjustment of status (if they are in the U.S.) or they can apply for an immigrant visa (if they are outside the U.S.).
After the adjustment of status is approved, or once the investor enters the United States on their immigrant visa, they are officially a conditional lawful permanent resident (conditional green card).
As a conditional lawful permanent resident, you basically have a green card with a 2-year expiration date.
Removal of Condition
As mentioned above, through the EB-5 visa process you first receive a conditional green card. However, you are eligible to apply to remove the condition from your green card after 21 months of having the conditional green card.
In order to remove the condition from your green card you must file a Form I-829 with USCIS. In addition, you must show that you have maintained your investment in the business and that you have created the 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
One your removal of condition application is approved, you then become an unconditional lawful permanent resident.
STEP 3. NATURALIZATION
The last step in this process is to apply for naturalization. As mentioned above, naturalization is the process of applying for citizenship.
There are multiple requirements to apply for naturalization:
- You must be at least 18 years old
- You must have your green card for at least 5 years (in some cases if someone is married to a U.S. citizen, they may be eligible to naturalize after 3 years instead of 5 years)
- You must have continuously resided in the U.S. over the last 5-year period
- You must have been physically present inside the U.S. for at least 2.5 years over the last 5 years
- You must have resided in the same state for the last 90 days prior to submitting your naturalization application
- You must be a person of good moral character
- You must be able to understand and speak English (exceptions available)
- You must have an understanding of U.S. history and government
- You must take an Oath of Allegiance
So there you have it, that is a general overview of how to get citizenship based on investment in the United States. As we discussed, the process first requires you to obtain a green card. Once you obtain a green card, then you can apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen once you satisfy the necessary requirements mentioned above.
Image source: Pexels.com
You may also like: 5 Essential Tips to Apply for a New Zealand Resident Visa