U.S. Immigration Through Investment

Entrepreneurs who make a substantial investment in a commercial business venture within the United States, along with their spouses and children, may be eligible to apply for permanent residence (a Green Card), by seeking an EB-5 immigrant investor visa.

Up to ten thousand  EB-5 visas may be issued each year to eligible entrepreneurs and members of their families.

Qualifying for Immigration Through Investment

In order to qualify for immigration through investment, the entrepreneur must:

  • Plan to create or preserve at least ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers,

  • Have a net worth sufficient to establish their ability to make the investment,

  • Make the investment through lawfully obtained funds, and

    • Invest one million dollars ($1,000,000) in a business, or

    • Invest at least five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000 in a targeted employment area (that is, a high unemployment or rural area).

Investment may involve the creation of a new business, or may involve investment in an existing business.

The key to EB-5 eligibility is to be able to establish that ten or more jobs are actually created, directly or indirectly, as a result of the applicant's investment in the commercial enterprise. Depending upon the nature of the investment, the investor may also be required to document active participation in the business.

Obtaining a Visa as an Investor

An investor who holds EB-5 status may apply to become a conditional permanent resident.

  • An investor who is within the United States may file USCIS Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur). Once the Form I-526 is approved and a visa number becomes available, the applicant may apply for conditional permanent residence (Form I-485) or petition to adjust status.
  • If the investor is living outside of the United States, the investor can file form I-526 and, once it is approved, become a permanent resident through consular processing.

An investor's spouse and unmarried children under the age of twenty-one may be included on the immigration petition. If the spouse and qualifying children reside within the United States, they will need to file a form I-485.

For the first two years after the visa is granted, the investor's permanent resident status is conditional. During that two year period, the investor must demonstrate that the business is up and running and is sustainable. Ninety days before the end of that two year period, the conditional resident must file Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) with the USCIS.

Work and Travel Authorization

Once an applicant has a Form I-485 pending with the USCIS, the applicant may petition the USCIS to grant employment authorization (EAD) by submitting Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization).

If the applicant needs to travel internationally while the I-485 is pending, the applicant may seek advance parole (permission to depart from and to reenter the United States) by submitting Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document).

Copyright © 2015 Aaron Larson, All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be reproduced without the express written permission of the copyright holder. If you use a quotation, excerpt or paraphrase of this article, except as otherwise authorized in writing by the author of the article you must cite this article as a source for your work and include a link back to the original article from any online materials that incorporate or are derived from the content of this article.

This article was last reviewed or amended on May 7, 2018.