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Business Immigration FAQ – USA

If you are considering immigration to the United States, it’s understandable for you to have a number of questions about the process.

To help with some of the questions you might be asking, we have collected the following list of FAQs along with their answers. If your question is not listed here, or if you would like to discuss your situation in greater detail with a member of our team, feel free to call us today at (305) 509-6400.

Is an EB-5 visa right for me?

The EB-5 visa provides a number of distinct benefits to immigrant investors, including fast processing times and limited requirements for investors in terms of age, English proficiency, and work / educational experience. However, this option is not right for every person or family. Discussing your specific situation with the experienced immigration attorneys at AmLaw Group can help you evaluate the immigration options available to you and determine which is best for your family.

How much does it cost to take advantage of the Immigrant Investor Program?

For individuals investing in a designated “targeted employment area,” usually through an approved Regional Center, the minimum investment for the EB-5 visa program is $500,000. However, for those not investing in a targeted employment area, the minimum investment is $1,000,000.

How long will the EB-5 visa process take?

While every filing has the potential to be different, in the vast majority of cases, the EB-5 visa process can be completed in less than one year. This is one of the main benefits of this particular visa option for those looking to live and work in the U.S.

What is a Regional Center?

Regional Centers are pre-approved organizations that help facilitate the money from EB-5 investors into investment projects, resulting in both direct and indirect job creation. For many, investing in a Regional Center is an easier option than creating a new business, and in some regions, the financial requirements for filing an EB-5 visa are less if investing through a Regional Center than if an applicant were to start a new business.

How many EB-5 visas are issued every year?

Every fiscal year, which runs from October 1st to September 30th, the U.S. sets aside 10,000 visa numbers to individuals who apply through the immigrant investor program. However, there is an annual per-country limit that applies to EB-5 visas, so only 7% of EB-5 visas issued in a fiscal year can be granted to citizens of the same country.

Why are certain places designated as “targeted employment area”?

Any geographic area that has an unemployment rate that is at least 150% of the national average may be designated as a targeted employment area.  Every individual state possesses the authority to designate a geographically limited area as a targeted employment area for the purposes of the EB-5 visa.  The investments that go into these communities are intended to create economic opportunity in areas where little to no other opportunity exists for people who want to enter the workforce.

How long will my green card be valid after successfully applying for an EB-5 visa?

As part of your EB-5 visa, you will be granted a two-year, conditional green card so that you may establish yourself in the United States.  Before those two years elapse, you must submit a petition with the Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to confirm that your investment has actually been made and that you have directly or indirectly created at least 10 jobs with that investment.  If you have not invested in a regional center, you must be able to prove that you have directly created those 10 jobs.

What does it mean to be an employee with “specialized knowledge”?

The L-1 visa allows employees of foreign companies with “specialized knowledge” to enter the United States to work for a related U.S. company.  The USCIS defines this term as any kind of special knowledge regarding the foreign company’s services, research, management, products, or virtually any of its other interests as applied in the international marketplace.  This specialized knowledge may extend to any expertise of advanced knowledge in the procedures and processes of the foreign company.

What is a conditional green card?

This is what will allow you to live and manage your business in the United States until you are able to demonstrate that you have met all of the USCIS conditions for an EB-5 visa. Once you can show that all of your investment has been made and that you have created at least ten jobs that are still existent, you will be able to petition to remove the condition on your residency and obtain a permanent green card.

How many jobs need to be created with an EB-5 investment?

Generally speaking, at least 10 jobs need to be created or maintained within the two-year period of your conditional residency. These jobs must be considered full-time jobs—employees must work at least 35 hours a week—and must be filled by qualified employees—including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and other people who have been authorized by the USCIS to work in the U.S. It should be noted that any immediate family members that are employed in the business will not count towards the number of jobs that need to be generated.

What is considered to be a new commercial enterprise?

Investors will be able to create a new commercial enterprise through one of three means: 1) by creating a brand-new, original business; 2) by purchasing an existing business that they ultimately reorganize or restructure so that it may become an entirely new enterprise; or 3) by purchasing an existing business and expanding it so that it grows to 140% of its pre-investment net worth.

What are the benefits of investing in a Regional Center?

For many people looking to move to the United States on an EB-5 visa, investing in an established Regional Center is a more attractive option than starting their own business. By investing in a Regional Center, individuals may be able to secure an EB-5 visa with just a $500,000 investment, rather than a $1,000,000 investment (this is due to the fact that most Regional Centers are located in targeted employment areas). Additionally, since a person will be investing in an established organization, investors will likely have a less hands-on role in the company compared to their role if they were to create their own business.

What will the USCIS consider to be a “troubled business”?

To be considered a “troubled business” by the USCIS for the purposes of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, the following two conditions must be satisfied: 1) the target company must have been in existence for at least two years; and 2) the business must have lost at least 20% of its previous net worth over the 12 to 24 months prior to the investors application for the EB-5 visa. It is worth noting that, unlike other EB-5 options, investors are only required to preserve jobs in a troubled business, rather than create them.

Will I be able to bring my family with me?

If you are allowed to enter the United States as a conditional permanent resident—for instance, you will only have conditional permanent residency for two years if you obtain an EB-5 visa—you will be able to bring your immediate family along with you. That means that your spouse and your children—provided they are under the age of 21 and unmarried—may enter the U.S. under a derivative status of your green card. Since they will be considered lawful permanent residents, spouses and children may work and attend schools once they are in the United States.

How do I attain permanent residency status with the EB-5?

In order to become a permanent resident of the United States, it will be necessary to remove the conditions on your conditional permanent residency. To achieve this, investors must prove that they have satisfied all of the conditions of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program to the USCIS when they file a petition to remove the conditions on their visa. All the technical aspects that your attorney can help you work through aside, investors will be considered a permanent resident of the United States once this legal process with the USCIS is completed.

How long will it take my family’s conditional green card to arrive so we can enter the U.S.?

Usually, an eight-month period is the average for adjudication. Your home country location may play a factor in that estimate, and Requests for Additional Evidence (RFEs) may add time to your case by a couple of months. Every case is different, and while some may receive their conditional green card in just a couple of months, others may have to wait over a year.

Can my parents receive green cards if I invest in the EB-5 program?

No. The EB-5 program does not consider your parents to be your immediate family. Your spouse and any children under 21 years of age may obtain a green card because of your investment. However, once you legally become a permanent resident, you may then petition for your parents or children over 21 years of age to enter the country.

If my EB-5 application is approved and I decide against investing, will I lose my money?

When your EB-5 application is approved, your investment is released from escrow. After the release of your money, it is incredibly difficult for you as an investor to withdraw your money. If you remove your money before reaching the two-year requirement, your temporary green card will end. So, while you may withdraw your money, you will likely suffer monetary losses as a result.

Is speaking English a requirement to apply for a green card?

English fluency is not needed, however basic understanding is required for citizenship. Some applicants are exempt from satisfying the English requirement if they are of a certain age, have had permanent residency before, or can simply take a history test. An attorney can help you understand if you meet any requirements or discuss any disabilities you may have.

What are some reasons individuals are deported?

There are many ways someone can be deported, or sent back to their home country. The main reason is not having a legal right to have entered the country in the first place. However, those with green cards can still be deported if they stay in the U.S. with an expired green card, fail to obey the terms of their visa, commit severe crimes, or do not follow USCIS change of address requirements.

Can EB-Visas be issued to individuals from any country?

Yes, a person from any country can apply for an EB-5 Visa in the U.S. Of course, not everyone is qualified and must have reliable documentation in order to apply. Someone cannot legally be denied approval solely based on country of origin. Nonetheless, attaining permanent residency requires a serious financial and time commitment for those interested in applying in the EB-5 program.

What can revoke my visa?

Acquiring a valid visa is a difficult task for many foreigners today and once a visa is granted most travelers do everything possible to not have it revoked. Unsurprisingly, any visa can be revoked if the terms of the visa which explicitly state the length of stay, occupation, and rights of the recipient are violated. A visa will also be revoked if the applicant is found to have lied or falsified any documents pertaining to the visa. Furthermore, if a visa holder is found to have been implicated in any criminal activity, such as a DUI, the Department of State has the ability to revoke a visa.

Do I have to reside in the state that my EB-5 investment is in?

Depending on the type of EB-5 investment, a visa applicant does not necessarily have to live where their investment lies. EB-5 regional centers allow for many foreign investors to pool their EB-5 investments together in a central location. With regional center investments, an investor does not have to reside in the same state as the investment. However, direct EB-5 investments require that the investor have executive or influential control over the business and, as a result, the investor may have to live near their investment.

If I only hold a green card and have a child in the United States, will my child be granted citizenship?

Section one of the fourteenth amendment states that all people born in the United States are citizens of the nation and the state they reside in. Consequently, children of immigrants who are born in the country and are currently residing under a work, student, or temporary visa also qualify for citizenship. Once these children reach 21 years of age, they are then able to sponsor their parents as “immediate relatives” to help them obtain green cards.

What types of funds qualify for investment in the EB-5 visa program?

In order to qualify for the EB-5 visa program, the minimum investment you must provide is $500,000. You also must prove that the funds are coming from an eligible source to obtain your visa. Applicant information is verified after applicants provide certain types of documentation, but individual cases may vary depending on monetary circumstances. Types of information that you must provide to legitimize your funds include proof of ownership of a business, salary statements, and bank statements. If you want to learn more about your financial situation and qualifications, consider contacting a lawyer.

What information is required to qualify for an EB-5 visa?

Apart from proving financial validity, there are certain credentials one must meet to qualify for the EB-5 visa program. You can obtain an EB-5 visa either by investing in a regional center or by creating your own business. Providing evidence of your assets and eligibility is an essential part of joining the EB-5 visa program. You must have 1) USCIS petitions 2) Geographical statistics/business plans 3) Criminal and Medical Documentation. Investors may also ask for additional documentation depending on the case.

Why are some EB-5 visa applications rejected?

Usually an EB-5 visa application will be rejected or delayed because of illegal investment funds or inability to prove that financial assets are legitimate. Often the documents submitted simply do not comply with USCIS requirements and must be reevaluated to qualify. It is important to note that English proficiency is not required in order to apply. There is no guarantee that the applicant will be issued an EB-5 visa, even if they meet all the posted qualifications. Contacting an attorney to help you through the application process can minimize any application mistakes or complications.

How Do I Determine if I qualify for a H-1B Visa?

H-1B visas are issued so that American companies can hire foreign workers with unique or scarce expertise. These workers must meet several requirements and be deemed a skilled worker, some of which include obtaining either a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience and holding certification in their respected fields.

What is considered a “skilled worker”?

Many employment visas require the applicant to be deemed a ‘skilled worker’ to qualify. According to the USCIS, to be classified as a ‘skilled worker,’ 3 conditions must be met. The applicant must have a Bachelor’s degree, or higher, or its equivalent as a minimum for the particular position; the position the applicant holds is so complex or unique it can only be performed by someone with a college degree or its equivalent; and the field an immigrant is applying for typically requires a degree or its equivalent for the position.

What are the Differences in H-1B and EB-2 Visas?

Both H-1B and EB-2 visas allow for specialized workers with significant experience in their field to come work in the United States. However, the EB-2 visa is an immigration process where at the end of a specified period the applicant can receive his or her green card. Consult an immigration attorney today to see which visa may be best for you.

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