Are You Eligible for a Green Card Through Investment?
Green cards through investment are available to someone who invests a minimum of $1 million in creating a new U.S. business or restructuring or expanding one that already exists.
Where you got the money in the first place does not matter. Gifts and inheritances, for example, are fine. The key is that you obtained the money lawfully.
The required dollar amount of the investment may be reduced to $500,000 under certain circumstances, described in, “When $500,000 Is Enough to Get an Investment-Based Green Card (EB-5).“
USCIS also has the authority to require a greater amount of investment than $1million. This may occur when the investor chooses to locate the business in an area that’s doing well economically, with low unemployment. At present, USCIS policy is to not raise dollar investment requirements on this basis.
The business in which you invest must employ at least ten full-time workers (not counting independent contractors), produce a service or product, and benefit the U.S. economy. Full-time employment is defined as requiring at least 35 hours of service per week.
The investor, his or her spouse, and any children may not be counted among the ten employees. Other family members may be counted, however. The ten workers do not necessarily have to be U.S. citizens, but they must have more than a temporary (nonimmigrant) U.S. visa. Green card holders and any other foreign nationals who have the legal right to indefinitely live and work in the U.S. can all be counted toward the required ten.
It’s also important to realize that you won’t be able to send the money, sit back, and await your green card. The investor must be actively engaged in the company, either in a managerial or a policy-forming role. (See the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 204.6(j)(5).) Passive investments, such as land speculation, do not ordinarily qualify you for a green card in this category—except under a temporary program described in “When $500,000 Is Enough to Get an Investment-Based Green Card (EB-5)”.
The investment must be made in a new commercial enterprise. You can either create an original business, buy a business that was established after November 29, 1990, or buy a business and restructure or reorganize it so that a new business entity is formed.
There are two exceptions to the rule that the investment must be in a “new” commercial enterprise. The first exception is that you can buy an existing business and expand it. You would need to increase either the number of employees or the net worth of the business by at least 40%. You would also need to make the full required investment ($1 million or $500,000 depending on location) and you would still need to show that your investment created at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
The second exception to the “new” commercial enterprise rule is that you can buy a troubled business and save it from going under. To do this, you would need to show that the business has been around for at least two years and has had an annual loss of 20% of the company’s net worth at some point over the 24 months leading up to the purchase. You must still invest the full required amount, but you are not required to show that you created ten jobs. Instead, you would need to show that for two years from the date of purchase, you employed at least as many people as were employed at the time of the investment.