Living in the US by getting the right visa

 

If you are a citizen of a foreign country who would like to live in the US, one of the easiest ways to do this is to get a visa by purchasing an existing US business. And there is nowhere more enjoyable to live and work than Florida.

But because visas have specific requirements, such as your country of origin and the number of people your business employs, it is important to have a complete understanding of what you need in order to qualify.

Although there are two versions of EB-5 visas, the most common one used is a good fit for individuals with a large amount of capital to invest and who prefer to be passive investors. E-2 visas may work better for an individual who lives in a country that has a treaty with the US and who wishes to actively engage in running the business. For those who own a business but do not live in a treaty country, an L-1 visa may be a better fit.

Which visa is right for you?

A retiree who enjoys frequent international travel will have different considerations than someone who has school-aged children and wishes to save money for their college funds.

The final decision should be made between you and your immigration attorney, but if you are just getting started, it helps to have a general overview of the available visas.

Comparison of visas commonly used by foreign investors:

 

EB-5 E-2 L-1
Investment Required $900,000 or $1,800,000, Depending on Location “Substantial” Amount, Typically ≥ $150,000 Not Specifically Stated, But Typically ≥ $100,000
Maximum Length of Stay Unlimited Lengths of Stay of up to 2 Years first time, with Unlimited 5 Year Renewals Up to 5 or 7 Years, depending on the Visa
Required Control of Business No > 50% > 50%
Requires Treaty Between Country of Origin and US No Yes
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No
Can Spouse and Children Enter US? Spouse, yes. Children under 21 Spouse, yes. Children under 21 Spouse, yes. Children under 21
Can Spouse work? Yes Yes Yes
Are Physical Premises Required? NO Yes Yes
How Many Full-Time US Workers Required? 10 by the end of the second year. The employment is created by the Regional Center and can be direct or indirect ( according to a mathematical formula approved by USCIS) Managerial/Supervisory (usually 2 to 4) Managerial/Supervisory or Specialized Skill (Usually 4 to 10)
What Role is Required for Investor? Investment only, or Active Manager, depending on type Managerial/Supervisory Managerial/Supervisory or Specialized Skill
Requires Established Business in Country of Origin? No No Yes
Requires at Least One Year of Experience Working as a Manager, Executive or Specialty Employee in Established Business in Country of Origin? No No Yes
Is Your Investment “at Risk”? Yes Yes Yes
Is There Process to Become a Permanent Resident? Yes, gives conditional Green Card for two years before converting to a permanent one; Investor may apply for naturalization No, but there may be other paths to accomplish this; consult an immigration attorney Yes, may apply for Green Card

Questions regarding visas?

Contact us if you don’t see a visa that fits your needs. There are other visas (such as the O Visa) that are not as commonly used but may work for your situation.

We hope that you find this overview of visa options for owning US businesses helpful. Please be aware that the information provided on this website is for reference only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a US immigration attorney.

We are happy to help you to find the right Florida business to fit your needs and can also recommend qualified immigration attorneys to give you specific guidance on your course of action.

Please consult an Immigration Attorney to see what applies in your specific situation. Edited by Grant Kaplan principal of The Immigration Law Office of Grant Kaplan www.american-immigration-lawyer.com  or contact him at grant@gkaplanlaw.com.