Obtaining a Green Card Through Investment


One avenue through which permanent residence may be obtained is investment in the United States. Green cards for investors are limited to 10,000 a year with 3,000 set aside for persons who invest in areas with high unemployment. Only the investor himself, and not accompanying relatives, if any, are counted against the quota. Despite the numerical limitation imposed, green cards are generally available to all qualified applicants.

An applicant is considered to be qualified if he/she invests a minimum of $1 million in creating a new business or expanding an existing business in the United States. Investment need not solely be comprised of cash. Certificates of deposit, loans, and notes may be considered in determining whether the requisite level of investment is satisfied. In certain cases, borrowed funds may also be considered to determine whether the minimum amount of investment has been reached. The amount of investment required may be reduced to $500,000.00 if the geographical area in which investment is made is considered to be one with high unemployment. Usually, classification of an area as one of high unemployment is left to the State government.

In addition, the business in which investment is made must employ at least ten full-time American workers. An investor is given up to two (2) years to create the jobs. The investor, his/her spouse, and children may not be counted to meet the ten-person requirement. The workers may be U.S. Citizens, permanent residents, and/or refugees.

Obtaining a green card through investment is two-step process. In the first step, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur (Form I-526) must be filed. The investor must demonstrate through the petition that he/she has satisfied or is in the process of satisfying the requirements mentioned hereinabove. Normally, a decision on the petition is made by the USCIS within three months and does not involve an interview of the petitioner.

Once the petition is approved, the investor can proceed to step two of the process—the filing of the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485). The application may be filed either at the United States Consulate at his/her home country or last place of residence, or in the United States (if one is physically present in the United States). Certain advantages and disadvantages exist for both consular and U.S. filing that cannot be fully explored in this article due to space limitations.

A green card for an investor is first issued conditionally for two years. After two years, the investor must file a petition to remove the conditions. In deciding whether or not to remove the conditions, the USCIS will inquire as to whether the proposed investments have actually been made. An investor who is married and has children under the age of 21 can also obtain green cards for his/her spouse and children as accompanying relatives. They are first issued conditional green cards, with conditions removed only when conditions on the investor’s green card are removed. If you are an alien entrepreneur, obtaining a green card through investment may be a viable option.

Please note that this article is not legal advice and is not intended as legal advice. The article is intended to provide only general, non-specific legal information. This article is not intended to cover all the issues related to the topic discussed. The specific facts that apply to your matter may make the outcome different than would be anticipated by you. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Kenneth U. Reyes, P.C. This article is not a solicitation.

Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association for 2005. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Reyes is a Certified Family Law Specialist. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive former CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail kureyeslaw@gmail.com; visit at www.kenreyeslaw.com

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