Investor Visas

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    We help foreign business owners and entrepreneurs to find and obtain the most appropriate visa for their situation. The United States has a number of visa programs that are specifically designed to enable foreign investors to obtain legal status in the United States. Depending on the nature of your business and the size of your investment, you may qualify for one of these visa programs. Even for investor or entrepreneurs who don’t qualify for any of these programs, there may be other options that allow you to come to the United States to pursue your business goals.

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    The EB-5 program is intended for immigrant investors. This is one key difference between the EB-5 and the E-2 visa program: the EB-5 visa program results in permanent residency (a “green card”) and a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

    To be eligible for the EB-5 program, an investor must invest at least $1 million (or $500,000 in some cases, if the investment is made in a qualified rural area or area with high unemployment rate, commonly referred to as a Targeted Employment Area) and must create at least 10 new jobs.

    The EB-5 program has quickly become very popular with wealthy individuals from around the world. A total of 10,000 EB-5 visas are available each year, and no more than 7% of those visas can be allocated to foreign nationals from any particular country. To maximize the likelihood that your visa is approved, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney in the earliest stages of your business planning.

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    E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

    The E-2 visa program is another popular visa program for those foreign nationals seeking to invest in the United States. Unlike the EB-5 program, however, the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa. This visa only provides for temporary legal status. Once the investor ceases to qualify for E-2 status, he or she must either leave the United States or seek another status or visa category.

    Another key difference between the E-2 visa and the EB-5 visa is that the E-2 visa is only available to individuals from countries with which the United States has entered into a qualifying treaty. (The U.S. Department of State maintains a current list of all these treaty countries.)

    If your home country has a qualifying treaty with the United States, you may be eligible for an E-2 investor visa if you make a “substantial” investment in an active commercial enterprise. The law does not specify the required investment amount, but the investor must demonstrate enough evidence to show that the invested amount is “substantial” for that particular type of business. As a rule of thumb, most E-2 investors should plan on investing $100,000 or more.

    E-1 Treaty Trader Visa

    The E-1 visa program is very similar to the E-2 treaty investor program. Investors from countries with a qualifying E-1 treaty can obtain an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa if their business engages in “substantial” trade between the United States and the treaty country.

    Many countries have established treaties both E-1 and E-2 treaties with the United States. However, this is not always the case. Before applying for either the E-1 or E-2 visa, it is important to verify that the appropriate treaty exists between the United States and the investor’s home country.

    What if I Don’t Qualify for Any of these Programs?

    For the entrepreneurially-minded business person or investor that doesn’t easily fit into one of these categories, there may be other options as well. U.S. immigration law provides a number of potential options, including both family and employment-based visa programs. For example, managers and executives who work in a foreign office may be able to transfer to an established or newly created U.S. location within the organization through an L-1 transferee visa. Individuals who have established an international reputation as having extraordinary ability in their field may be able to qualify for an O visa. Other visa programs may also apply to your specific situation.

    If you have questions about either of the investor visa programs or other ways that you may be able to establish your business in the United States, please contact the immigration and business planning attorneys at the Gunderson Law Group, P.C. We assist foreign nationals, business owners, and families with their immigration and business planning needs in Tempe, Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert and throughout Arizona the world.

    Contact Us Today To Speak With An Experienced Investor Visas Attorney

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