Business & Investment
E-2 VISAS (E2 IMMIGRATION VISAS)
- E-2 is a non-immigrant category which resembles lawful permanent residence status.
- E-2 visa holders do not have a green card but may engage in self-employment.
E-2 holders do not have to maintain ties to a home country and may remain in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time.
- E-2 applicants are required to possess the nationality of an approved treaty country. The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 receive the same visa classification.
- Spouses, but not children, may apply for work authorization and all of the family can attend school.
E-2 visas may be issued for investments in franchise businesses in the U.S. provided certain terms are properly structured between the franchisor and the franchisee.
Critical provisos involve:
- Financing, and
- The grant to the franchisee of sufficient control of the management of the franchise.
FRANCHISE ARE EXCELLENT E2 VISA BUSINESS OPTIONS.
The E-2 Visa allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business either as a start-up business or purchasing an existing business.
What is a substantial amount of capital in an E2 Visa investment?
A substantial amount of capital is:
Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor's financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.
The E2 Investment must be in a Bona Fide Enterprise:
A bona fide enterprise refers to a real, active and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit. It can refer to a start-up business that when running would meet the same criteria as an active operation. The business must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction.
EB-5 VISA PROGRAM
THE BASICS OF THE EB5 VISA PROGRAM
The U.S. Congress created the EB-5 visa category for alien entrepreneurs who invest in job creating commercial enterprises in America. In exchange for his or her investment, a foreign investor (and his or her family) can, aside from potentially getting a return on his investment, earn legal permanent resident status by way of a green card. Eventually, such an investor may elect to pursue U.S. citizenship. In return, the U.S. benefits from the injection of capital into the economy and real job are created and/or preserved.
The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) estimates that more than 90% of EB-5 investments are based on Regional Centers. A Regional Center is a private corporation or government agency designated by the U.S. government to allow foreign investors to invest capital in specifically defined local economies. A Regional Center assists foreign investors by professionally managing their investment in a designated business.
Regional Center investments have become an increasingly popular source of financing for U.S. developers and entrepreneurs. Since 2003, Regional Centers have invested over $3.1 billion of foreign capital in the U.S. economy resulting in the creation of some 65,000 jobs.
There is an annual allotment of 10,000 EB-5 green cards available each year. In 2007, 793 EB-5 visas were issued. In 2008, 1,443 were approved and 4,191 program-related visas were granted in 2009. Applications for approval to operate as a Regional Center have escalated in a similar manner.
EB-5 FOREIGN INVESTORS
Foreign investors, typically highly educated, successful business people with a global perspective, are motivated to invest in an EB-5 Regional Center for many reasons including:
THE EB-5 PROGRAM CAN PROVIDE A GREEN CARD FOR THE INVESTOR AND HIS OR HER FAMILY (IF CHILDREN ARE UNDER THE AGE OF 21 AND UNMARRIED).
WITH A GREEN CARD, THE EB5 FAMILY CAN LIVE ANYWHERE THEY CHOOSE IN THE U.S.
WITH A GREEN CARD, ANY FAMILY MEMBER OF AN EB5 INVESTOR CAN ATTEND ANY SCHOOL OF HIS OR HER CHOOSING. TUITION WOULD BE AT A U.S. CITIZEN RATE.
WITH A GREEN CARD, OVER TIME, AN EB5 HOLDER MAY ELECT TO PURSUE U.S. CITIZENSHIP.
EB-5 DIVERSIFICATION OF INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO.
YOUR EB-5 STATUS WILL ALLOW YOU TO EPAND BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES.
THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT THAT THE EB5 INVESTOR BE PRESENT AND ACTIVELY WORK IN THE BUSINESS DAY TO DAY.
The investment for foreign investors is $1,000,000 (US dollars) however, as an incentive to invest in rural areas and areas of high unemployment, an investment of $500,000 (US dollars) is permissible in properly designated geographical areas. The majority of Regional Centers are designed to incorporate such areas thereby allowing for an investment of $500,000 (US dollars).
The funds invested by each investor must create or save at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. An advantage of investing in a Regional Center is the regulations allow for the counting of indirect jobs. Direct jobs reflect employees on the new enterprise's payroll while indirect and induced jobs are positions traceable to the project's investment.
For more information about EB-5 business immigration services at Usher Law Firm, P.A., contact us at 352-509-5678 to schedule a free consultation with our EB5 visa lawyer.
FORMING AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER
FLORIDA BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Usher Law Firm assists developers achieve regional center designation from the USCIS. The process necessary to achieve regional center approval is complex, time consuming and requires expert guidance.
Attorney John Usher can provide regional center project oversight and coordinate the operational efforts necessary with economists, escrow agents, securities lawyers and business plan writers. He can recommend specific professionals well versed in the nuances of developing a regional center.
HOW TO START AN EB-5 REGIONAL CENTER
Developing a regional center starts by defining the vision. Changes to the structure of a regional center after submission to USCIS can lead to extensive, expensive delays and may also negatively impact the foreign investor's quest to receive a green card.
Key Components to an EB-5 Regional Center
Type of Regional Center
Regional Centers have been described as having either a loan structure or an equity structure. It's important to understand the difference because of the requirements surrounding the tracking of investor funds and specific jobs creation.
The designation of a specific, contiguous geographic area is a requirement. Additionally, to take advantage of the opportunity to invest $500,000 (as opposed to $1,000,000), thought has to be given to being in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).
The importance of economics cannot be understated as the regional center designation is being pursued. It is necessary to skillfully define the economic activity (or activities) the regional center undertakes since later changes can derail the entire application.
Complete detailed business plans related to the investment(s) need to be developed.
Regional Center Entity
The Regional Center itself has to create a legal structure and be properly capitalized.
After learning about the proposed plans of an entrepreneur considering the creation of a regional center, Usher Law Firm can provide a fee quote.
EB-5 INFORMATION FOR THE IMMIGRANT INVESTOR
Usher Law Firm can guide immigrants through the EB-5 process. While earning the benefits of a green card for themselves and their family is certainly the primary motivation for many, it doesn't matter what language a person speaks, nobody likes to lose money.
USCIS At Risk Rule
The USCIS requires that investor's money be “at risk.” Essentially, a regional center can't guarantee financial results. Because of this requirement and the fact that the types and numbers of EB-5 are becoming so large, it's more critical than ever that an immigrant critically evaluate his investment options.
Usher Law Firm can recommend business analysis experts and can assist you with due diligence efforts.
Once an EB-5 partner has been selected, funds are assembled and documentation is collected to meet the obligation of proving to the USCIS that the money has been legally accumulated.
You Selected the EB-5 Regional Center. What is Next?
After the investment is made, typically through an escrow account, the green card acquisition process is initiated by the filing of a petition with USCIS (I-526).
After petition approval, the investor will either
1. adjust to conditional resident status if they are here in the U.S. at that time or
2. if they are outside the U.S. they will attend a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in their home country.
Temporary Green Card with an EB-5 Regional Center
Once given conditional resident status (a temporary green card), the investor can enter the U.S. and enjoy all the benefits associated with a green card including travel in and out of the U.S. Just prior to two years expires from the time after the conditional green card was issued, the immigrant applies for removal of conditions by filing with the USCIS an I-829. With the conditions removed, the holder receives a full green card good for indefinite permanent resident status. After having the unconditional green card for five years, the immigrant may apply for U.S. citizenship.
Usher Law Firm can help foreign investors with all aspects of participating in the EB-5 visa program.
THE L-1 (L1) VISA PROGRAM
LET OUR BUSINESS IMMIGRATION LAWYER OBTAIN YOUR L-1 VISA
L-1 visas are available to employees of an international company with offices in both the U.S. and a country abroad. The U.S. employer and the foreign employer must have certain formal legal relationships acceptable to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If properly structured, an employee of the foreign business may be eligible for an l-1 visa. It is possible to obtain an l-1 classification for qualifying individuals if the foreign company intends to open an affiliated office in the U.S.
There are 2 types of L-1 Visas
L-1A are for executives and managers
L-1B visas are reserved for workers with specialized knowledge.
For a “regular” L-1 visa, the company files a petition with USCIS and each petition is evaluated on its own merits.
With a “blanket” L-1 visa, USCIS has already determined a company qualifies for it's employees to be eligible for a visa thereby simplifying the process.
Transferred employees may be accompanied their spouse and unmarried children who are under the age of 21.
Spouses can be legally employed in the U.S. after they obtain Employment Authorization approval from USCIS.