The only true investment-related immigration visa is the EB-5, which stands for Employment-Based fifth preference.
The previous preferences are for skilled laborers, graduates, foreigners who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, etc.
The EB-5 Visa Program was created in 1990 under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), with the purpose of stimulating the economy and creating employment.
Basically, it provides a path for obtaining resident alien status, and eventually citizenship, by investing in the USA.
Like all visas, EB-5 is regulated by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), formerly INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services).
Requirements for an EB-5 are difficult.
The foreign investor must invest the following minimum amounts:
- $1,000,000 in a qualifying commercial enterprise.
- $500,000 in a "targeted employment area" (TEA)
The investor has to understand that his investment is entirely at risk.
There are no guarantees that he will get his money back, or the U.S. person status if the investment fails.
Also, the granting of a visa does not guarantee admittance into the U.S.
It only allows the alien to travel to a U.S. POE (Point of Entry), and the final decision rests with the immigration officer.
This is why investment money is generally placed in an escrow account and only disbursed upon the granting of a conditional visa.
A conditional visa is only valid for two years in which the investor has to show that the firm is in good standing and the jobs have been created.
Conditional visas as permanent residents can also be issued to the investor's spouse and children under 21.
If everything is according to regulations, the investor and his family will receive the U.S. person status as a permanent resident alien in two years.
After five years of complying with all regulations, the investor and his family can apply for U.S. citizenship and can petition to bring the rest of their family to their country.