How to Live the American Dream

WANT A GREEN CARD? INVEST IN PROPERTY
 
Created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the local economy, through job creation, by immigrant investors, the EB-5 Regional Centre Programme offers citizens of other countries the opportunity to qualify for permanent US residency (a “green card”). There are 10,000 EB-5 immigrant visas available annually, of which 3,000 are set aside for foreign nationals, who invest in Regional Centres, designated by USCIS, based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
 
“Each EB-5 investor must create ten direct or indirect permanent jobs for US workers, in order to obtain a green card,” explains Lisa Czepek, Client Advisor at leading citizenship planning firm, Henley & Partners. “Investments in ‘targeted employment areas’ (rural or geographical areas that have experienced unemployment at a rate of at least 150% the national average rate), qualify with a minimum of USD 500,000. For investments in areas other than ‘targeted employment areas’, the minimum amount of investment is USD 1 million.”
 
To date, the largest EB-5 investment into one project is the USD 20 billion Hudson Yards development, on Manhattan’s West Side, which has already received funding to the tune of USD 600 million, from 1,200 (mainly Chinese) investors. With Phase 1 of the project already fully subscribed and all conditional green cards issued, work has now begun on 15 Hudson Yards, the first residential tower at the 28-acre mixed-use development, which is due for completion next year.
 
Czepek explains that there are no language, business, or educational requirements for EB-5 Visa applicants and that the investor, his or her spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 (including adopted children), are eligible to apply for a green card through the programme. “Green card holders are free to travel in and out of the United States, subject to the rules generally applicable to permanent residents,” she says, noting that they must maintain a residence in the United States and must not be outside the country for a continuous period of one year or more, unless they have obtained a re-entry permit.
 
GRENADA: ANOTHER ROUTE TO THE US
 
A Grenadian passport comes with a number of benefits, such as visa-free travel to over 124 countries worldwide, including the UK and Schengen area, and China. But most attractive for those seeking entry to the US, is the fact that the Caribbean island nation holds an E2 Investor Visa treaty with that country. This treaty offers Grenadian citizens and their families the opportunity to reside, work and study in the USA, in return for a US business investment.
 
Czepek explains: “The E2 visa from the USA is not open to every country. However, by investing first in Grenada and gaining Grenadan citizenship through its citizenship-by-investment programme, investors can then apply for an E2 visa. The E2 visa lasts initially for five years and can then be easily renewed every subsequent five years, provided the holder complies with the visa rules.”
 
To obtain an E2 visa, applicants must make a “significant investment” into a US business. “‘Significant’ meaning at least a 50% interest and the business investment can be a simple USD 150,000 franchise, for example,” she says.
 
“Unlike the EB-5 (green card) programme, E2 visa holders do not have to reside for long periods of time in the US, so they do not automatically become US tax payers, and in certain circumstances, do not need to become such.”
 
She adds: “Both the E2 Visa Treaty and its visa-free access to China (Grenada is the only Caribbean citizenship-by-investment country which offers both) are a major lure for foreign entrepreneurs and businesspeople. That is, if the white sandy beaches and crystal waters of the Caribbean don’t get to them first!”
 
EB-5 v E2
 

EB-5 INVESTOR VISA

E2 INVESTOR VISA

Grants immigrant visa status in US Grants non-immigrant visa status in US
US permanent residence or green card No permanent residence or green card
• Path to US citizenship in 6 years No path to US citizenship
Must satisfy residency requirements living in the US No residency requirements. Enter and exit US any time and can stay outside US indefinitely
Processing time: 12-18 months Processing times: 60 days
Requires minimum USD 500,000 business investment No minimum investment ceiling. Investments in business can be as low as USD 50,000, or even less
Must create at least 10 full-time jobs through employment of US citizens No requirement to employ or create jobs
Must pay US taxes on worldwide income There are ways to avoid paying US taxes on worldwide income
Family members qualify Family members qualify