This visa category permits investors (including their families) who invest $500,000 in a targeted employment area (or $1,000,000 in any other location) to become permanent residents. To qualify, the investments must create 10 full time jobs for American workers. The process begins with conditional permanent resident status, valid for two years after the qualifying investment is made and approved. During the 90 days before that conditional permanent resident status expires, the investor is then required to file to remove the conditional basis of the permanent resident status by showing that the investment has been maintained and that the 10 American jobs either have been created or are well in the process of being created.
The main reason this program has grown in popularity is the development of the “Regional Center Pilot Program.” Prior to this program the investor was on his or her own to figure out a suitable investment and develop it so that 10 full time U.S. workers were employed. While this option is still available, the Regional Center program works better for many investors, because it offers a packaged investment developed by professionals to meet the rigorous USCIS investment standards. The other major advantage of the Regional Center programs is that they allow for indirect job creation formulas, so that unlike the independent investments, the regional centers can use formulas to show job creation from such means as construction jobs and employees of future tenants.
While these regional center investments greatly simplify the investment visa permanent resident process, it remains easily the most complex route to permanent residence, and involvement of an experienced immigration attorney is critical to success. For example, while regional centers have all been approved by the USCIS, some have a much higher success rate than others, and it is vital that you have all the critical information before you when you make your selections. The USCIS will carefully scrutinize the method of your investment, and you need to be certain that the approach you are taking will qualify you. The USCIS will thoroughly examine how you obtained the resources for your investment and how you got the investment funds into the United States, so these processes should be carefully monitored by an experienced attorney.
Finally you should be aware that there are related alternative approaches that may be more suitable for you, and an attorney can help you examine which approach is best suited for your situation. For example, you may qualify as a non-immigrant treaty investor and this might turn out to be a better approach for you; or, it might make more sense for you to set up a new business in the United States related to the business in your home country, and then obtain permanent resident status as a multinational manager.
Landau, Hess, Simon, Choi & Doebley has ample experience with all of these visa categories, and we would look forward to helping you with any of these investment options.