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How to get a US investor visa?

Ieva Miltina Ieva Miltina 11 August 2021
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Many people worldwide have a dream of getting a Green Card, a visa, or any other legitimate document that allows staying in the USA. After all, it is the land where all the dreams come true. The place where you can make yourself out of nothing. The life we all see on the TV - the good, the bad, and the liberating. We are used to seeing the people from overseas coming and starting from the bottom, working their way up to get into a manager or even business owner position. If you are already well-established and would like to move to the US for living and business, considering the US investor visa program might be an option. If you can meet all the US investor visa requirements, you will get an opportunity to visit this country.

As you have understood, we will be talking about the possibilities to become a legal resident of the US through investing. If you are curious to find out more about things like what is the US investor visa exactly, then you have found yourself in the right place. I will try to tell you more about the most important aspects that will help manage the vast amount of online information—starting from general concepts to more specific information, like the US investor visa processing time? How much does a US investor visa cost? Up to intricate details like - can I bring my parents to US as an investor E2 visa? You will find it all out in just a second, but let’s start from the basics.

What is the US investor visa?

american visa in passport

Let me explain a bit about the concept of investor visas. Sometimes they are called the “Golden Visas”. It is a modern concept that is becoming more and more popular as it enables moving to another country legally through committing an investment. Various countries offer different options to motivate foreigners to invest in real estate, existing or new ventures. It is a way to attract economic development and innovation to the country and has proven to be a very successful practice for the modern-day world.

The US offers a similar program, but one of the main distinctions to keep in mind is that there is no option for applying if you are interested in buying a property. The US investor visa program is only for those investors who would like to support or run a business. There are several US investor visa types (more on that in a moment). Depending on your commitment, they will grant you either a permit to stay there for a few years or permanent residency rights - the Green Card. Most of them give some kind of rights to bring along your family on easier conditions. To understand what it is all about, let’s find out the options you can choose from.

What are the US investor visa types?

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The most popular is the EB-5 investor immigration program. It is even considered the golden standard by some, and the unofficial title has legitimate reasoning behind it. Under this program, you and your spouse, as well as unmarried children under 21, can apply for a permanent residence if you make an investment of at least 1,8 million USD. The minimum US investor visa amount this program permits may be reduced to 900 000 USD if you invest in a “Targeted Investment Area”. It means - a rural or a high unemployment area. This investment can come in the form of capital investment or if you create at least 10 full-time job positions. Obviously, this is quite a lot of money, but there are other options that will help attain your American dream at a lower cost. If you google “how to get investor visa in USA”, then the below-mentioned options come up almost as often as the praised EB-5.

What are cheaper ways to get an investor visa in the US?

The EB-5 program will grant you a Green Card, which is technically not a visa, but a residency permit. However, there are two other visa types that will open your door to the US for a few years, and that can lead to a longer time of residence if you aim for that. They are called L-1 and E-2 work visas, and I will try to explain the main differences among those two, as well as the previously mentioned scheme. The most obvious feature is that neither of the latter two will require as much investment, and therefore are more easily attainable. To get an L-1 or E-2 US investor visa amount to invest is sometimes as little as 100 000 USD, but each case is taken individually.

Let me explain the principle of the L-1 visa in a simplified way. It is targeted at managers and executives of already existing companies abroad that would be willing to continue their work in the US while still remaining employed in their current company. For example, if the company were to open its branch in the US. The good thing is - a national from practically any country can qualify if they have worked for the company for at least a year. There is a bigger chance of a successful outcome if the company has been in business for several years already and has at least 5 employees (not a requirement, though). With L-1, you will be allowed to stay up to seven years and apply for a green card after a year spent in the US.

Another option is aimed at managers and executives who are nationals of the countries with which the US has an investment treaty deal. This type of visa is aimed to help with starting something new, and one of the E-2 US investor visa requirements will be a considered business plan. To put it simply - this visa is more focused on the potential of a start-up company, while the L-1 visa is looking at past deeds. However, with E-2, you are initially granted just 2 years that can be extended. The rule with these both is that they would expect commitment to leave the US after the employment (and the visa) ends.

Can I bring my parents to US as an investor E2 visa?

Yes, family is another legitimate question that many ask. After all, moving somewhere for several years would not make much sense if you can’t bring your own family with you, would it? This is why on E-2 and L-1 visas, you are allowed to bring your spouse and unmarried kids up to 21 years of age with you. They will be able to get a visa related to your status and stay there as long as you do. The thing is - bringing parents does not fit in the permitted groups, and they will need to arrange their own individual status, which will not always turn out with a granted visa.

How much does a US investor visa cost?

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The fees depend on the visa you want to obtain. Consular fees will be rather low - around 200 USD for L-1 and E-2 visas, but for EB-5, it will be 445 USD. Please take into consideration that these are just fees for accepting your application, but you will have to keep in mind the expenses for arranging the documents, translations, and other formalities that get you there.

What is the US investor visa processing time?

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That’s something you should definitely consider when planning all the formalities concerning the visa. Most of these visas will take anywhere from 6 to 9 months after submitting all the necessary documents. That is, taking into account the time you will wait to get the interview is done and other practicalities that take up the majority of the time. It is said that the processing of the actual application after they have all of your information will last up to two months or 60 days.

As you see, there are several options you can choose from. Getting an investor visa in the US or a Green Card is something that not everyone will be able to do. Nonetheless, it is a legitimate option, and your candidacy will be favoured over other types of visas if you happen to be eligible for it. Hopefully, this article gives you enough insight for understanding how to get investor visa in USA, but the rest is now in your own hands.

First, decide what your end goal is. Is it a residency permit or a visa? Then figure out what is the thing you are ready to commit to if you want to achieve your goal. Then look through the available options to see which one fits you best. Hopefully, soon enough, you will have a game plan in your head. Maybe on paper, too. After all, such a big investment has to be considered and planned thoroughly, and I wish you good luck with that! May the process be smooth, and your aspirations come true!

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Ieva Miltina
Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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