Investing/Doing Business

Are you an entrepreneur? If your principal purpose for coming to the U.S. is to engage in commercial trade with your home country or to start up or invest in a business, the E visa option may be appropriate for you. E visas require a treaty between the U.S. and your country of nationality. Additionally, employees of the E companies who fill a managerial, executive job or one which requires specialized skills may also apply for the similar visa classification. A majority of the ownership of the company employing the E must be held by citizens of the treaty country.

E-1 Treaty Traders must be engaged in "substantial" trade between the U.S. and the treaty country and at least 50% of the trade must be between the two countries. Trade can include the exchange of goods, services, or technology.

E-2 Treaty Investors must have made or be in the process of investing a substantial sum in the U.S. business. The investment must be sufficient to assure the business will succeed and be adequate for the type of business involved. The business must provide a reasonable return on the investment beyond the wage of the investor within several years of the establishment of the business. There is no set dollar amount required, but your Clark Lau attorney can provide insight into whether a proposed investment will qualify. We have experience filing E visa applications in a wide variety of industries and a wide range of investment amounts. We can provide guidance on what is likely to work for your situation.

Unlike the E-1 and E-2 options which are temporary, a long-term permanent resident option is the EB-5 program. This option allows you to obtain permanent residency without the sponsorship of family or an employer.

To qualify you must:

  • Invest in a new commercial enterprise;
  • Invest at least $1,000,000 ($500,000 in certain cases) into the business, and
  • The business must create employment for 10 full-time workers within a period of 2-3 years.

(Your investment can be $500,000 if the business is in a "targeted employment area" where the rate of unemployment is 150% of the national average or in a rural area.)

As an alternative to direct investment, there is also the option of investing in established Regional Centers which pool investments and whereby the immigration service has pre-approved certain aspects of the case. Due diligence however should be conducted to ensure that investing in a particular Regional Center meets your objectives.

Your Clark Lau attorney can explain the program to you in greater detail, help you decide whether to pursue direct investment or a Regional Center, provide guidelines for your due diligence investigation, and help you document the source of funds. We can work alongside your team of business, tax, and other professionals or assist you in setting up such a team for your investment. While there are many firms who claim to have expertise in this area, let us share with you our actual experience with such cases.

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