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Investor and Company Transfer Visas

International investors and business owners may apply for a visa to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis.

Permanent Residence Through Investment

An person who invests at least $1 million and creates jobs for 10 U.S. workers may apply to become a lawful permanent resident. The investment amount drops to $500,000 if it is made in a rural area or a part of the country with at least 150 percent of the national average in unemployment. This visa option is sometimes called the employment-creation visa.

The investment does not have to be made at the beginning of the application process. The investor only has to be in the process of investing the required amount, which could be shown with contracts for purchase of a business or property or a business plan that will be executed upon the approval of the employment-creation visa. The initial approval is on a conditional basis. For those conditions to be removed, the investment must be made and the funds must be at risk for the purpose of generating a profit. Having cash in an account does not qualify.

The investor also must demonstrate how the funds for such a sizable investment were generated. Specifically, he or she must be able to document that the source of the funds was legal. The jobs created must be full-time jobs for employees, not contractors.

Initially, the permanent-resident status will be granted for only two years. Before the expiration of the status, the investor must file to remove conditions and show that the requirements have been met and continue to be met and that the investment is ongoing. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany the investor as derivatives.

Permanent Residence Through International Company Transfer

An owner of a business with a functioning office outside of the U.S. may establish an office in the U.S. and transfer himself or herself to function as a manager or executive. The two offices involved in the transfer must somehow be affiliated, and both offices must continue doing business for the duration of the process.

The person transferring to the U.S. must have worked for the foreign office for 12 consecutive months within the past three years as a manager or executive. The person also must be transferring to the U.S.-affiliated office to function as a manager or executive for that office.

For the position in the U.S. to be considered managerial or executive, the person must have significant control over the direction of the U.S. operation. Additionally, under current interpretation of the statute, the company should have a significant number of employees, including mid-level supervisors and managers, to prevent the manager or executive from having to be involved in the day-to-day activities of the company.

Once this process has been completed, the person can apply for lawful permanent residence. The benefit also is available to the person’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age.

Last update: Sept. 25, 2008