Article By – LCR Capital
The largest economy in the world is also a great place for immigrant entrepreneurship
The United States is known for its immigrant entrepreneurs who have created successful global companies such as Yahoo, Pfizer, DuPont, Colgate, Goldman Sachs, AT&T, and Google, to name only a few. In recent years the combination of the anti-immigration stance of the Trump administration and the 2020 pandemic led many would-be immigrant entrepreneurs to set their sights a bit lower. However, the new Biden administration, clearly more welcoming to immigrants and with an eye toward economic recovery, and pushing for the development and distribution of vaccines worldwide, once again presents a positive scenario for business expansion in the United States.
People around the world are more optimistic about the pandemic, businesses are being launched again, plans once postponed have been reactivated, and individuals and businesses are preparing to return to their travel schedules. Many consider going abroad an important step for professional or academic development. The immigrants who went to study in the United States and ended up settling in permanently with good lives and successful careers are many (and some legendary). Who wouldn’t want to be the next Sabeer Bhatia (creator of Hotmail) or Satya Nadella (CEO of Microsoft)?
While many immigrant success stories have started with the student route, every year the US environment for international students and professionals gets more competitive. Acceptance at Ivy League universities and qualifying for work visas are both more fiercely competitive than ever. A US green card is a huge advantage in both scenarios. One way to obtain a green card is through the immigrant investor visa, the EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa allows students, professionals, and entrepreneurs more freedom than they would have under other visa programmes, such as the H-1B visa, which is tied to a particular employer—and is currently more or less dead in the water, unless the United States resurrects it under the Biden administration. An EB-5 visa allows for the possibility of career mobility, since the visa doesn’t require its holder to be tied to a particular company’s sponsorship in order to stay in the country. It also takes off a lot of pressure from those starting their own company, since having a green card allows the holder the breathing room needed to get a new business off the ground and not have one’s (and, in many cases, one’s family’s) residency tied to the business’s ongoing operation. Another option is the E-2 visa, which does not come with a green card but allows visa holders (and their immediate family) to live, work, and go to school in the United States. The visa comes with an unlimited number of extensions, although it does not lead to permanent residency.
THE EB-5 VISA
Created in 1990, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa is a US federal program that allows qualified foreign investors and their immediate family members to obtain permanent residency (the green card) by making an investment in the United States that creates jobs.
- 10,000 visas available per year (14,000 expected in 2021)
- 90% average approval rate
- US permanent residency acquired in 24 to 28 months (on average)
- US $900,000 investment required
- Employment of 10 or more US workers (who are not family members) required
- Permanent residency for applicant and immediate family members (children under 21 years old at the time of the application)
- Possibility of choosing from among various EB-5 projects financially strong enough to generate return of capital
- Two types of investment (direct or indirect), with over 95% of applicants choosing the indirect route (by choosing projects tied to Regional Centres approved by the US government)
The E-2 VISA
For those with a more entrepreneurial bent who prefer to make a smaller investment, there’s the E-2 investor visa. This is a nonimmigrant (temporary) investor visa that allows US residency while the investor runs a US business. The applicant must own at least 50% of the firm and must “develop and direct” the business. Spouses are eligible to work anywhere in the United States, and unmarried children can study anywhere in the country, as long as they apply before they hit age 21.
For entrepreneurs or individuals interested in starting a new business or buying a franchise, the E-2 visa is a fast way to gain US residency. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, E-2 applicants must intend to move to the United States solely to “develop and direct the operations of an enterprise.”
- Expeditious processing – 2 to 6 months to US residency
- Unlimited number of extensions
- Family visa and authorizations to work in the United States and attend US schools
- Possibility to sponsor employees of the same nationality
- No exact investment amount required (usually US $150,000)
- Flexibility to travel abroad without needing authorization for US reentry
- There’s a possibility that the investor would not be subject to world income taxation
It is important to note that only nationals of countries that have a treaty with the United States can apply for the E-2 investor visa, and India does not have such a treaty. However, many successful investors have combined an alternative citizenship program with the E-2 visa to achieve their US residency goals. For example, some companies, such as LCR Capital Partners, a private investment and advisory services firm in the United States, facilitates this process through the Grenadian Citizenship by Investment Program. Grenada citizenship and US residency can be achieved in less than one year with an average combined investment of US $500,000, an amount lower than that required by the EB-5 application.
Applicants for either type of visa can take a variety of routes to achieve their international goals, depending on which plan better suits their needs and objectives.