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How can an H-1B visa holder buy a franchise for EB-5 purposes?

I am currently on an H-1B visa and am interested in becoming a franchise owner here in the United States. I would like to apply for EB-5 using the funds invested in the franchise. As the investment has to be made prior to acquiring a green card, on what status can I own a business in the United States while my EB-5 application is being processed? Would I be able to satisfy EB-5 investment requirements while remaining on my H-1B visa?

Answers

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    Julia Roussinova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Your safest option is regional center investment where you can be a limited partner with a policy-making role. H-1B visa holders are not authorized to work in their own business. Otherwise, someone authorized to work can manage the business for you in order to not violate your H-1B status and you can be a passive investor with a policy-making role, or, alternatively, use an escrow account for EB-5 funds until the I-526 is approved, and you file for adjustment of status and get employment authorization while it is pending. Another option may be the E-2 visa if your country is eligible. You should consult an immigration attorney.

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    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You can continue to live and work in the United States under H-1B status while the I-526 investor petition is pending. If you invest in your own franchise business, you will have to wait until the conditional permanent residency is approved before you can manage the franchise business.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As long as you remain employed under the H-1B visa, making an investment for EB-5 purposes may be acceptable. If the I-526 is approved you can adjust status to permanent resident and you can remain employed or, as a green card holder, take any other employment.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Yes, you can own the franchise while in H-1B status. You cannot work there though until the green card is approved, so I would suggest an escrow arrangement where funds are only released to the franchisor if the I-526 is approved. Alternatively, you can hire someone else to be manager and you just handle the policy decisions until your conditional green card is approved.

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    John J Downey

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Should be no problem, owning a business does not require any status. Remaining in the United States does require a status which you have as an H-1B.

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    Sufen Hilf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    As an H-1B holder, you cannot actively participate in the management of the business. However, you can be an owner of the business. After I-526 approval, you should be able to manage the business or participate in the policy-making process of the business.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Regional center is best; if you want to buy a franchise you have to apply for an E-2 if you want to work there now.

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