By Joana Fernandes
The EB-5 visa Immigrant Investor program presents a unique opportunity for investors to secure permanent residency in the United States. Through an investment of either $800,000 or $1.05 million in a new business or enterprise, eligible individuals and their immediate family members gain the ability to obtain a green card, granting them the freedom to live, study, and work in the U.S. This program has garnered significant popularity, particularly among nationals of the commonwealth countries who aspire to immigrate to America.
Historically, the U.S. has consistently held a strong allure for citizens of commonwealth countries seeking immigration. This appeal stems from a combination of factors, those being the unparalleled job and business opportunities available in the U.S., the shared native language, and certain cultural affinities between the U.S. and Commonwealth nations. Such factors enable individuals to readily find employment or establish their own business in the U.S., and it plays a significant role in facilitating integration into American society and the labor market.
BENEFITS OF THE EB-5 VISA TO COMMONWEALTH NATIONALS
There are three key benefits offered by the EB-5 visa program to commonwealth nationals. These benefits encompass the prospects of employment opportunities within the U.S., the ability to establish and operate a business, and the attainment of both permanent residency and the potential of obtaining U.S. citizenship as a second citizenship.
Citizens of commonwealth countries often express a strong desire to seek employment in the US, primarily driven by the prospect of better wages and enhanced opportunities. Citizens of India, in particular, have chosen to pursue the path of the EB-5 visa due to the prevailing visa backlogs on other employment-based visa categories such as EB-2 and EB-3. For this reason, Indian nationals have increasingly turned to the EB-5 program as it provides a more straightforward path to obtaining a green card in the U.S., bypassing the lengthy visa queues that can span over a decade for certain visa categories.
However, the appeal of the EB-5 program extends beyond Indian-born nationals and encompasses citizens of other commonwealth countries as well. This program offers a range of benefits, one of which is the freedom to work in the U.S. without the need for employer sponsorship or reliance on the highly competitive H-1B visa lottery system. Green card holders, on the other hand, enjoy the privilege of working anywhere in the US for any employer of their choosing. It is important to add that individuals currently holding a valid immigration status, such as an E-2 visa, H1-B, or even an F-1 visa, have the ability to adjust their status alongside their I-526 application and receive a work permit and a travel document enabling them to avoid consular processing and continuing living and working in the US under their pending EB-5 application.
Individuals holding green card status through the EB-5 program also have the opportunity to establish their own businesses within the U.S. Notably, citizens from select commonwealth countries, including Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and others, can currently open and operate a business under the E2 visa, a non-immigrant visa category. However, it's important to note that the E2 visa often imposes limitations, such as allowing the opportunity to run only one business, the inability of the main applicant to be employed full-time, and finally, lacking a direct path to immigrant status. Additionally, the children of E2 visa holders are considered dependents only until they reach the age of 21; thereafter, they must seek another status to remain legal in the U.S. In contrast, the EB-5 route offers distinct advantages as an immigrant pathway. Individuals pursuing the EB-5 program can open and operate multiple businesses without such restrictions once they become green card holders. If the investor's children are under 21 years of age at the time of application, they will be included as dependents and receive green cards alongside their parents, granting them access to the numerous benefits and opportunities afforded by permanent residency in the US. The EB-5 program thus provides a comprehensive and appealing avenue for investors seeking long-term business prospects and the accompanying advantages for their families.
EB-5 AS A PATH OF CITIZENSHIP AFTER FIVE YEARS
A further compelling advantage of pursuing the EB-5 visa route is the potential to acquire additional citizenship. Upon holding green card status for a period of five years, which includes the two-year conditional green card period, investors will have the opportunity to apply for US citizenship, provided they fulfill the residency requirement. This pathway offers a remarkable prospect for investors to not only establish a solid foundation in the US but also to potentially become citizens and enjoy the many benefits of being a US citizen, such as traveling visa-free to over 186 countries. Other benefits of obtaining U.S. citizenship include the privilege of voting, the ability to sponsor other family members and bringing them to the U.S. (e.g., parents and siblings) as well as gaining the right to spend extensive time outside of the US without losing the right to come back and live in the country.
It is not surprising that many citizens from Commonwealth countries have chosen to pursue permanent legal residence in the US, and this trend is continuously on the rise. The U.S. offers a range of opportunities and benefits that appeal to Commonwealth citizens. Its robust economy, diverse industries, and entrepreneurial environment provide a great ground for professional growth, job opportunities, and business ventures. The American education system is also highly regarded globally, with numerous prestigious universities and colleges that offer world-class educational programs. Commonwealth citizens often consider sending their children to study in the US, recognizing the quality of education and the potential career prospects that come with it. The EB-5 program, therefore, offers the investor and their family a straight route to enjoy all of the benefits the United States has to offer.