Obtaining a Green Card

To get your Green Card approved for business activities in the USA, you have to meet the legal and financial requirements set by the Immigration Service. The legal issues regarding your Green Card will be handled by our immigration attorneys. Our legal staff will develop the strategy and do everything else to make sure your immigration process is successful. They will also prepare all the relevant documents in accordance with the requirements of the law. Simply put, our attorneys will deal with your legal issues. Our executives ensure the immigration of your business-component: registering and procuring companies, preparing relevant documents on behalf of new or procured companies, managing your company in the USA, managing turnover and gaining profit, etc.

The information below on immigration to the United States laid down here is introductory – to present ideas of possible ways of business-immigration to the USA. In each case, it is only the immigration attorney who will define the particular process of your immigration.

You must understand that the issuance of a U.S. Visa is just the beginning of your Green Card acquisition process. Your Green Card largely depends upon the success of your business in the USA. U.S. authorities are only interested in you if you can prove that you can bring income to them in the form of taxes. Meanwhile, the other requirements are not more than formalities which you can accomplish easily to get your Green Card issued. Somehow, there is a current opinion among businessmen from the CIS that millions of dollars are required for business-immigration consideration to the USA. This notion is not true. The minimum amount for business-immigration to the USA does not exist (with the exception of only EB-5 program). From our experience we can state that the amount of 150-200 thousand USD is sufficient. At the same time, part of those funds will remain on the account of your own business, entirely at your service. Still, the investment amount strongly depends on the location of the business (everything is much more expensive in big cities) and the type of business.

There are three ways to obtain a Green Card through business:

  • E-2 Visas – Require considerable investment and not suited for citizens of certain countries. These countries include Russia (Russia has already signed the agreement with the USA, but it has not yet been ratified), and Uzbekistan. E-2 Visas are quite suitable for the citizens of Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus.
  • L-1A Visas – The most efficient and the least expensive way. However, it requires the applicant to be one of the executive officials of a “parent” company for not less than a year before applying for this Visa. In addition, the turnover of the “parent” company has to be not less than 100,000 (one hundred thousand) USD a year.
  • EB-5 and EB-13 Programs - This one is the most direct and the fastest way to acquire a Green Card. However, this demands considerable investments.

Now, let us have a more detailed view at each of the ways suggested.

Green Card through E-2 Visas

You can get an E-2 type Visa issued only if you are an investor, director, manager or a key employee of a foreign (Ukrainian, for example) company, having made considerable investment of capital in the USA. At the same time, E-2 Visas require not less than 50% of your company shareholders shall reside beyond the USA or shall be staying in the USA.

Executive officials of a foreign company can meet the Visa conditions only if they are the citizens of the country where their company is registered. Acquisition of E Visa is the best way to channel capital investment into an American company. However, citizens of only a number of countries have signed relevant agreement where the USA may apply for an E Visa.

At present, Russian citizens may not apply for an E Visa.

Green Card through L-1 Visas

Getting L-1A Visas is a wonderful start to begin your immigration process. L1-A is available for the top level (for Executive Directors or Managers), while L-1B is for experts. L-1A – is a long-term employment basis Visa designed for the transfer of company executives and managers, as well as employees with specific knowledge to work in the USA in an American corporation – being a subsidiary of a foreign one (Russian, Cypriot, etc.).

“Subsidiary” means a new American company (corporation or LLC), created by the parent company for business in the USA, or specially procured (by the parent company as a branch) existing American firm. The Visa is issued for the period of one to three years.

The first L-1A Visa is issued for the period of one year and can be further extended three times for two years each.

However, in one year the Visa holder may already claim to get the status of a permanent resident of the USA (apply for a Green Card). The family members (spouse, unmarried children under 21 years of age) receive L-2 Visa at the same time. Issuance of L-1 Visa is considered by the authorities within a period of 2-3 months and demands meeting the following conditions:

  • The availability of a “parent” company abroad where the applicant for the Visa has worked for not less than a year occupying one of executive positions, and the “parent” company shall be capable of financing the activities of the branch for several years;
  • Availability of a branch in the USA. The branch may be a recently created company (corporation or an LLC) with an account in US banks and an operating office. Office operation will be checked by INS inspectors. That is an absolutely realistic check; the INS inspectors will come to the office and check whether the American branch is actually situated at the address indicated in the documents.
  • Possession by the Visa applicant of a sufficient education level and work experience as an executive (chief manager) in an American branch.
  • The turnover of “parent” company abroad shall not be less than $100,000 (one hundred thousand) USD a year.

Green Cards for Investors. EB-5, EB-13 Programs

Individuals who invested as much as $ 1,000,000 into an American enterprise are entitled to immigration Visa irrespective of nationality. E or L status possession is not a must for that – you can directly apply for this type of Green Card. This option is a good way for an investor/enterprise proprietor to acquire a resident permit, on condition, of meeting all the requirements towards this type of Green Card.

Businessmen whose investment is under $1,000,000 may apply for issuance of a resident permit as well, under the label of “International company proprietor”.

The requirements towards issuance of investor Green Card are as follows:

Investor Green Card requires a minimum investment of $1,000,000. You can invest almost into any type of enterprise in America. In contrast, to get an E Visa, you can apply for investor Green Card regardless of the nationality.

If you are investing in regions with high unemployment rates or under-populated rural areas, the minimum investment can amount to $500,000. These priority regions are defined by each state on their own.

You do not have to deposit all the investments before applying for the Green Card. However, at the moment of filing the application for immigration Visa you have to be actively investing, especially if you are reorganizing an existing enterprise or launching a new business. The required investment amount shall be guaranteed by written commitments. Plans for future investments not substantiated with any documentary commitments, cannot be treated as grounds for issuance of an immigration Visa.

Attention! Beware of “programs” offering Green Cards for $100,000.

Immigration legislation consultants offer “programs” promising investors Green Cards for $100,000 or for investments not less than those required by the law. Offers like that may easily mislead the applicant for two reasons.

According to immigration legislation, the investor is issued a “provisional” Green Card (or an immigration Visa) at the beginning of investment, even if the amount of the first investment equals to 100 000 USD. Thus, investor may think that he got the Green Card “for old rope” and there is no necessity to invest the remaining amount. However, you have to take into account that two years later the Immigration Service will thoroughly check the fulfillment of the requirements of the law by the investor, including investment of the whole required amount. In case of failure to meet all the requirement of the law, the investor is deprived of the “provisional” Green Card. He also looses all the money and the resident permit in the USA.

Many programs that issue “cheap” Green Cards also issue loans to enterprises (even through governmental programs) with a guarantee of investment return. However, according to the Immigration legislation the loan with a guarantee of funds return is not considered as an investment for the Green Card issuance and respectively does not give the right to a Green Card. On those grounds two years later within the course of re-check of the investment the Immigration Service can deprive the investor of the Green Card.

The conclusion is simple: bypassing the law and an attempt to acquire a “cheap” Green Card can turn into serious trouble for you in the future. If you are want to place a major investment into an American enterprise to acquire a Green Card, do it in a legal way.

Since Investor Green Cards were designed for resolution of employment problem of the USA population, every investor must create at least 10 jobs for American citizens and residents. You, your family members working for you, other foreign employees of the American office and independent contractors are not included into those 10 jobs. Part-time jobs, i.e. half-time and less, are not taken into account either (in some cases, double jobbing may be included into required ten jobs).

You as an investor do not have to create all the ten jobs before submitting an application. However, you have to show a contract according to which you undertake to create ten jobs within the following two years. (A businessman, whose investment can increase US export may apply for immigration Visa on the grounds of “indirect” jobs creation. This type of application requires very solid proof and complicated documents.)

Several investors may jointly invest funds in an American enterprise to apply for a Green Card, but each investor must meet the relevant requirements on his own. For example, the partners may invest $1,000,000. USD in one company and hire ten employees each to receive Green Cards. As well as for E status acquisition, the investment shall not be passive (procurement of a house in the USA, for example). Funds have to be invested into an active commercial enterprise, creating jobs. Besides, the investor has to come to the USA in order to directly manage the business by any means.

Finally, you have to submit the documents on the sources of funds to prove that you received the money legally. This is done to prevent drugs traffickers and other criminal world businessmen from acquisition of a resident permit in America. However, the source of your income shall not obligatorily be beyond the USA.

“Provisional” Green Card and Other Possible Options

Keep in mind that you have a set trial period of two years and your Green Card is “provisional”. You have to make sure that you have invested the promised million completely and have created the required jobs. The Immigration Service does not want you to close down the enterprise and return all the money immediately after acquiring the resident permit!

Thus, within the period between 21st-24th months after receipt of the “provisional” Green Card your attorney has to send another application with the request to issue a “conclusive” Green Card.

By that time you have to prove that you have fulfilled all the requirements:

  • The enterprise still exists;
  • You have invested an amount of $1,000,000 ($500,000 in some cases);
  • You have created at least 10 jobs for US citizens and residents.

You also have to show that the financial position of the enterprise is stable. You may be called for an interview by the Immigration Service. In case you have to leave the USA within the course of your application in the Immigration Service, you have to show proof that your application was sent in time. It is recommended to turn to a lawyer to fill in the second application form.

In case your attorney did not send the application for “conclusive” Green Card within three months (Immigration Service will not remind you of that) or if you did not fulfill your promise within two years, you automatically lose your right to the Green Card. You are not assessed by your good intentions, but by the results of your business in the United States.

Investor Green Card may be useful if you are planning to invest large amount of capital in the USA (which, naturally, meets all the requirements of this type of Visa) or if you are unable to acquire a resident permit in other ways. This concerns people owning only an enterprise in the United States, as well as American firms not having production liaisons with a foreign company. However, in many other cases you can choose a faster, “cheaper” and less risky way to acquire a Green Card.

In case of correct distribution of investments the Executive Director of an international company can acquire a “conclusive” Green Card within several months. This is possible if you invest into an American enterprise over one year old and if the American and the foreign enterprises have liaisons. Liaisons may exist if you possess the control stock.

The new enterprise has to actively operate for one year. After six months, you can receive the “conclusive” Green Card (keep in mind that the investor does not have to wait for two years to change the “provisional” Green Card into “conclusive” one). At the same time, you can have a non-immigrant L-1 status and travel outside the USA with L-1 Visa.

However, the law can be amended with the establishment of minimum amount of investment, quantity of employees, turnover, etc. with the view to acquisition of the Green Card by the proprietor (employee) of an international company; though the current law in place does not mention:

  • Minimum amount of investment;
  • Creation of at least ten jobs;
  • Submission of tax statements, information on income sources or your law violations for the last fifteen years; trial period within which you can be deprived of the Green Card in case of enterprise bankruptcy;
  • Re-application for issuance of “conclusive” Green Card;
  • Interviews in the Immigration Service.

Therefore, if you are entitled to an investor Green Card, you can create an enterprise structure, which will enable you to apply for the Green Card through the category of “proprietor (employee) of an international company”. This will allow you to acquire a “conclusive” Green Card faster, with least expenses and minimum check from the Immigration Service.

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