A permanent resident foreign national is any person who is not a citizen of the United States, but that is living in the United States under a recognized and valid immigration visa. This visa grants them permanent resident status in order to work and live in the United States for an indefinite period of time.
Generally speaking, what constitutes proof of such permanent residency status would be the possession of a permanent resident card, which is also known as a green card. However, it is important to note that permanent resident status can also refer to immigrants who have entered the country under a conditional residency status; and, have had their status adjusted to that of permanent resident.
Lawful permanent residents may also be referred to as:
- Resident alien permit holder;
- Green card holder; and/or
- Permanent resident alien.
As a permanent resident, you will receive many of the same abilities and privileges that are inherently granted to United States citizens. An example of this would be how a permanent resident may:
- Legally work at any job in the United States, and receive worker protections;
- Own property; and
- Not be required to return to their home countries at any point in time, with the exception of deportation.
Additionally, as long as your green card remains valid, as a permanent resident you can travel to and from your home country at any time. And, permanent residence status may result in the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship.
What Is Investment Immigration?
Every year, as many as 10,000 qualified foreign nationals have the opportunity to obtain permanent residence status in the United States by investing in a business. This is commonly known as investment immigration, but is also referred to as employment Fifth Preference (E5) Immigrant Investors, or Immigrant Entrepreneurs. Visas are made available to immigrant investors who are seeking to enter into the United States in order to “engage in new commercial enterprises that benefit the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment.”
In order to qualify as an immigrant investor for petitions that are filed on or after November 21, 2019, a foreign national must invest the following minimum qualifying amounts in a qualifying commercial enterprise:
- $1,000,000; or
- $500,000 in a high-unemployment or rural area, which is considered to be a targeted employment area. It is imperative to note that the investment must be made without borrowing.
Within two years, a qualifying investment must create full-time jobs for at least ten U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or other immigrants who are authorized to work in the United States. This number cannot include the investor and the investor’s spouse or children.
Simply put, a qualified investor is a person who:
- Establishes a new business;
- Invests or is in the process of investing in the business; and
- Ensures that the business will benefit the United States economy.
Other than creating an original business, there are a few other ways in which to qualify for immigration through investment. An example of this would be how you may purchase an existing business, and simultaneously or subsequently restructure it so that a new business is created. Another example of this would be by retaining all existing jobs in a distressed business.
To reiterate, a qualifying investment must be at least one million dollars, or at least a half-million dollars if the business is located in a region in which unemployment exceeds the national average by 150%. The capital investment can take many different forms, including:
- Equipment; and/or
The economy will be considered to have benefited from the investment if it creates at least ten full-time jobs, or all jobs in a distressed business are maintained.
How Do I Apply For Investment Immigration? What Is The Process After Applying?
The first step to applying for investment immigration is to file a petition. In order to be considered for an E5 immigrant investor visa, the applicant must file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). It is important to note that labor certification is not required for immigrant investors. Additionally, the Form I-526 petition must be approved by the USCIS prior to applying for an immigrant visa in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate located outside of the United States.
The next step is to pay all applicable fees and submit a visa application. Once USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) and will be assigned a case number for the petition. NVC will begin pre-processing the case by instructing the applicant to submit the appropriate fees; after the appropriate fees have been paid, the applicant must submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including but not limited to application forms and civil documents.
These fees are generally charged for:
- Filing Form I-526;
- Processing an immigrant visa application;
- Medical examination and required vaccinations, the costs of which may vary;
- Photocopying charges;
- Obtaining documents such as passports, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.; and/or
- Expenses associated with travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for your visa interview.
Once the NVC determines that the file is complete, they will schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. The applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation that was not already provided to the NVC. During this interview, the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa under U.S. immigration law.
If you are issued an investment immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you your passport containing the immigrant visa, as well as a sealed packet containing the documents which you provided. It is imperative that you do not open the sealed packet; only the U.S. immigration official should open this packet when you enter the United States. Additionally, keep in mind that you are required to enter the U.S. prior to the expiration date which is printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as any family members who are also holding visas.
What Other Rights Do Permanent Residents Receive?
To reiterate, as a permanent resident you have similar rights that those who were born in the United States inherently have. Examples include, but may not be limited to, the right to:
- Live permanently anywhere in the United States, as long as your permanent status is not lost by abandonment or removal which is also known as deportation;
- Apply for a driver’s license in your state;
- Attend public schools and colleges;
- Purchase and/or own a firearm, as long as there are not local laws in place that say you cannot own a firearm;
- Travel to and from the United States; and
- All of the protections of the laws of the United States.
Do I Need An Attorney For Investment Immigration?
If you are considering obtaining permanent residency through investment immigration, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
An immigration lawyer can help you determine if the business that you want to invest in qualifies for investment immigration, and how much capital is required to proceed. Additionally, an attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, should any legal issues arise.