United States Immigration
There are various immigration programs that are available for business immigration to the United States.
Click on a link below to find out more about each category of immigration.
Strategic Element has been active in the EB-5 program since 2010 and is widely recognized as an industry leader. Since that time, we have participated in the development of EB-5 deals raising over $3 billion in EB-5 capital.
The EB-5 visa is an employment-based visa which provides a way for eligible immigrant investors to become permanent residents in the US. This program is intended to encourage foreign investments and economic growth. The investment amount is either $900,000 or $1.8 million, depending on whether the project is in a high-unemployment area (known as a ‘TEA’).
Applicants have two ways to invest in the EB-5 visa program:
- Direct: Make a direct investment into a new or existing business that creates 10 new full-time jobs. In this case, the business plan is written for the investor.
- Regional Center: Invest through a regional center business, which offers the opportunity to invest in a business ‘project’ without having direct management involvement. Regional centers can create qualifying jobs for direct employees, and for indirect employees, which can be calculated by economists. In this case, the business plan is written for the regional center.
EB-5 Regional Centers
Under the EB-5 program, every project requires its own business plan. In the case where projects are being planned as regional center projects, if the regional center has not already been created it requires its own operations plan, which is a special type of business plan with unique requirements.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines an EB-5 Regional Center as a public or private economic entity that is "involved with the promotion of economic growth, including increased export sales, improved regional productivity, job creation or increased domestic capital investment." USCIS-approved regional centers operate an investment fund explicitly for the benefit of EB-5 investors in which their funds are invested in specific job-creating projects while managing the EB-5 approval process on their behalf.
The EB-2 visa is an employment-based visa program that allows immigrants in certain specialized professions – such as doctors, business managers and educators – who have advanced degrees to gain lawful permanent residence in the US. There are three groups who qualify for the EB-2 visa:
- Foreign national professionals with a master’s degree or higher and with a job offer from a US company
- Foreign nationals with exceptional ability in the sciences, business or arts and with a job offer from a US company
- Foreign nationals with exceptional ability, or an advanced degree, who can show that their activities will substantially benefit the US national interest
The L-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows overseas companies to transfer employees to a new or existing company office in the US. There are two types of L-1 visas:
- L-1A: allows entry for executives, managers and business owners for up to seven years
- L-1B: allows entry for specialized knowledge employees for up to five years
The E-1 visa allows an individual of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the US solely to engage in international trade on his or her own behalf. Certain employees of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.
The E-2 visa is an employment-based visa that allows an investor to live and work in the US to develop and lead the business. It allows for entry of executive, management and essential-skills employees. Application can be made for the visa to be extended for as long as the business continues to function in the US.
An applicant will need to show that a substantial investment has been made into the business with realistic plans to establish and to continue to fund the business as needed. The business is generally expected to create jobs for US citizens and residents of the US.
The O-1 visa is a non-resident US visa for people who demonstrate extraordinary ability in their field, whether that be the arts, sport, business, education or the sciences. This visa is normally valid for up three years. However, if it is granted to cover a specific event, production or activity, the period may be less. Extensions are available in 1-year increments, and there is no limit on extensions, however the visa holder must show that they are continuing with the same position or activity for which the original visa was granted.
The H-1B visa is a highly competitive, non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ highly skilled graduate-level workers in specialty occupations requiring technical expertise typically in fields such as IT, finance and medicine. Any professional level job that requires an applicant to have a bachelor’s degree or higher can fall under the H-1B visa for specialty occupations. If the applicant does not have a bachelor’s degree or higher, he or she may be able to show degree equivalence through work experience and/or other qualifications.
The EB-1C visa is an employment-based immigrant visa that allows multi-national managers and executives entry to the US to gain lawful permanent residence with no significant investment requirement. A multi-national manager or executive is eligible for priority worker status if he or she has been employed outside the US in the three years preceding the petition for at least one year by a firm or corporation and seeks to enter the US to continue service (in a managerial or executive capacity) to that firm or organization.
The EB-1A visa is an immigrant visa for people that are highly gifted in certain industries, specifically, for foreign nationals that have an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, education or athletics and intend to continue to work in the field of extraordinary ability upon coming to the US.
Extraordinary ability means that the applicant is one of a small percentage who has risen to the top of their field. There are multiple ways of proving extraordinary ability, such as receiving major awards in the industry or receiving a much higher salary compared to others in the field.