Foreign Investment Visas - E2, L1, EB1,EB5
The E-2 visa is a temporary visa for foreign investors. Although the visa is temporary, it can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business remains viable and you continue to develop and direct the business. E-2 is governed by international treaty, so it is not available for every country. Consult with an immigration attorney to see if your home country has the required treaty with the United States. To qualify for an E-2, you will need to show that you are investing in an existing company, or one that is nearly ready to begin doing business. The investment needs to be substantial, either a significant sum of money or a significant portion of the business's worth.
The L-1 visa is a temporary visa for international managers, executives, or employees with specialized knowledge. This visa is valid for three years (renewable up to seven), and is a dual-intent visa, meaning the worker can pursue permanent residence while working on in L-1 status.
The two companies need to have a qualifying relationship, meaning the US company must be a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate of the foreign company. It is simplest when one company owns the other outright or has majority ownership, establishing a parent-subsidiary relationship. In other cases, the documentary requirements establishing ownership and control can be much more complicated.
The worker needs to be a manager, executive, or possess specialized knowledge. The job title or ownership of the company will not be enough to establish that the worker is a manager or executive- the job duties are the controlling factor. The petition will need to show that the worker was acting primarily as a high-level director of a department or function of the company, rather than acting as a front-line supervisor or being involved in day-to-day operations.
There are additional requirements if the US company has been in business for less than one year, or will be a new office.
The EB-1 is an immigrant visa for international managers and executives. It is highly similar to the L-1 visa, except that it is not available to employees with specialized knowledge. It is also not available for new offices; the US company must have been actively doing business for at least one year. Since this is an immigrant visa that leads to permanent residence, petitions are subject to a higher level of scrutiny than L-1 petitions.
The EB-5 is an immigrant visa for foreign investors. The investor must show that they are putting $1 million of their own money at risk (or $500,000 in some cases), and that the business will employ at least 10 US workers. The funds need to be irrevocably committed, not contingent on approval of the EB-5. The investor will also need to show that the funds were raised by lawful means. Admission under an EB-5 visa results in Conditional Permanent Resident status. The investor will need to file a followup petition prior to the two year anniversary of their entry, showing that the business is still ongoing, that the investor is actively managing the business, and that it either has created 10 US jobs or can be expected to do so within a reasonable time.