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Exploring green card options for immigrant entrepreneurs, part 1

Many entrepreneurs emigrate from other countries for the business opportunities that the United States can provide. Even though U.S. law enforcement has been tightening restrictions on immigration, it has not discouraged the many foreign-born entrepreneurs who hope to establish a business here. Rather, it has only motivated these entrepreneurs to explore their options for acquiring a green card.

There are several paths for obtaining permanent residence in the U.S. One of the most common for immigrant entrepreneurs is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Though this option is the most popular, it is not necessarily the best option for every applicant. In this two-part series, we will take a look at this program and three other alternatives for entrepreneurs who wish to come to the United States.

1. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

By far the most popular option for immigrant investors is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor program. To qualify, a would-be entrepreneur must be able to pledge an investment of $500,000 to $1 million and create at least 10 permanent, full-time jobs. Obviously, these are very high stakes. It takes two years of conditional permanent residence for EB-5 investors to remove these provisions. Even for the applicants who can meet these high standards, it may still take several years to be eligible for permanent residence. Still, for the entrepreneurs whose companies are lucrative enough to guarantee these investments, applying for an EB-5 can be a reliable and fiscally rewarding option for obtaining a green card.

2. EB-1A Extraordinary Ability

Unfortunately, the steep investments required for the EB-5 program may not be feasible for some businesspeople. One alternative to this program is the EB-1A Extraordinary Ability petition. It gives applicants who have certain extraordinary abilities the opportunity to reside permanently in the U.S. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines the criteria for “extraordinary ability.” Typically, an immigrant must have received a major, internationally recognized award or meet at least three out of 10 criteria identified by the USCIS. A major benefit of EB-1A petitions is that there is usually not a large backlog. Entrepreneurs who are from China or India may find this option appealing in order to circumvent the usually-clogged backlogs of other visas.

These are just two possible visas for immigrant entrepreneurs. Our next post will discuss two more options that entrepreneurs may want to consider.

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