The United States is one of the most desired destinations for migrants and investors from all over the world. There are interesting immigration possibilities for investors, and under the EB-5 program you may be granted permanent resident status (a “Green card”) within a short period of time.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
It was created in 1990. by the Congress. Each year, the US government allocates a substantial number of visas for individuals who wish to make a significant investment in a new commercial enterprise in the USA Under this program, individuals, and their immediate family members, can become permanent residents of the US within a short period of time.
For those who do wish to acquire permanent resident (“Green card”) status, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is the most efficient way to acquire such status.
The EB-5 program requires that a foreign individual invests US$ 1 million or USD 500,000 if the investment is made in a rural area or an area with high unemployment into a new commercial enterprise and create 10 new full-time jobs. Funds must stay invested and be at risk until permanent resident status is granted (usually about 4 years).
Regional Center Program
A certain number of visas are set aside for individuals who apply under the Regional Center Program. There are a number of designated “Regional Centers” in the USA, each with its own distinct industry and geographic focus. Under this program, applicants usually invest USD 500,000 into one of the designated Regional Centre projects, thereby becoming a limited partner in that Regional Centre’s new enterprise.
The main benefit of this option is that investors may rely on indirect job creation rather than directly hiring ten employees. The applicant is free to live and work anywhere in the USA.
There are no requirements as to age, language or past business experience in order to qualify. Applicants however must have a net worth in excess of USD 1 million and proof must be provided that their funds come from legal sources. Furthermore, one must remain in the USA for at least 180 days each year until unconditional green card status is granted if applicant wishes to apply for U.S. Citizenship.
After five years of legal residence from the date of receipt of Conditional Green card, it is possible to acquire US citizenship and to obtain a passport which gives the protection – but also the taxation – of the most powerful country in the world. There are four ways to acquire US citizenship: by birth in the United States or in US territories (Jus soli), by birth outside the US to US parents, and by naturalization.
A Intercompany Transferee Executive or Manager
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The employer must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, with fee, on behalf of the employee.
The following information describes some of the features and requirements of the L-1 nonimmigrant visa program.
General Qualifications of the Employer and Employee
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
• Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
• Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
Doing business means the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and/or services by a qualifying organization and does not include the mere presence of an agent or office of the qualifying organization in the United States and abroad.
To qualify, the named employee must also:
• Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
• Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
Executive capacity generally refers to the employee’s ability to make decisions of wide latitude without much oversight.
Managerial capacity generally refers to the ability of the employee to supervise and control the work of professional employees and to manage the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the organization. It may also refer to the employee’s ability to manage an essential function of the organization at a high level, without direct supervision of others. See section 101(a)(44) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(1)(ii) for complete definitions.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
• The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
• The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
• The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.
See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(3)(v) for details.
Period of Stay
Qualified employees entering the United States to establish a new office will be allowed a maximum initial stay of one year. All other qualified employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of three years. For all L-1A employees, requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to an additional two years, until the employee has reached the maximum limit of seven years.
Family of L-1 Workers
The transferring employee may be accompanied or followed by his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Such family members may seek admission in L-2 nonimmigrant classification and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.
Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status
If these family members are already in the United States and seeking change of status to or extension of stay in L-2 classification, they may apply collectively, with fee, on an Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status.
Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the L-2 spouse may work.
Certain organizations may establish the required intracompany relationship in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions by filing a blanket petition. Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:
• The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
• The petitioner has an office in the United States which has been doing business for one year or more;
• The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates; and
• The petitioner along with the other qualifying organizations meet one of the following criteria:
• Have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
• Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
• Have a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
The approval of a blanket L petition does not guarantee that an employee will be granted L-1A classification. It does, however, provide the employer with the flexibility to transfer eligible employees to the United States quickly and with short notice without having to file an individual petition with USCIS.
Where an L-1 visa is required
In most cases, once the blanket petition has been approved, the employer need only complete Form, I-129S, Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition, and send it to the employee along with a copy of the blanket petition Approval Notice and other required evidence, so that the employee may present it to a consular officer in connection with an application for an L-1 visa.
Canadians with an approved blanket petition seeking L-1 classification
Canadian citizens, who are exempt from the L-1 visa requirement, may present the completed Form I-129S and supporting documentation to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer at certain ports-of-entry on the United States-Canada land border or at a United States pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection station in Canada, in connection with an application for admission to the United States in L-1 status.
Please refer to CBP’s website for additional information and/or requirements for applying for admission into the United States.
Optional filing of Form I-129S with USCIS
If the prospective L-1 employee is visa-exempt, the employer may file the Form I-129S and supporting documentation with the USCIS Service Center that approved the blanket petition, instead of submitting the form and supporting documentation directly with CBP.
See 8 CFR 214.2(l)(4) and 8 CFR 214.2(l)(5) for more details regarding blanket petitions.
Premium Processing vs. Regular Processing
The employers filing working petitions, including L-1A and L-1B visas, may take advantage of a service offered by the USCIS called premium processing. Premium processing provides faster processing for your L-1 petition. The USCIS guarantees that within 15 calendar days, those who have chosen to take advantage of premium processing will receive an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a Request for Evidence (RFE), or notice of an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation for their L-1 (or another employment-based) petition.
Regular processing of an L-1 petition can take anywhere from three to five months. If the alien will be entering the United States under a blanket L-1 petition, approval can take only several weeks. Therefore, if the alien is not under a blanket petition, taking advantage of premium processing can greatly speed up the approval process.
In order to request premium processing, the petitioner must complete Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, along with the standard Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, which must accompany the L-1 visa petition. In addition to all other filing fees required for the application to be processed, there is a $1,225 Premium Processing fee that must be paid.
Since an L-1 petition is a working visa petition, the employer or their attorney must complete Form I-907 separately or concurrently with the Form I-129. The premium processing service fee must be submitted in a separate check or money order. The USCIS also accepts credit card, debit card, and electronic fund transfers from a U.S. bank. You may also include a postage paid and self-addressed courier deliver slip when filing Form I-907 to expedite the return results of the adjudication.
Some additional benefits of the premium-processing program include:
• A special USCIS phone number and email address for premium processing customers at each USCIS service center.
• USCIS will send each premium-processing customer an automatic email notification when your Form I-907 is received.
• USCIS strives to provide faster processing of Form I-129 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) applications of beneficiaries of the premium processing petitioner
From L-1A Status to Green Card
Although the L-1 visa is a temporary, employment based non-immigrant visa, it is also a “dual intent” visa, meaning that an L-1 visa holder and their dependents may apply for permanent residency without jeopardizing their L visa status or visa applications from a US consular office abroad. A specific employment-based immigrant preference category (EB-1C) was created for managers and executives who meet the L-1 standards and are interested in becoming lawful permanent residents. The EB-1 category, or first preference immigration petition, is an employment-based petition for permanent residence reserved for those who are among the most able and accomplished in their respective fields within the arts, sciences, education, business, or sports. The first preference category is allotted 40,000 annual visas.
The EB-1C immigrant petition requirements are almost identical to those of the L-1A non-immigrant petition requirements:
• The candidate must have been employed for one year within the past three years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary or branch of the U.S. employer and he or she must work in the United States in a managerial or executive capacity.
• The company must conduct business within the United States and another country in the regular, systematic, and continuous provision of goods and services.
• The company must have been in existence in the United States for at least one year.
Although L-1 status is not a prerequisite for immigrant benefits in this category, it provides a stronger case when the beneficiary was in an L visa category previously. Many L-1A holders are able to smoothly transition into an EB-1C permanent resident status. The most notable advantage of seeking a green card through the EB-1 category is that labor certification is not necessary for the petitioner. Obtaining a labor certification is a time-consuming and expensive process that seeks to determine whether a qualified U.S. worker is available to fill the position sought by the petitioning employer on behalf of their alien employee. Moreover, the immigrant visa numbers are always available for EB-1 category.
Briefly, the procedure for obtaining a green card through the EB-1C category is as follows:
• The employer files Form I-140, the Petition for an Alien Worker with USCIS.
• Upon approval of the I-140, the alien beneficiary files for Adjustment of Status, Form I-485, if they are already in the U.S. For more information about Adjustment of Status, please click here. If the alien is outside of the U.S., they will need to go through consular processing to get their immigrant visa.
For an alien in L-1B status, he/she may apply for a Green Card as a skilled worker, which requires an approved labor certification. If circumstances allow, he/she may apply under the EB-1(a), EB-1(b), or NIW categories, for which a labor certification is not required.
Of course, other channels for obtaining a green card, such as family based immigration, are also available to alien in L-1 status.
Documents required for L1 visa stamping
Once you receive the L1 approval petition original documents, following is a list of required documents for L1 visa stamping purpose.
• L1 Visa application form confirmation page stamped at Visa Application Center (VAC), See a sample DS160 form.
• US Visa Application fee receipt
• US Visa Interview appointment letter.
• Valid Passport with at least 6 month validity from the date of visa interview.
• All old passports held by the applicant
• Latest resume.
• Copy of the L1 petition submitted to the USCIS.
• Letter from Employer to consulate requesting L1 visa for you.
• All other legal papers you received from your employer.
• Two photographs 2 and 2 inches square (50 mm square) for each applicant, showing full face, without head covering, against a light background. To be used in the application Form.
US consulates are very particular about the Photographs specifications. You must follow these guidelines for photographs required for US visa.
L2 Visa Interview Questions
L2 visa is issued to a dependent (Spouse of children) of a L1 visa holder.
Although the interview process is straight forward, consulate officer still want to make sure that the applicants are indeed are immediate family members (Spouse and children) of the L1 visa holder.
L2 visa can be applied along with L1 visa or after the L1 visa issued.
Following are some of the common questions, you can expect during the interview.
Questions about the Visa
• What type/kind of visa are you applying for?
• When did your husband get his stamping?
• Why do you need a visa to USA?
• Why did you not come with your husband for the interview? ( If you are applying separately?)
• If going after spouse has left to USA: Why did you not leave with your spouse or why are you coming today for visa when you got married on so and so date?
• Who filed the visa application and where did you file it?
• Who made the interview appointment?
• I see that you have been rejected earlier, do you know why? (Possible question, if you have been rejected before)
Questions about Your Marriage
• When did you get married or what is your date of marriage?
• When did you meet your spouse for the first time?
• >How did you meet your spouse?
• Where did you get married?
• Is your marriage registered?
• Can I see some wedding photographs?
• Can I see your marriage certificate?
Questions about You
• What do you do ?
• Where are you staying currently?
• Who are you staying with?
• Where will you stay in USA?
• Who will bare the expenses while you are in USA or who will financially support you in the US?
• Who will pay for your trip to the US?
• Do any of your relatives/friends live in USA?
• Do you plan to Work in US?
• Do you plan to Study in USA ?
Questions about your L1 visa spouse
• What is your spouse’s date of birth?
• Which university did your spouse graduate from?
• What is your spouse’s highest degree?
• Which company does your spouse work for?
• Who is sponsoring in your husbands L1 visa?
• Where is his employer located?
• Where are his clients located?
• What kind of work does your spouse do at the USA Company?
• How long has your spouse been in USA?
• How long has your spouse been working for the sponsoring company?
• What will you do after your visa is completed/expired?
• How much he is earning or what is the pay of your spouse or what is the annual income of your spouse?
• Can I see some pay stubs from your spouse’s paycheck?
• Can I have a look at your spouse’s bank statements?
• Have your spouse applied for green card?
Who is eligible?
• Certain multinational executives and managers
• Outstanding professors and researchers
• Those who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
Certain Multinational Executives and Managers
Some executives and managers of foreign companies who are transferred to the US may qualify. A multinational 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 employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer.
The petitioner must be a US employer, doing business for at least one year, that is an affiliate, a subsidiary, or the same employer as the firm, corporation or other legal entity that employed the foreign national abroad.
No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.
Outstanding Professors and Researchers
Outstanding professors and researchers are recognized internationally for their outstanding academic achievements in a particular field. In addition, an outstanding professor or researcher must have at least three years experience in teaching or research in that academic area, and enter the US in a tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. If the employer is a private company rather than a university or educational institution, the department, division, or institute of the private employer must employ at least three persons full time in research activities and have achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field. Evidence that the professor or researcher is recognized as outstanding in the academic field must include documentation of at least two of the following:
|1.||Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement;|
|2.||Membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievements;|
|3.||Published material in professional publications written by others about the alien’s work in the academic field;|
|4.||Participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field;|
|5.||Original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field;|
|6.||Authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field.|
No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.
There are two ways to satisfy the requirements for an EB-1 immigrant visa for extraordinary ability. The first is receiving a major, internationally recognized award. Fortunately for those who haven’t won any world famous prizes yet, the second set of standards is not as difficult to achieve. If you have fulfilled at least three of the following ten standards, you may also qualify:
- Receipt of a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize for achievement in your field. This could include a medical fellowship, a Fulbright award, or a Caldecott award.
- Membership in associations in your field that require “outstanding achievement” of their members. This standard is relatively vague. Associations that are open to all members of a given profession can be considered, but associations that limit membership to only the most accomplished members of the profession are certainly more valuable.
- Material published about you in major trade publications or other major media. The material must concern your work in the field. Publications could range from journals specific to your field, like The Journal of Otolaryngology, to major newspapers, like The New York Times. You are not limited to print; a story about you on “60 Minutes” might also fulfill this requirement.
- Serving as a judge of others in your field either individually or on a panel. Sitting on the Nobel Prize Committee would fulfill the requirement, as would participating in the peer review process of a scientific article or acting as a member of a thesis review committee.
- Original, scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance in your field. This standard is wide open. Basically, USCIS will base its judgment of your contribution on the letters of support that others in the field submit. So letters from recognized authorities in your field who consider your contributions original and significant will satisfy this requirement.
- Authorship of scholarly articles in your field. This refers to articles that you wrote concerning your work rather than material written about you by others, as is the case with standard 3 above. Again, the publications can range from major trade journals to mass media. Although the regulations refer specifically to “articles,” other forms of publication such as visual media should fulfill this requirement.
- Display of your work in exhibitions or showcases. The regulations do not mention how prestigious the exhibition must be.
- Performing a critical or leading role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation. This could be acting as curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art or serving as an essential researcher for an important laboratory.
- Commanding a high salary in your field. The regulation requires that your salary or remuneration be high in relation to others in the field, so a teacher need not make as much as a professional football player.
- Commercial success in the performing arts. This can be demonstrated by box office receipts from your films or plays, sales of your record, or selling your video documentary to a network for a notable sum.
Satisfying three out of the ten criteria does not guarantee that USCIS will grant you EB-1 classification as an alien of extraordinary ability. USCIS looks for quality as well as quantity. As in so many other aspects of immigration law, comprehensive documentation of your qualifications is very important.
EB1(A) ALIEN WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
I. Qualifications for Extraordinary Ability
EB1(a) is set aside for aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. To qualify for this category, you must establish that your level of expertise has made you “one of those small percentages of individuals who have risen to the very top of the field”. You must show that you have sustained national or international acclaim and that your achievements have been recognized within the field. A specific job offer is not required as long as you are entering the United States to continue work in the field in which you has extraordinary ability. Therefore, you may file your own petition with the USCIS for classification in this preference, rather than having the petition filed by an employer.
In order to demonstrate your eligibility for such classification, we must provide evidence of:
• Receipt of a major, internationally-recognized award, such as the Nobel Prize, or
• At least three of the following forms of documentation:
• Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor.
• Membership in association in the field which require outstanding achievements of their members (as judged by recognized national or international experts in the discipline or fields)
• There is published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media relating to the your work
• Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the field.
• Evidence of your original scientific or scholarly contributions of major significance in your field.
• Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in the field in professional journals or other major media.
• Evidence of your employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.
• Evidence that you have commanded a high salary or other significantly high
• Evidence of the display of your work in the field at artistic exhibitions or showcases in more than one country
• Evidence of commercial success in the performing arts, as shown by boxoffice receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.
II. Documentation Requirements
• Provide an updated curriculum vitae
• List of and Copies of Award Certificates, pictures of trophies, titles, medals, national
• and international appearances in competitions
• Copies of interviews, print and online articles in national and trade publications, tvappearances
• Copies of your published articles
• Copies of letters you may have received inviting you to participate in conferences,submit papers or to judge others.
• Letters of reference from experts in your field detailing your outstanding
• Information on your membership in any professional/scientific Specifically, what are the requirements of membership, i.e., isnomination required? is a certain degree level required? etc. Also, any evidence ofmembership (certificates, membership cards, etc.).
• Documentation that you have commanded a high salary or remuneration
• Documentation that your work was showcased, exhibited
• Documentation of commercial success in the performing arts, as shown by boxoffice receipts or record, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.
If you have any other documentation in your possession which you believe should be submitted to USCIS, please forward copies to us. We will discuss the requirements in further details on our next conference call.