If you’re interested in acquiring a US citizenship, the fastest way to do that is through a Citizenship by Investment programme. It requires the investor in question to become a green card holder first and then apply for a US citizenship after 3 years.
A green card is a residence permit that allows people to freely live, work, and travel to the US without the need for a visa. It is usually valid for up to 10 years and can be reapplied for after this period expires. However, interested candidates must live in the country for a minimum of 183 days per year to sustain their green card holder status.
The green card offers the same rights to an investor and his family as other American citizens, except that they cannot vote or hold public offices. The EB-5 Immigrant Visa programme was started by US government in 1990, and since then, thousands of foreign nationals have benefited from it.
Things you need to know to get an EB-5 Immigrant Visa
Getting an EB-5 immigrant visa is the fastest way for investors to get a US visa, but it is also the most expensive. The US government issues a yearly EB-5 immigrant visa quota of 10,000 visas, but this number was recently doubled in 2021. A minimum investment of $900,000 is required if you’re interested in acquiring this immigrant visa and the amount can go up to $1.8 million.
Interested investors can either create a company in the US from scratch or invest this sum through regional centers which are tasked with the economic development of rural or suburban areas that have higher unemployment rates. These regional centers work as a bridge between immigrant investors and local projects that can have a positive socio-economic impact on local communities.
If the investor in question prefers to invest by themselves, then the company that they invest in should be opened by them, it must be a for-profit entity, should lead to the creation of at least 10 jobs for a minimum period of 2 years, and the investor must be involved in the day-to-day management and the future strategy of the company.
On the other hand, regional centers make the entire process relatively easy and seamless. Investors do not need to create jobs directly, build a company from scratch, or take an active part in the management of the business. Additionally, the investor may also be able to see a return on their investment in the form of passive income ranging from 0.25% to 2% per year.
Process of obtaining citizenship through EB-5 visa
Here are the five steps through which foreign investors can obtain an EB-5 visa.
Step 1: Pick a suitable project to invest in
The first step of the process is to search for a suitable project for investment. This can either be done directly or through regional centers.
Step 2: Start the investment process
Once you’ve shortlisted the project you would like to invest into, the second step is to invest the amount, or transfer the payment to the required company account.
Step 3: Submit your petition
At this stage, you are ready to submit a petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In this document, an investor can talk about himself and his family and shares documentary evidence of the investments made, highlights the investments’ legality, along with a business plan showcasing future intention.
USCIS normally can take anywhere from 12-18 months to process your application. Once the application is accepted, the primary candidate along with the family are invited to the American embassy (at their country of residence) for an interview. After this step is complete, a temporary Green Card is issued.
Step 4: Your temporary residential permit
During this phase of your naturalization process, as an investor you need to ensure that you’re following through and meeting all the relevant requirements of the programme. This includes the creation and maintenance of 10 jobs and staying in the country for more than 6 months a year. If any of these conditions are violated or remain unmet, chance are that the permanent green card will be canceled.
Step 5: Acquiring the permanent green card
After spending a year and 9 months in the US, you are now ready to submit another petition titled I-829 with the USCIS, requesting them to change your status and provide you with a permanent green card. At this step, you need to have proof that you’ve been meeting all the necessary requirements including successfully running your business, creating the required number of jobs, etc. The review can take anywhere from 6 to 8 months. If all goes well, the investor and his family will be given a permanent green card.
Step 6: Becoming a US citizen
The standard requirement for naturalisation includes applying for a citizenship after 5 years of acquiring a green card, but as an EB-5 visa holder, you have the added benefit of applying within 3 years of the permanent green card issue. If you have a spouse or children over 18 years of age, each member of the family will have to pass a basic test for the English language along with a naturalisation interview that will test your knowledge related to US history and government.
US immigration is best suited for people who are ready to pay taxes and intend to reside within the country for extended periods of time. But if you’re looking for Citizenship by Investment programmes that help you save a hefty portion of your taxes, allow visa free travel, and more, then Caribbean countries may offer a suitable alternative.
Want to see how you can utilize Citizenship by Investment to acquire dual citizenship in the right country? Book a free consultation with one of our expert advisors today to learn more.