How to Get a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate

Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate?

 

As an immigration lawyer for investors and entrepreneurs, one of the questions that I get asked is: “Can I get a green card through investment in real estate?” To cut to the chase, the answer is: it depends.

 

In this guide, I'm going to discuss how to get a green card through investment in real estate. More specifically, I'm going to discuss the EB-5 visa (an investment based visa) and how to use this visa to get a green card by investing in real estate.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I'm very responsive to emails and would be happy to help you.

Overview:

 

1. Intro to Investment-Based Immigration and the EB-5 Visa

 

2. EB-5 Visa Requirements

 

3. Issue #1 With Getting a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate Using EB-5: New Commercial Enterprise Requirement

 

4. Issue #2 With Getting a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate Using EB-5: Job Creation Requirement

 

5. Solution 1: Purchase Real Estate to Operate Your Business on

 

6. Solution 2: Invest in an EB-5 Regional Center

 

7. Conclusion

1. Introduction to Investment-Based Immigration and the EB-5 Visa

 

  • There are special visa classifications for people to get visas based on making an investment in the United States.

 

  • The E2 visa and the EB-5 visa, are both visas issued to people based on making an investment in a US company.

 

  • The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, so it does not directly lead to a green card.

 

  • The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, so it does lead to a green card.

 

  • The EB-5 visa is the closest way to get a green card through an investment in real estate. So, for purposes of this article, we will discuss the EB-5 visa.

2. EB-5 Visa Requirements

 

The EB-5 visa allows foreign investors to get a green card based on making an investment in a US company. The investor is required to make a minimum investment of $1,800,000. In some circumstances, an investor can qualify to make a reduced investment of $900,000 (instead of $1,800,000) if the investment is located in an economically depressed area called a “targeted employment area.” The investor’s investment must also lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for qualified US workers.

Here’s a list of the requirements to get an EB-5 green card:

 

1. Invest in a new commercial enterprise (we will discuss what this is below);

 

2. Invest a minimum of $1,800,000 in the new commercial enterprise. (Or $900,000 if the investment is located in a targeted employment area);

 

3. Investment must lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for qualified US workers;

 

4. The investment funds must have been obtained lawfully;

 

5. Your investment is “at-risk” meaning that it is subject to gain or loss. (The investment funds can’t just sit in an operating account, they should actually be spent);

 

6. You must engage in the management of the business.

 

Now that you know the requirements to get an EB-5 visa, lets go over the two main issues when it comes to getting a green card through an investment in real estate:

 

  • New Commercial Enterprise Requirement

 

  • Job Creation Requirement 

3.  Issue #1 With Getting a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate Using EB-5: New Commercial Enterprise Requirement

New Commercial Enterprise

 

  • To get an EB-5 green card, you are required to invest in a new commercial enterprise.

 

  • A new commercial enterprise is a for profit business formed after November 29,1990 that is engaged in lawful activities.

 

The Federal Regulations  define commercial enterprise as follows:

 

  • Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to, a sole proprietorship, partnership (whether limited or general), holding company, joint venture, corporation, business trust, or other entity which may be publicly or privately owned. This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business. This definition shall not include a noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence. [8 CFR Section 204.6 (e) ]

 

  • The federal regulations regarding EB-5 clearly state that certain real estate investments are noncommercial activity and therefore would not meet the new commercial enterprise requirement.

 

  • We will discuss a potential solution to overcome this issue below.
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4. Issue #2 With Getting a Green Card Through Investment in Real Estate Using EB-5: Job Creation Requirement

 

Job Creation

 

As I stated earlier, to get an EB-5 green card, your investment must lead to the creation of 10 full-time jobs for qualified US workers. One of the main issues with making an investment in real estate is that this will most likely not lead to the creation of 10 jobs for US workers. We will discuss a potential solution to this issue below.

5. Solution 1: Purchase Real Estate to Operate Your Business On

 

To get an EB-5 green card, you are required to invest a minimum of $1,800,000 (or $900,000) in a US business. Your investment capital must have some sort of connection (or “nexus”) to the creation of jobs. One solution to overcome both of the issues specified above regarding the commercial enterprise requirement and the job creation requirement, is to start a business or invest in an existing business and purchase the real estate on which the business will operate.

 

I’ll explain how this works:

 

  • You start a business in the US or purchase an existing business in the US to qualify for an EB-5 green card.

 

  • Rather than leasing the commercial space that the business operates on, you purchase the real estate as part of your overall investment.

 

  • In order for the investment in real estate to count toward your EB-5 minimum investment amount, you will have to show the connection between the investment and the creation of jobs. Your immigration lawyer can help you with this process.

 

  • By purchasing the real estate that the business operates on, a large portion of your EB-5 investment would go toward the purchase of real estate.

 

  • Your business will still have to satisfy the “new commercial enterprise” requirement as well as the other EB-5 visa requirements.

 

 

As you can see from the solution presented above, there is a way to get a green card through an investment in real estate.

 

This method is not exactly a traditional real estate investment. You will actually be required to operate a business and create jobs. Still, this is an option to should consider if you are looking for ways to get a green card by investing in real estate.

6. Solution 2: Invest in an EB-5 Regional Center 

 

Regional centers are business organizations designated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that sponsor various EB-5 projects. EB-5 regional centers gather investments from several EB-5 investors to fund their projects. Many of the EB-5 projects sponsored by regional centers are major real estate developments such as hotels and condominium complexes. By investing in a regional center, you become a partial owner of the project you decide to invest in. So, by investing in a regional center, you could very possibly be investing in real estate, depending on the project you choose.

 

  • Keep in mind, the regional center is still required to meet all of the requirements of the EB-5 visa.

 

  • One of the benefits of investing in a regional center is that the administrators of the regional center project will be in charge of complying with the EB-5 visa requirements.

 

  • By investing in a regional center, your role is very limited and mainly involves making the minimum investment amount.

 

 

Disclaimer: The above information is general information and is not investment advice. This is not a substitute for professional investment advice.

7. Conclusion

 

At this point, you should know that there are ways to get a green card through an investment in real estateHowever, this process is not as simple as just buying a house, or a commercial building. The closest way to get a green card through real estate investment is through the EB-5 visa.

 

Even through the EB-5 visa process, you still must make sure that your investment meets the definition of a “new commercial enterprise” and that you satisfy the job creation requirements of the EB-5 visa.

 

Although these requirements can be challenging to satisfy, there are potential solutions, including:

 

  • starting a business or investing in an existing business and purchasing the land you operate the business on; 

 

  • or investing in an approved EB-5 regional center

 

Please keep in mind that the topics discussed today are highly detailed and complex. You should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer early on.

 

If you have any questions regarding the EB-5 Visa or any of the information covered in this article, please send me an email directly to Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I'm happy to answer your questions.

 

Ashoori Law is a full-service immigration law firm focused on helping investors and entrepreneurs get visas to the United States. Got a question? Lets talk about it. My team and I would be happy to assist you.

 

Resources:

 

 

 

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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.