USA is a beautiful country and is considered to be the land of freedom and opportunity. Many people have been immigrating to the USA since past many years.

Common reasons are

  • Jobs and business opportunities
  • To escape poverty
  • To seek superior healthcare
  • To escape conflict or violence in their home countries
  • To escape past or possible future persecution based on race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion
  • To find refuge after being displaced due to environmental factors
  • To offer more opportunities to children
  • Family reunification
  • Educational purposes

    History of Immigration to US

Origins of the U.S Immigrant Population: 1960-2016

Year Europe/Canada South and East Asia Other Latin America Mexico
1960 84% 4% 4% 6%
1970 68% 7% 11% 8%
1980 42% 15% 16% 16%
1990 26% 22% 21% 22%
2000 19% 23% 22% 29%
2010 15% 25% 24% 29%
2011 15% 25% 24% 29%
2012 14% 26% 24% 28%
2013 14% 26% 24% 28%
2014 14% 26% 24% 28%
2015 14% 27% 24% 27%
2016 13% 27% 25% 26%

Note: “Other Latin America” includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean.

Source: Pew Research Center tabulations of 1960-2000 decennial censuses and 2010, 2013-2016 American Community Surveys (IPUMS).

Foreign-born Population in the United States, 1850-2016

Source: U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and Pew Research Center tabulations of 2010, 2013-2016 American Community Surveys (IPUMS).

Notes:

The term “immigrants” (also known as the foreign born) refers to people residing in the United States who were not U.S. citizens at birth. This population includes naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents (LPRs), certain legal non-immigrants (e.g., persons on student or work visas), those admitted under refugee or asylee status, and persons illegally residing in the United States.

Denied Entry to USA?

There are reasons why travellers may be denied entry to the US at the border. Most common reasons are

  • They have previously worked illegally in the US
  • They are suspected of being intended immigrants who will overstay their visas
  • They are suspected of having ties to terrorist or criminal organizations
  • They have overstayed a previous visit to the US
  • They do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while there
  • They have health issues like “communicable disease”, “a physical or mental disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to [the person] or others” or “a drug abuser or addict”
  • They have been found guilty of a criminal offence

Employment Based Immigration Visas

There are various Employment-Based Immigration visa categories to move to US that give you green cards and you become eligible for permanent residence:

  • Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-4
  • Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference EB-5

You may be eligible for an employment-based, first-preference visa if you have an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager. Each occupational category has certain requirements that must be met:

Eligibility Criteria

Categories Description Evidence
Extraordinary Ability You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required. You must meet 3 of 10 criteria* below, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal)
 
Outstanding professors and researchers You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. You must have at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in that academic area. You must be entering the United States in order to pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. You must include documentation of at least two listed below** and an offer of employment from the prospective U.S. employer.
Multinational manager or executive You must have been employed outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation and you must be seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization. Your 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. Your petitioning employer must be a U.S. employer. Your employer must have been doing business for at least 1 year, as an affiliate, a subsidiary, or as the same corporation or other legal entity that employed you abroad.

Criteria for Demonstrating Extraordinary Ability
You must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in your field:

  • Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
  • Evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel
  • Evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
  • Evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
  • Evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
  • Evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
  • Evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
  • Evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts

** Examples of Documentary Evidence That A Person is an Outstanding Professor Or Researcher

  • Evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement
  • Evidence of membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement
  • Evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the alien’s work in the academic field
  • Evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field
  • Evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field
  • Evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field

Application Process

  • Extraordinary Ability:You may petition for yourself by filing a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
  • Outstanding Professors and Researchers:Your employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
  • Multinational Manager or Executive:Your employer must file USCIS Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.


You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability. Below are the occupational categories and requirements:

Eligibility Criteria

Sub-Categories Description Evidence
Advanced Degree The job you apply for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field). Documentation, such as an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty.
 
Exceptional Ability You must be able to show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.” You must meet at least three of the criteria below.*
National Interest Waiver Aliens seeking a national interest waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. Though the jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by statute, national interest waivers are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation. Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. You must meet at least three of the criteria below* and demonstrate that it is in the national interest that you work permanently in the United States.

* Criteria

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

Note: Employment-based, second-preference petitions must generally be accompanied by an approved individual labor certification from the Department of Labor on Form ETA-750.

To qualify for an EB-2 visa, your employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.

Family of EB-2 Visa Holders

Your spouse and children under the age of 21 may be admitted to the United States in E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively. During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).


You may be eligible for this immigrant visa preference category if you are a skilled worker, professional, or other worker.

  • “Skilled workers” are persons whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature
  • “Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent and are a member of the professions
  • The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Eligibility Criteria

Sub-categories Evidence Certification
Skilled Workers You must be able to demonstrate at least 2 years of job experience or training
You must be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States
Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer required.
Professionals You must be able to demonstrate that you possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign degree equivalent, and that a baccalaureate degree is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation
You must be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States
Education and experience may not be substituted for a baccalaureate degree
Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer required.
Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) You must be capable, at the time the petition is filed on your behalf, of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than 2 years training or experience), that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer required.

Note: While eligibility requirements for the third preference classification are less stringent, you should be aware that a long backlog exists for visas in the “other workers” category.

U.S. Department of Labor – Labor Certification

Third preference petitions must generally be accompanied by an approved, individual labor certification from the Department of Labor on Form ETA-9089. In some cases, the petition may be submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) with an uncertified ETA-9089 for consideration as Schedule A, Group I.

Application Process

Your employer (petitioner) must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. As part of the application process, your employer must be able to demonstrate an ability to pay the offered wage as of your visa priority date. Your employer may use an annual report, federal income tax return, or audited financial statement to demonstrate an ability to pay your wage.

Family of EB-3 Visa Holders

Your spouse may be admitted to the United States in E34 (spouse of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW4 (spouse of an “other worker”). During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Your minor children (under the age of 21) may be admitted as E35 (child of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW5 (child of an “other worker”).


You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:

  • Religious Workers
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles
  • Broadcasters
  • G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Their Family Members
  • International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad
  • Armed Forces Members
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees
  • Certain Physicians
  • Afghan and Iraqi Translators
  • Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations

*Statutory authorization for the EB-4 non-minister special immigrant program for certain religious workers is scheduled to expire on Dec. 8, 2017. Therefore, visas are unavailable for that category after that date.  Religious workers who are not ministers will not be eligible after that date unless Congress enacts, and the President approves, a law extending their eligibility.

Petitioning for an Employment-Based Fourth Preference Immigrant

To petition for an employment-based fourth preference immigrant, your employer must file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. However, there are certain situations where you, the employee, may self-petition on your own behalf. Please review the form instructions to see if you are eligible to self-petition and what required supporting evidence needs to be included.

Family of EB-4 Visa Holders

Some EB-4 classifications allow derivative beneficiaries. Your spouse may also be admitted to the United States. Your children, unmarried under the age of 21, may be admitted to the United States.

Broadcasters

Under section 203(b)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the International Broadcasting Bureau of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), or a grantee of the BBG, may petition for an alien (and the alien’s accompanying spouse and children) to work as a broadcaster for the BBG or a grantee of the BBG in the United States. For the purposes of this section, the terms:

  • BBG grantee means Radio Free Asia, Inc (RFA) or Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc. (RFE/RL)
  • Broadcaster means a reporter, writer, translator, editor, producer or announcer for news broadcasts; hosts for news broadcasts, news analysis, editorial and other broadcast features; or a news analysis specialist. The term broadcaster does not include individuals performing purely technical or support services for the BBG or a BBG grantee.

All Form I-360 petitions submitted by the BBG or a BBG grantee on behalf of an alien for a broadcaster position with the BBG or BBG grantee must be accompanied by a signed and dated supplemental attestation that contains the following information about the prospective alien broadcaster:

(i)  The job title and a full description of the job to be performed; and

(ii) The broadcasting expertise held by the alien, including how long the alien has been performing duties that relate to the prospective position or a statement as to how the alien possesses the necessary skills that make him or her qualified for the broadcasting-related position within the BBG or BBG grantee.

Follow the instructions on Form I-360 on where to file your petition.


USCIS administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

This program is known as EB-5 for the name of the employment-based fifth preference visa that participants receive.

Congress created the EB-5 Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. In 1992, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as the Regional Center Program. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers approved by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.

About the EB-5 Visa Classification

Visa Classification Description

USCIS administers the EB-5 program, created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a program initially enacted as a pilot in 1992, and regularly reauthorized since then, investors may also qualify for EB-5 classification by investing through regional centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth. On Sept. 28, 2018, the President signed Public Law 115-245 extending the Regional Center Program through Dec. 7, 2018.

All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:

  • Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
  • Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
  1. Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results,

Or

  1. Expanded through the investment so that at least a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs

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.

Note: This definition does not include non-commercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.

Job Creation Requirements

An EB-5 investor must invest the required amount of capital in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying  employees.  

  • For a new commercial enterprise not located within a regional center,the full-time positions must be created directly by the new commercial enterprise to be counted. This means that the new commercial enterprise (or its wholly owned subsidiaries) must itself be the employer of the qualifying employees.
  • For a new commercial enterprise located within a regional center, the full-time positions can be created either directly or indirectly by the new commercial enterprise.
    • Direct jobs are those jobs that establish an employer-employee relationship between the new commercial enterprise and the persons it employs.
    • Indirect jobs are those jobs held outside of the new commercial enterprise but that are created as a result of the new commercial enterprise.
  • In the case of a troubled business, the EB-5 investor may rely on job maintenance.
    • The investor must show that the number of existing employees is being,or will be,maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2 

troubled business is a business that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. For purposes of determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.

qualifying employee is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States including, but not limited to, a conditional resident, a temporary resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any non-immigrant status (such as an H-1B non-immigrant) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.

Full-time employment means employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the regional center program, “full-time employment” also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week.

job-sharing arrangement whereby two or more qualifying employees share a full-time position will count as full-time employment provided the hourly requirement per week is met. This definition does not include combinations of part-time positions even if, when combined, the positions meet the hourly requirement per week.

Jobs that are intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature do not qualify as permanent full-time jobs. However, jobs that are expected to last at least 2 years are generally not considered intermittent, temporary, seasonal, or transient in nature.

Capital Investment Requirements

Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered capital for the purposes of section 203(b) (5) of the Act.

Note: The immigrant investor must establish that he or she is the legal owner of the capital invested. Capital can include the immigrant investor’s promise to pay (a promissory note) under certain circumstances.

Required minimum investments are:

  • The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
  • Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.

targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area which has experienced unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.

rural area is any area not within either a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the most recent decennial census of the United States.

EB-5 Investors

Petition/Application Process

  1. File Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
  2. Following approval of the Form I-526 petition, either:
  • File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
  • File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa abroad to seek admission to the United States. 

Upon the approval of a Form I-485 application or upon admission into the United States with an EB-5 immigrant visa, the EB-5 investor and derivative family members will be granted conditional permanent residence for a 2-year period.

Removing Conditions

File Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status, within the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of the EB-5 investor’s admission to the United States as a conditional permanent resident.

If USCIS approves this petition, the conditions will be removed from the lawful permanent resident status of the EB-5 investor and any included dependents.

Form I-526 Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur

Requirements Supporting Documents (Evidence)*
New Commercial Enterprise Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing in a “for profit” new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
1.   Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
2.   Expanded through the investment so that at least a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Evidence, if applicable, that the new commercial enterprise has been established and, if you seek eligibility under the reduced investment amount, evidence regarding the targeted employment area (TEA).
Managing the New Commercial Enterprise Evidence that you are or will be engaged in the management of the new commercial enterprise (either through day-to-day managerial control or through policy formulation).
Investment Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital ($1 million or, if the qualifying investment is within a TEA, $500,000). 
Evidence that the investment capital was obtained through lawful means. The petition must be accompanied, as applicable, by:
Foreign business registration records;
Corporate, partnership (or other entity), and personal tax returns, or other tax returns of any kind filed within 5 years, with any taxing jurisdiction in or outside the United States by you or on your behalf;
Evidence identifying any other source of capital; or
Certified copies of any judgments or evidence of all pending civil or criminal actions, governmental administrative proceedings, and any private civil actions (pending or otherwise) involving money judgments against you from any court in or outside the United States within the past 15 years.
 Job Creation Evidence that the new commercial enterprise will create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees. If the requisite employees have not already been hired, you will need to submit a comprehensive business plan showing that, due to the nature and projected size of the new commercial enterprise, the need for at least 10 qualifying employees will result.
Job Preservation–Troubled Business Evidence that the number of existing employees is being or will be maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2 years. Submit photocopies of tax records; Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification; or other relevant documents for the qualifying employees and a comprehensive business plan in support of the petition.

Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions

You must submit Form I-829 within the 90-day period immediately before the second anniversary of your admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident.

Requirements  Supporting Documents (Evidence)*
Investment Evidence that you invested or are actively in the process of investing in a new commercial enterprise. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, copies of the business’ organizational documents and federal tax returns.
Evidence that you have invested or are actively in the process of investing the required amount of capital. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to, an audited financial statement or other probative evidence.
Evidence that you have sustained your investment in the new commercial enterprise throughout your 2-year period of conditional permanent residence. This evidence may include, but is not limited to, the following:
Invoices and receipts;
Bank statements;
Contracts;
Business licenses;
Federal or state income tax returns; and
Federal or state income quarterly tax statements.
 Job Creation Evidence that you created or will create within a reasonable time 10 full-time jobs for qualifying employees. Such evidence may include, but is not limited to:
Payroll records
Relevant tax documents; and
Forms I-9 for employees.
Job Preservation–Troubled Business The same documentation for job creation listed above, except the evidence must show that the commercial enterprise maintained the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for the period following the investor’s admission as a conditional permanent resident.


    There are other work visas available in investor category:

  • L-1 Work Visa– this is another work visa for Canadians and others Foreign Nationals that they wish to expand their business into the US market.
  • E2 Work Visa– this is a US work visa obtained by investing in the US.

E-2 Treaty Investors

The E-2 non-immigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.  Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.

Who May File for Change of Status to E-2 Classification

If the treaty investor is currently in the United States in a lawful non-immigrant status, he or she may file Form I-129 to request a change of status to E-2 classification.  If the desired employee is currently in the United States in a lawful non-immigrant status, the qualifying employer may file Form I-129 on the employee’s behalf.

How to Obtain E-2 Classification if Outside the United States

A request for E-2 classification may not be made on Form I-129 if the person being filed for is physically outside the United States.  Interested parties should refer to the U.S. Department of State website for further information about applying for an E-2 non-immigrant visa abroad.  Upon issuance of a visa, the person may then apply to a DHS immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry for admission as an E-2 non-immigrant.   

General Qualifications of a Treaty Investor

To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.  This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

An investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit.  The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.  The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.

substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

bona fide enterprise refers to a real, active and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.  It must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction.

Marginal Enterprises

The investment enterprise may not be marginal.  A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.  Depending on the facts, a new enterprise might not be considered marginal even if it lacks the current capacity to generate such income.  In such cases, however, the enterprise should have the capacity to generate such income within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E-2 classification begins. 

General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Investor

To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country.  These owners must be maintaining non-immigrant treaty investor status.  If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as non-immigrant treaty investors.

Duties which are of an executive or supervisory character are those which primarily provide the employee ultimate control and responsibility for the organization’s overall operation, or a major component of it. 

Special qualifications are skills which make the employee’s services essential to the efficient operation of the business. There are several qualities or circumstances which could, depending on the facts, meet this requirement.  These include, but are not limited to:   

  • The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations
  • Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills
  • The salary that the special qualifications can command
  • Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States.

Knowledge of a foreign language and culture does not, by itself, meet this requirement.  Note that in some cases a skill that is essential at one point in time may become commonplace, and therefore no longer qualifying, at a later date.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 non-immigrant may be granted.  All E-2 non-immigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

An E-2 non-immigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.  It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 with USCIS in this situation.

Terms and Conditions of E-2 Status

A treaty investor or employee may only work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.  An E-2 employee, however, may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries as long as the:

  • Relationship between the organizations is established
  • Subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills
  • Terms and conditions of employment have not otherwise changed.

Family of E-2 Treaty Investors and Employees

Treaty investors and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty investor or employee.  These family members may seek E-2 non-immigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.  If the family members are already in the United States and are seeking change of status to or extension of stay in an E-2 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee.  Spouses of E-2 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee.  If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work.

As discussed above, the E-2 treaty investor or employee may travel abroad and will generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.  Unless the family members are accompanying the E-2 treaty investor or employee at the time the latter seeks readmission to the United States, the new readmission period will not apply to the family members.  To remain lawfully in the United States, family members must carefully note the period of stay they have been granted in E-2 status, and apply for an extension of stay before their own validity expires. 

What is a Green Card?

Green Card is the permit allowing immigrants to permanently live and work in the United States of America.

The official name of the US Green Card is “Lawful Permanent Resident Card”.

Green Card holders can choose their place of work or where they want to live in the USA without limits and for however long they want.

Eligibility Categories

In order to apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below.

  • Green Card through Family
  • Green Card through Employment

You may be eligible to apply as a …  If you are the …
Immediate relative of a U.S. citizen
  • Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
Other relative of a U.S. citizen or relative of a lawful permanent resident under the family-based preference categories
  • Family member of a U.S. citizen, meaning you are the:
    • Unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you are 21 years old or older
    • Married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
    • Brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
  • Family member of a lawful permanent resident, meaning you are the:
    • Spouse of a lawful permanent resident
    • Unmarried child under the age of 21 of a lawful permanent resident
    • Unmarried son or daughter of a lawful permanent resident 21 years old or older
Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child
  • Person admitted to the U.S. as a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-1 non-immigrant)
  • Person admitted to the U.S. as the child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen (K-2 non-immigrant)
Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to your U.S. citizen spouse at the time your spouse died
 VAWA self-petitioner – victim of battery or
extreme cruelty
  • Abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Abused child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • Abused parent of a U.S. citizen


You may be eligible to apply as a…  If you…
Immigrant worker
  • Are a first preference immigrant worker, meaning you:
    • Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or
    • Are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
    • Are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
  • Are a second preference immigrant worker, meaning you:
    • Are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree, or
    • Have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or
    • Are seeking a national interest waiver
  • Are a third preference immigrant worker, meaning you are:
    • A skilled worker (meaning your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience), or
    •  A professional (meaning your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession), or
    • An unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience)
Physician National Interest Waiver Are a physician who agrees to work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a set period of time and also meets other eligibility requirements
Immigrant investor Have invested or are actively in the process of investing at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees

What is a lawful permanent resident?

A lawful permanent resident is someone who has been granted the right to live in the United States indefinitely. Permanent residence includes the right to work in the U.S. for most employers or for yourself. Permanent residents continue to hold citizenship of another country. 

Permanent residents are issued an “alien registration card,” known informally as a green card (because at one time the card was green in color).  You may use your green card to prove employment eligibility and apply for a social security card.

Can I travel outside the U.S. as a permanent resident? 

A permanent resident may travel outside the U.S. and must present the valid alien registration card when re-entering the U.S.  In addition, a permanent resident should travel with an unexpired passport of another country. 

Each time you return to the U.S., you are subject to the same grounds of inadmissibility as when you were approved for permanent resident status (e.g., health-related concerns, certain criminal activity, terrorism, national security, public charge, willful misrepresentation and false claims to U.S. citizenship). 

What are my responsibilities as a permanent resident?

Permanent residents are required to:

  • File U.S. income tax returns as a resident
  • Obey all laws of the U.S., states and localities
  • Register for the Selective Service (if you are male and between age 18 through 25)
  • Support the democratic form of government
  • Notify the USCIS of any changes of address using Form AR-11

When do permanent residents become eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship?

After a certain length of time – five years in most cases, three years for spouses of U.S. citizens – permanent residents may apply to become a U.S. citizen through a process called naturalization. 

Additional requirements for naturalization include:

  • Good moral character
  • Ability to read, write and speak English
  • Understanding of U.S. history and government
  • Continuous residence in the U.S. as a permanent resident for at least 5 years preceding the application for naturalization and physical presence in the U.S. for at least half that time
  • Residence in the state or USCIS district where the application is made for at least 3 months prior to the application. The application is filed using Form N-400 (application for naturalization).

Can I lose my permanent residence?

Yes. If you commit certain crimes or other violations, you may be placed in removal proceedings and become subject to deportation. 

Also, if you remain outside the U.S. for extended periods of time (typically more than 6 months at a time), the immigration authorities may scrutinize your situation to determine if you have abandoned your intention to make the U.S. your permanent home.  Any absences of one year leads to the presumption that you have abandoned your permanent residence.  It is extremely difficult to overcome that presumption.

If you know you will be outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, you may wish to apply for a re-entry permit prior to your departure.  A re-entry permit is typically issued with a 2 year validity, and does not guarantee that you will be granted entry to the U.S., but it can assist in establishing your intention to reside permanently in the U.S.

What are some of the benefits of U.S. citizenship?

A U.S. citizen may apply for a U.S. passport, issued by the U.S. State department. Many countries allow visa-free travel for U.S. citizens.

A U.S. citizen can leave and re-enter the U.S. at any time without being subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. There are no restrictions on the amount of time you can remain outside the United States.

U.S. citizens can vote in U.S. federal and local elections, hold certain government jobs, and serve on juries. Many federal and state government grants, scholarships and benefits are available only to U.S. citizens.

U.S. citizens are eligible for special security clearance required for some jobs, both with the U.S. government and other employers.

As a U.S. citizen, you can petition for certain relatives to immigrate to the U.S. Your spouse, unmarried children under age 21, and parents will be considered immediate relatives, and will not have to wait to receive permanent resident status (beyond the processing time of the petition and interview process). Your married children and children over age 21, as well as your brothers and sisters, are considered preference relatives, and can be put on a waiting list to immigrate. The waiting period for siblings can be several years.

U.S. citizens cannot be deported from the United States, unless they committed fraud or made a misrepresentation to obtain their green card or citizenship.