Green card through investment

This green card category is also known as the ‘millionaire's green card.' A person who wants to set up a new business in the US that will create at least 10 jobs for US citizens, can qualify for the green card as an investor.

EXAMPLE: Ludwig from Leipzig hopes to introduce ‘Leipziger Lager,' a German beer, on the US market. Ludwig believes that the best way to do this is to invest in a small brewery in Milwaukee that has a distribution system for the entire Mid-West. In order to be able to control his investment, Ludwig applies for a permanent residence permit. In case he meets the requirements, he will qualify for a green card.

There are two criteria you must meet in order to qualify:

1. The investment

Kinds of investment: An investment for this purpose is providing capital for a business. Investment capital may be in different forms, it can be cash, equipment and stocks. Capital can also be in the form of certificates of deposit or long-term treasury bonds. Loans can also serve as investment capital here, if they are secured by assets in possession of the investor. The condition is that the investor is absolutely liable and the assets of the US business are not being used as a security against debt.

Investment sum: The minimum sum of investment for immigration in this category is $1,000,000. Only half of that is necessary if the investment is made in a rural area or an economically weak region. So in some areas, a $500,000 investment is enough.

EXAMPLE: Ludwig's investment in the brewery in Milwaukee (not an economically weak region) consists of the following: $275,000 in cash, $525,000 in bank loans, secured with Ludwig's personal assets, and $200,000 in the form of equipment that will be shipped from Germany to Milwaukee. With this investment, Ludwig meets the requirements for immigration.

10 jobs: The investment must create 10 full-time jobs for US employees, i.e. for US citizens or green card holders. This requirement may be ignored if the investment is made in a business area that has made a net loss over the past two years.

Active investment: The investment must not be passive. The investor has to actively participate in the management of the new business. This means Ludwig must be actively involved in the day-to-day business operations of the brewery in Milwaukee.

Legally acquired money: Irrespective of the form of invested capital in a new business, no capital must be used that come directly or indirectly from illegal sources. This means you have to document where the money comes from. So now, if Ludwig I not only a beer fan but also an internationally active drug lord, the US will, quite understandably, try to prevent him from becoming a US citizen with the help of this illegally earned money.

2. The new business

The business can have any legal form, including single ownership, partnership, joint-stock company, or joint venture. The new company can be made on the basis of one of the three following investment methods.

Setting up a new business: Ludwig may decide to set up a new company in the US and invest in this company.

Acquisition of an existing company and changing the running organization or business: Instead of investing in a brewery, Ludwig's lawyer may suggest buying an existing shell company as the best method for investment. Effectively, this would create a new company, meaning the requirements would be met.

Expansion of an existing business with substantial increase of the net value or the number of employees: Substantial increase means an increase by at least 40%. So if Ludwig doubles the number of employees in the Milwaukee brewery, he has met the requirements.

Approval of the application / conditional status

If the INS comes to the conclusion that the requirements have been met, the applicant will receive an immigration visa that will be issued by the responsible consulate abroad, or he can have his status adjusted in the US - an he will receive a conditional green card.

In order to prevent fraud, the INS will give a successful applicant a green card that is conditional for two years. Shortly before this period expires, the applicant must send new forms to the INS, in order to have the condition removed. This application will be approved if the applicant can prove that the business has indeed been set up, the investor has made the necessary investment, that he or she has actively participated in business operations over the past two years and that he has hired at least 10 US citizens. In case this application is not filed or is rejected, the investors status will be revoked and he can be deported from the US.

In case you are interested in such a procedure, you may contact us directly, so that we together with some experienced lawyers can advise you further.