The Golden Visa: Alternative Avenues to a Green Card for Entrepreneurs

If you are an entrepreneur looking to establish permanent residency in the United States, odds are you have heard of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This type of program is not unique to the United States as 23 countries around the world (VisaPlace) have some type of ‘citizen-by-investment’ policy, commonly referred to as the “Golden Visa.”
With EB-5 processing times averaging at a whopping 47 to 71 months (four to six years), the situation begs some entrepreneurs to wonder, “Is there a faster way?” We would like to propose using the “Golden Visa” option in a third country to leverage an E-2 treaty investor visa.

The E-2 Visa
According to USCIS, an E-2 treaty investor must be a citizen of United States treaty country and “invest a substantial amount of money and direct the operations of an enterprise they have invested in, or are actively investing in.” If applying from within the United States, an E-2 treaty investor petition is processed in 2 to 4 months or can be filed with premium processing, meaning a decision would be issued within 15 days of filing. If applying outside the US, you can apply with the consulate.
An E-2 visa permits “dual intent,” meaning that you must maintain the intention to depart the United States when the E-2 visa expires yet can simultaneously intend to apply for permanent residence. Once in the United States, an E-2 visa holder can apply for an adjustment of status, granted they are willing to waive some of the rights that are associated with an E-2 visa.

An Alternative to EB-5
So, if you are an entrepreneur looking to come to the United States, but perhaps don’t want to wait for an EB-5 application to process, consider investing in one of the 12 countries that have a “Golden Visa” program and are also treaty countries with the United States, including:

  • Austria
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom

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BREAKING NEWS: Congress Passed $1.5 Trillion Spending Bill, EB-5 Regional Center Program Reauthorized

With the passage of a $1.5 trillion spending bill in the House on Wednesday (March 9) and the Senate last night (March 10), the EB-5 Regional Center Program was reauthorized.

The EB-5 Regional Centers have been reauthorized through September 30, 2027. All pending investor visa applications that have been stuck in a holding period since the lapse of regional center authorization will now continue to be adjudicated by USCIS. The bill also included a provision that if Congress fails to reauthorize the program again before expiration in 2027, investors will be “grandfathered” in and USCIS will continue to adjudicate investor visa petitions that were submitted before expiration.

Investment amounts have increased to $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEA) and $1,050,000 for non-TEA. The amounts will increase every 5 years to reflect inflation.

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Legalized Marijuana and Immigration: What do non-citizens need to avoid?

The cannabis industry has exploded over the last ten years since Colorado and Washington state first legalized the adult use of marijuana (“adult use” used to be referred to as “recreational use,” but the verbiage has since changed). Now, 18 states permit adult use, and 37 states permit medicinal use. But what does that mean for non-citizens of the United States?

It is important to note that marijuana continues to be illegal on the federal level, and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operate under federal law. Having cannabis on your person at Customs could result in a Customs fine, or in some cases, a statement can be taken from you during the inspection process which could be used to establish inadmissibility. There have even been reports of non-citizens being denied entry at the border for having any sort of cannabis-related product, including CBD sleeping pills.

There are movements for marijuana reform on a federal level, with members of Congress urging the federal government to align themselves with changing state and local policies. Until reform is enacted, however, it is important to be extremely careful with marijuana use, purchase, and possession as a non-citizen.

While true for everyone (US citizens, permanent residents, and non-residents alike), this is a special reminder for non-residents and permanent residents to never drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, or any controlled substance. A DUI can greatly affect immigration proceedings for non-citizens.

If you have any questions, please contact us at



This post is an informal summary of information that was gathered from an article by W Scott Railton on Think Immigration, a blog hosted by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.



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Congress Pushes on DHS to Improve the USCIS Contact Center

On February 28, 2022, 47 members of Congress wrote a letter to Secretary Mayorkas (Department of Homeland Security) and Director Jaddou (Citizenship and Immigration Services) urging them to make improvements to the USCIS Contact Center. The letter specifically mentions the barriers posed by the shift from InfoPass to InfoMod in conjunction with scheduling in-person appointments at field offices. They state that navigating the new three-tiered system has caused extensive wait times, unreasonable callback windows, and significant customer dissatisfaction.

Another grievance the letter refers to is the fact that members of an attorney’s legal staff are not allowed to receive updates through the new contact center; if not the beneficiary, only the attorney of record can raise an inquiry or speak to USCIS officers. The letter goes on to mention that as USCIS’ pending caseload has increased 85% from 2015 to 2020, improvements to the contact center will reduce the burden on the agency itself and improve overall customer satisfaction.

In summary, the letter asks for:

  1. Reinstating InfoPass or another online appointment self-scheduling system
  2. Providing accurate and accommodating callback windows
  3. Allowing law firm staff other than the attorney on record to make requests
  4. Making public the criteria for granting appointments through InfoMod
  5. Offering walk-in availability for urgent requests at local USCIS offices

Questions? Email

Information from AILA Doc. No. 22030300.


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H-1B Strategies for Employers

At Challa Law, it is our mission to arm and equip our clients with knowledge. We know that when an employer is confident about immigration processes, their employees are confident about immigration processes. Decreased worry and stress about the legal implications of bringing in international resources leads to greater productivity and success. That’s what we want to provide for all the businesses that trust the Challa Law name.

With H-1B season fully upon us, we want to briefly review the H-1B lottery process, as well as cover some tips and suggestions for providing strong evidence for your employee’s petition. You can also find all of this information and more in our webinar from March 2, 2022.

H-1B Lottery

Registration for the lottery began on March 1 at noon EST and will run till March 18 at noon EST. Registration is conducted on Here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about registering an employee for the H-1B lottery:

  • The petitioner (employer) must pay $10 for each beneficiary (employee) they register
  • The petitioner needs to provide basic demographic information about the beneficiary, as well as basic information about their company to register
  • A petitioner can only register the beneficiary for one position
  • A beneficiary can be registered by multiple companies

There are 85,000 H-1B visas allotted per fiscal year. The first 25,000 are selected from a pool of master’s degree holders only. Anyone who is not selected in that initial drawing is then put into the pool of all H-1B lottery registrants and names are drawn again for the remaining visa slots.

Last year, 308,613 people registered for the H-1B lottery (a 12% increase than the previous year) and USCIS initially selected 87,500 names. This was significantly lower than the amount the had chosen the year prior. This caused USCIS to conduct a second-round lottery in July 2021 and a third-round lottery in November 2021.

USCIS states that they will notify petitioners (and attorneys) electronically whether the beneficiary was selected or not by March 31. The notice will include a service center filing location and a designated filing window. Employees may begin work on the first day of the fiscal year, October 1, 2022.

Cap Gap for F-1 students: if the H-1B petition is filed before the F-1 OPT work authorization expires, then the employee is allowed to keep working for the employer with the H-1B receipt notice should their OPT expire before October 1.

Tips on Strong Evidence for a Successful Petition

Proving Education Levels Meets H-1B Requirements

  • We suggest requesting a degree evaluations if degrees are from a foreign instituation to determine equivalency to US degrees

Proving the Position is a Specialty Occupation

  • We suggest providing a very detailed job description with duties outlined clearly, but not so complex that someone outside your field could not understand it


“Imagine you are explaining this job to a ten-year-old”

– Lakshmi Challa


We hope you find this information helpful. Please email us at with any additional questions.

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