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.

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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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