As we discussed in our last article, Getting a Green Card as an Investor, if you are not a United States citizen and have invested or are actively investing in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy, you may qualify to apply for lawful permanent resident status as an "immigrant investor" and receive your green card. The process of obtaining a green card as an investor involves a host of documents and administrative steps, all of which require careful and precise consideration to avoid delaying your approval.

The first step of the application process is to file a visa petition using Form I-526. Accompanying this form, you must also include several documents that relate to proving the existence and feasibility of your potential investment, including:

  • Evidence that the investment funds were obtained lawfully
  • Evidence that you will be in a managerial or policymaking role
  • Evidence that the business will create at least ten full-time positions, and
  • A written statement summarizing:
    • The business,
    • Source of investment,
    • How the investment will be used, and
    • Full explanations of the duties, salaries and titles of the full-time positions that will be created.

Fulfilling these requirements may require including tax returns, financial statements, business plan and articles of incorporation, among other documents.

After mailing the petition to USCIS, you should receive a receipt notice from USCIS confirming receipt of the fees and containing your immigration case file number within a few weeks. If USCIS requires more information, they will issue a Request for Evidence notifying you what additional pieces of information, or additional documents are required. Final adjudication of the petition can take several months. If it is approved, an I-797 Notice of Action Form will be sent to you, confirming the approval.

Once your visa petition is approved, you can apply for a green card. This can be done outside the United States at a local U.S. consulate or in the United States by filing and adjustment of status application with USCIS. The process of adjusting your status to become a permanent resident also involves a host of forms, beginning with Form I-485, Application for Permanent Residence. This form needs to be accompanied by other important documents, including:

  • A copy of I-526 approval notice,
  • A copy of a birth certificate,
  • A copy of a marriage certificate if applicable,
  • Six photographs of you, and
  • A medical exam report.

It is important to note that for this step, if you are being accompanied by a spouse or children, they must also file their own separate forms. You may apply for permission to work, known as an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD, while the adjustment of status application is pending. If it is not waived, you may be called in for an interview at USCIS office, during which you are allowed to bring an attorney. If all is in order, your application should be approved at the conclusion of your interview, or soon after. It is important to not leave the United States once your application for adjustment of status has been filed - unless you were granted special permission - as departing without this advance permission will be viewed as abandoning the application.

For those outside the United States, you will need to apply for the immigrant visa at a US Consulate abroad. This process requires submission of civil documents to the National Visa Center, including police clearance certificates for each country you have lived in for one year or more after your 16th birthday. Once the National Visa Center determines that your file is complete, they will inform the US Consulate and you will be scheduled for an interview. Your immigrant visa allows you to request entry into the United States, and you must make your initial entry within the validity period of your immigrant visa - usually six months. Your green card will be mailed to the US address you provide a few weeks after you enter the United States.

Green cards based on investment are initially issued on a conditional basis, which expire in two years. In order to apply for the permanent green card, you must file an application to remove the conditions within the 90-day period before your conditional resident status expires. You can do so by filing Form I-829, along with evidence that you actually established the commercial enterprise.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.