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BUYER'S GUIDE

Immigration And Visa Issues - Buying A US Business

Each year, a maximum of 10,000 visas are available to non-citizens who wish to start or buy a business in the United States. These are called EB-5 Visas, and this is also referred to as "immigration through investment". EB-5 visas are granted to investors, as well as their spouses and unmarried children.

Of these 10,000 visas, 5,000 are reserved for those who will be starting businesses that promote economic growth through increased export sales, improved regional productivity, creation of new jobs, and increased domestic capital investment in a specific region of the United States. The remaining 5,000 EB-5 visas are reserved for those who are buying existing businesses in the United States.

In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, you must prove that a "qualified investment" is being made in a new business. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, a qualified investment is at least $1,000,000 or at least $500,000 if the business is being created in a region of the United States that has been experiencing an unemployment rate of at least 150% of the national average, or a rural area. The investor must also show that at least 10 full time jobs will be created, either directly or indirectly, by the creation of the business.

To qualify for an EB-5 visa, you must also show that the business you are creating is original, or that you are purchasing an existing business, which will be restructured or reorganized so that the result is a new commercial enterprise. You can also be granted an EB-5 visa if you are expanding an existing business by 140% of the pre-investment number of jobs or net worth, or by retaining all existing jobs in a troubled business that has lost 20% of it's net worth over the past 12 to 24 months. If you are granted an EB-5 visa on the basis of expanding a business under these rules, you must also maintain the number of existing employees at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years, or you can lose your visa.

You must also prove that the money you have, or plan to invest comes from a lawful source, and you must demonstrate that you will be actively participating in the business. You will be required to provide all documentation of these requirements and file form I-526, along with the required $465.00 fee. Click here to download Form I-526.

Once your form I-526 has been approved, you will have status as a conditional resident, and you must file form I-485 if you are currently residing in the United States, or you must apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S Consulate if you are currently living outside of the United States. Click here to download Form I-485 - there is a fee of $315.00.

Finally, you must file a CIS Form I-829, which can be downloaded here. The fee is $455.00, and this removes the conditions for your residency and, if approved, grants you permanent residency in the United States. Form I-829 must be filed no later than 90 days before the second anniversary of your admission into the United States as a conditional resident. Failure to file Form I-829 by this deadline will result in the loss of your visa.

You should be aware that there are business scams aimed at individuals who want to buy an American Business. These scams claim that they can help you obtain your visa on the condition of you buying a business for $100,000. To avoid becoming a victim of these scams, you should investigate any business that you are considering purchasing, and you should hire an attorney in the United States to help you obtain your visa, and contact the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services if you have any questions. You should also keep in mind that there are other types of business visas that you may qualify for, and you should consult an attorney for assistance.

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