Foreign nationals may apply for a U.S. green card through parents, children, spouse, or siblings. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens may apply for green card without delay. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21. Other relatives must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following categories:
Over 21 unmarried children of U.S. citizens.
Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under 21, and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents.
Married children of U.S. citizens.
Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens over 21.
MARRIAGE TO THE U.S. CITIZEN
Foreign citizens applying for a “Green Card” through marriage to the U.S. citizen must prove a bona fide marriage, not a sham to get an immigration benefit. You may be called for a fraud interview after filing your initial petition or after applying to remove conditions on your “Green Card.”
To prove a bona fide marriage you may present to the officer the following proof: Joint bank accounts; Letters to families and each other; Phone bills showing your conversations; Photographs; Rental agreements; Tax returns; Utility bills; Wedding invitations and other evidence.
In case immigration officer suspects that your marriage is fraudulent, you may be intensively interviewed in separate rooms. The officer will then compare the results of two interviews.
It is extremely important to provide a well-prepared set of evidence to the officer and have an attorney present with you at the interview.
K-1 classification is designed for fiancés of US citizens who seek to enter the U.S. solely to enter into valid marriage with the petitioner within 90 days after arrival. K-1 applicant and US citizen must have met in person within 2 years of filing petition. K-1 classification may apply for a Green Card after marrying the petitioner. Fiancé’s children under 21 years old may accompany them under K-2 classification.
K-3 classification is designed for a person who has a valid marriage to US citizen, the US citizen has filed a petition for Alien Relative, and K-3 beneficiary seeks to enter the U.S. to await approval. Spouse’s children under 21 may accompany them under K-4. K-3/K-4 beneficiaries are admitted to the U.S. for 2 years but may extend their stay for 2-year intervals if the petition for Alien Relative has not been approved yet.
Foreign nationals can apply for a US green card if they have a business.
To qualify for E-1 classification, a treaty trader must:
• Be a national of the treaty country
• Carry on substantial and principal trade between the U.S. and the treaty country
To qualify for E-1 classification, an employee of a treaty trader must:
• Be the same nationality as the principal alien employer
• Be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications
Qualified treaty traders and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of 2 years. Requests for an extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to 2 years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted.
Treaty traders and employees may be accompanied by spouses and unmarried children under 21. Spouses of E-1 workers may apply for work authorization.
List of Qualifying Countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria
Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Brunei
Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia Denmark
Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy
Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg
Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro
Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland
Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland
Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey
To qualify for E-2 classification, a treaty investor must:
• Be a national of a treaty country
• Have invested or be actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S.
• Be seeking to enter the U.S. solely to develop and manage the investment enterprise.
To qualify for E-2 classification, an employee of a treaty investor must:
• Be the same nationality as the principal alien employer
• Be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of 2 years. Requests for an extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to 2 years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.
Treaty investors and employees may be accompanied by spouses and unmarried children under 21. Spouses of E-2 workers may apply for work authorization.
List of Qualifying Countries:
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan
Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria
Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic
Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia
Germany, Georgia, Grenada
Iran, Ireland, Italy
Jamaica, Japan, Jordan
Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan
Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco
Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland
Serbia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland
Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey
Ukraine, United Kingdom
EB-5 Flow Chart
Submit initial petition Obtain approval (up to 16 months) Submit application and receive conditional permanent resident status for 2 years (up to 6-8 months) Submit petition to remove the condition after 21 months of conditional residency Issuance of permanent residency (up to 9 months)
The investor need not commit the entire capital immediately but the investment must be substantially complete prior to the end of the 2-year conditional residency period. Investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be included on the EB-5 immigration petition. 10,000 visa numbers are allocated annually to EB-5 investors.
Investors must demonstrate that the investment funds were obtained legally. Investments funds could be in form of cash, cash equivalents, equipment, inventory, other tangible property that came from lawful income, gift, inheritance, lottery winnings, sale of business, sale of real estate, sale of stock, loan secured by your assets but cannot be secured by property of the commercial enterprise that you invested in.
Investor must be involved in the daily management of the company in positions such as a corporate officer, board member, etc. unless investment is made into Regional Center.
Besides creating a new commercial enterprise, the investor may restructure or expand an existing business. EB-5 investor must either expand the net worth of an existing business or the number of employees by 40%. Investor may also invest in troubled business – one that has existed for a minimum of 2 years and has incurred a net loss of at least 20% of the troubled business’ net worth for the 12 to 24 month period. Investor must show that the number of existing employees in the troubled business is being or will be maintained at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least 2 years; however, this provision does not decrease the statutory 10 full-time jobs requirement.
Multiple EB-5 investors can combine their money to invest in an enterprise. All investors must infuse the required amount into an enterprise and create at least 10 jobs each. All jobs created by a pooling arrangement will be distributed evenly among investors.
The U.S. law also allows obtaining EB-5 Green Card through purchase of qualifying real estate.
L-1A classification is designed for intra-company transferees who have been employed in an executive or managerial capacity for the foreign company at an overseas location continuously for at least 1 year out of the past 3 years. Qualifying employee must be seeking to enter the U.S. to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for the same employer. L-1A visa is granted initially for 1 year for a new company in the US or 3 years for a US company that existed for more than 1 year, with extensions available in 2-year increments, with a total stay not to exceed 7 years. L-1A recipient may become a permanent resident through EB-1C immigrant petition.
L-1B classification is designed for professional employees with specialized knowledge. L-1B is an employee who possesses special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets, or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. L-1B visa is issued initially for 3 years with one 2-year extension for a maximum of 5 years stay. L-1B recipient may become a permanent resident through Labor Certification process.
In relationship to the foreign company, the U.S. entity may be a:
• Parent company;
• Subsidiary company;
• Branch company; or
• Affiliated company.
Qualifying employer must be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and in at least one other country for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the U.S. as an L-1.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
• The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office; and
• The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition (business plan).
For new offices the immigration process is carried out in 3 steps:
• Initial L-1A visa is issued for a period of 1 year to set up operations in the U.S.;
• L-1A visa must be renewed based in part on the first-year record of the U.S. company;
• Once renewed for an additional 2 years, L-1A visa holder may apply for permanent residency.
Blanket L-1 visas are available to employers who hire large numbers of intra-company transferees every year and allow a petitioning company to pre-establish its qualifications as sponsor in advance of filing individual L-1 petitions.
Eligibility for blanket L certification may be established if:
• The petitioner and each of the qualifying organizations are engaged in commercial trade or services;
• The petitioner has an office in the U.S. which has been doing business for at least 1 year;
• The petitioner has 3 or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates;
• The petitioner have obtained at least 10 L-1 approvals during the previous 12-month period;
• The petitioner has U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million or has a U.S. work force of at least 1,000 employees.
L-1 may be accompanied by spouses and unmarried children under 21 under L-2 classification. Spouses of L-1 workers may apply for work authorization.
FIRST PREFERENCE IMMIGRATION
EB-1 is an employment-based petition for U.S. permanent residence designed for those who are among the most accomplished in their respective fields. To establish the eligibility for EB-1, the petitioner must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim, and that petitioner’s achievements have been recognized in the field.
INDIVIDUALS WITH EXTRAORDINARY ABILITY
For an individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.