Investing in America

By: Dennis E. Chua, Esq.

Individuals who wish to enter and stay in the United States for the purpose of doing business in the country may apply for an investor's visa.

To illustrate, we present this factual scenario. Jose is a businessman in the Philippines and he wants to diversify his business interests by opening a business in the United States. Jose is planning to open up a restaurant business in the United States. Jose intends to direct the operations of the business during its infantile stage. While setting up and developing the business, Jose would like to bring his wife and two minor children with him.

Jose may apply for an investor's visa so that he could enter and stay in the United States to direct and develop his business. Jose may apply directly for an investor's visa with the US Embassy in Manila or apply for a change of status if he is currently in the United States. Jose needs to show the following before his application may be approved:

He is a national of a country which has a bilateral investment treaty with the United States;
He will be entering the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise;
He has invested or is actively in the process of investing money into a bona fide commercial enterprise which he seeks to establish or has been set up;
The amount that he has invested or will be investing is a substantial amount as distinct from a relatively small amount of capital in a marginal enterprise solely for the purpose of earning a living;
He is qualified to develop and direct the operations of the business; and
He is willing to depart the United States after he has accomplished his business purposes.

We are frequently asked by prospective investor visa applicants as to how much amount of money is needed to be invested in a bona fide enterprise for an investor's visa application to be approved. The substantiality of the amount to be invested would depend on the nature of the business. A commercial enterprise which will be engaged in the business of buying and selling real estate will need not be viable with an initial investment of $25,000.

As for the type of business to be established, the USCIS will approve investor's visa applications for any type of business, so long as we can show that the commercial enterprise is a bona fide business entity. The USCIS has approved investor's visa applications for commercial enterprises engaged in the following types of businesses: restaurants, care homes, freight forwarding, food marts; commodities trading consultancy.

Once the principal investor visa applicant has been issued an investor's visa, the spouse and minor children of the principal investor visa holder can be issued their corresponding visas as dependents of the principal visa holder.

Atty. Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) - a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Manila. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. The CTV attorneys will be holding regular free legal clinics at the Max's Restaurant in Vallejo, California. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277;
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