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A Guide to Citizenship by Investment and Obtaining a USA Passport

Posted by Jehan Anis on February 16, 2024
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For individuals seeking to embark on a new chapter of their lives in the land of opportunity, acquiring citizenship in the United States through investment offers a pathway to realizing the American Dream. With its robust economy, diverse culture, and unparalleled opportunities, the USA is a beacon of prosperity and possibility for investors worldwide. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the process of obtaining a USA passport through citizenship by investment, outlining the eligibility criteria, investment options, and steps involved in the journey to becoming a US citizen.

 

1. Understanding Citizenship by Investment:

Citizenship by investment is a legal pathway through which individuals can acquire citizenship and a passport in a foreign country by making a qualifying investment in the country’s economy. In the case of the United States, citizenship by investment is not directly available as a formal program like in some other countries. However, there are certain investment avenues that can lead to permanent residency (Green Card) and eventually, citizenship.

 

2. Eligibility Criteria for USA Citizenship:

Before pursuing citizenship by investment in the USA, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria set forth by US immigration laws. Generally, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be of good moral character and free from any criminal convictions.
  • Meet the residency requirements for naturalization, including physical presence in the USA and continuous residence for a specified period.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in English and knowledge of US civics and history through a naturalization test.

 

3. Investment Options for USA Citizenship:

While the USA does not have a formal citizenship by investment program, there are several investment options that can lead to permanent residency (Green Card) and eventual citizenship through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The EB-5 program allows foreign investors to obtain a Green Card by making a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise that creates jobs in the USA. The two main investment options under the EB-5 program are:

  • Direct Investment: Investors can establish a new commercial enterprise or invest in an existing business that creates at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying US workers.
  • Regional Center Investment: Investors can invest in a USCIS-designated regional center, which pools funds from multiple investors to finance job-creating projects in targeted employment areas.

 

4. Steps to Obtain USA Citizenship:

The process of obtaining USA citizenship through investment involves several steps, including:

  • Selecting an EB-5 project: Investors must research and select a qualifying EB-5 project that meets the requirements of the program and aligns with their investment objectives.
  • Making the investment: Investors must make the required investment in the chosen EB-5 project and provide evidence of the investment funds’ lawful source.
  • Filing the I-526 petition: Investors must file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with supporting documentation demonstrating eligibility for the EB-5 program.
  • Obtaining conditional Green Card: If the I-526 petition is approved, investors and their immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) can apply for conditional permanent residency (Green Card) through consular processing or adjustment of status.
  • Meeting residency requirements: Investors must maintain their Green Card status by meeting residency requirements and complying with US immigration laws, including physical presence in the USA and avoiding prolonged absences.
  • Applying for USA citizenship: After holding conditional Green Card status for a specified period (usually five years), investors can apply for USA citizenship through naturalization by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and completing the naturalization process, including an interview and naturalization test.

5. Benefits of USA Citizenship:

Acquiring USA citizenship through investment offers a range of benefits, including:

  • Right to live, work, and study in the USA without restrictions.
  • Ability to travel visa-free to numerous countries worldwide.
  • Access to social benefits and services, including healthcare, education, and social security.
  • Opportunities for personal and professional growth, including access to higher education, employment opportunities, and business ventures.
  • Ability to sponsor family members for USA immigration benefits, including Green Cards and citizenship.

 

6. Understanding the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program:

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by the United States Congress in 1990 to stimulate economic growth and job creation through foreign investment. Under the EB-5 program, eligible investors can obtain permanent residency (Green Card) for themselves and their immediate family members by making a qualifying investment in a new commercial enterprise that creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.

  • Direct Investment: In a direct EB-5 investment, investors establish a new commercial enterprise or invest in an existing business directly, taking an active role in managing the investment project and creating jobs.
  • Regional Center Investment: Regional centers are private or public entities designated by the USCIS to promote economic development and job creation in specific geographic areas. Investors can invest in USCIS-approved regional center projects, which typically involve passive investment in job-creating projects such as real estate development, infrastructure projects, and manufacturing facilities.

 

7. Investment Amount and Job Creation Requirements:

To qualify for the EB-5 program, investors must make a minimum qualifying investment in the USA and create or preserve a specified number of jobs for US workers. As of [current date], the minimum investment amounts for the EB-5 program are as follows:

  • $1.8 million: Minimum investment in a new commercial enterprise located outside of a targeted employment area (TEA).
  • $900,000: Minimum investment in a new commercial enterprise located within a TEA or rural area, which is designated as having high unemployment or low population density.

Additionally, investors must demonstrate that their investment has created or preserved at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying US workers within two years of the investor’s admission as a conditional permanent resident.

 

8. Conditional Green Card and Removal of Conditions:

Upon approval of the I-526 petition, investors and their immediate family members are granted conditional permanent residency (Green Card) for a period of two years. To remove the conditions on their Green Card and obtain unconditional permanent residency, investors must file Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, within the 90-day period before the second anniversary of their admission as a conditional permanent resident. The I-829 petition requires investors to demonstrate that their investment has created or preserved the required number of jobs and that the investment capital has been sustained throughout the conditional residency period.

 

9. Path to USA Citizenship:

After holding unconditional permanent residency (Green Card) for a specified period (usually five years), investors and their family members become eligible to apply for USA citizenship through naturalization. The naturalization process involves filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with the USCIS, undergoing a biometric appointment, attending an interview, and passing a naturalization test on English language proficiency and knowledge of US civics and history. Upon successful completion of the naturalization process, investors and their family members can take the Oath of Allegiance and become citizens of the United States, enjoying the full rights and privileges of USA citizenship, including the ability to vote and hold public office.

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, obtaining USA citizenship through investment offers individuals and their families a pathway to achieving their aspirations and building a brighter future in one of the world’s leading nations. By participating in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and making a qualifying investment in the USA, investors can obtain permanent residency (Green Card) and eventually, USA citizenship, enjoying the myriad opportunities and benefits that come with being part of the American community. While the process of obtaining citizenship through investment requires diligence, patience, and financial commitment, the rewards – including freedom, opportunity, and security – are invaluable, making it a transformative journey worth embarking upon for those seeking to fulfil their American Dream.

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