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What are the rules of the investment visa?

This world of ours has become so small, and we mean that in a good way. Advanced air travel, the internet, cellphones: all of these things have promoted an era where people can connect and remain connected for long periods of time, and these connections are even easier to make than they were even 20 years ago.

What this means for immigration law is that when a business investor from outside the United States wants to establish a company or invest in a company in the U.S., there are protocols and processes in place to let that happen -- so long as you are compliant with the rules and regulations set forth. So what does it take to obtain a visa based on a new commercial enterprise, or an "investment visa"?

There are different types of investment visas (such as E-1 and E-2 visas), and each one has its own specific rules. In general though, there are certain investment thresholds that need to be met (usually in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and the commercial enterprise or investment needs to generate jobs for U.S. citizens. There are other rules and regulations that apply -- but these are the crucial "investment" elements to the equation.

There is also something called a "regional center." A "regional center" under investment visa guidelines is an "entity, organization or agency that has been approved by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services." It must focus on a specific geographical location in the U.S. and the regional center must seek to improve economic growth in a number of ways. There are 10,000 investor visas handed out every year, and 5,000 of them are reserved for "regional centers."

Source: FindLaw, "What is an Investment Visa?," Accessed Oct. 8, 2014

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