Baby Boomers: The EB-5 Entrepreneur Visa as a U.S. Retirement Options for High Net Worth Foreigners

Overview of U.S. Retirement Options and Visa

Many countries offer retirement options to attract high net worth foreigners to their shores. At this time, contrary to popular belief, the United States does not formally offer a visa classification allowing foreigners to retire in the U.S. As a result of this misconception, many foreigners simply purchase homes in the U.S., mistakenly believing that owning a home allows permanent residence in the U.S. as is the case with many other countries. Instead, if an individual has a net worth of at least $ 1 million, he or she should first consider the option of investing in a Regional Center EB-5 Project in order to move the U.S. eventually as a lawful permanent resident prior to investing in personal real estate.

With regional center investment, the EB-5 program requires the principal investor to be a limited partner in a U.S. regional center and spend at least two years as a conditional permanent resident following initial approval. The investor is not required to “develop and direct” the business actively as with most investor visa applications. In conclusion, this can be a good option for an individual who has at least $ 500,000.00 to invest. An added perk is that immediate family members receive the same classification and can also reside permanently in the U.S.; live here, work here, attend public schools and universities– all very attractive options for many high net worth foreigners who can prove the lawful source of their investment funds.

Steps to investing in a regional center or becoming a resident of the U.S.

Proper investment planning must be followed well in advance of moving to the U.S. First, the appropriate tax and estate laws, treaties, currency restrictions and immigration regulations must be carefully consulted and analyzed by meeting with the appropriate professionals. Once concern is the processing time for the EB-5 program, currently taking more than a year once filed. Second, medical insurance should be purchased to cover a stay in the U.S., especially since social security benefits would not be available for at least five (5) years following approval of the visa. Third, real estate trends including foreclosure and growth rates, local schools, and crime statistics should be considered. Overall, the United States is considered a safe place to invest and reside for foreigners.

It may not be enough to simply purchase a home in the U.S.

If your intention in purchasing a “vacation home” in the U.S. is truly to vacation here, you may be still be able to do so using a non-immigrant classification such as a tourist visa, the “ESTA” program available to certain nationalities or even a student visa. However, as a cautionary note, these are temporary visas, not designed for use as retirement vehicles or for permanent residence as an immigrant to the United States!

On the other hand, permanent or immigrant visas resulting from approved EB-5 entrepreneur and certain business or family petitions would allow you to reside in the U.S. permanently as a immigrant or retiree. Taking one of these routes would ensure that you could successfully meet your family’s goal of remaining in the U.S. without forced interruptions such as required travel to your country of origin every 90 or 180 days, or more.

For example, although the ESTA system allows certain foreign nationals from 38 countries to travel to the United States temporarily for 90 days or less as a tourist or business visitor, these tourists can purchase homes and form corporations, but they generally must depart after 90 days and are not permitted to live in the U.S. permanently as they are considered “non-immigrants”.   Even so, future entries at the U.S. border could be compromised if an individual is suspected of living in the U.S. more than in his or her home country or if that non-immigrant no longer has a residence anywhere but in the U.S. Understanding the distinctions between non-immigrant and immigrant visas is critical to retirement planning.