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Before we dive into the riveting topic of immigration and visas, we want to make a few main points. The U.S. welcomes and encourages investment from abroad. Although there are a few steps to follow with regard to visa paperwork, it is easy and efficient to get those boxes ticked these days!
According to the U.S. Department of State, there are 65 million visitors to the U.S. each year. Nowadays, the process for applying for the many types of visas is quite straightforward. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Travel and Tourism strategy is to welcome 100M international visitors each year by end of 2021!
First, we would like to make it clear for our readers who often ask “Do I need a visa to buy property in the US?”. To own real estate in Florida you do not need any special documentation. If you can get your money into the U.S., you can invest.
Second, if your aim is to spend time in Florida enjoying the sun, sea, and mild winters, you can expect three months (the time period most visitors are initially approved for) to go by very quickly. This is why we find many global buyers opting for the 6-month temporary visa so that they can settle in longer and/or visit more often and enjoy the Florida lifestyle and climate.
Third, a very popular strategy for many global buyers looking to move their families to the U.S.- whether for financial, educational, safety, or environmental reasons- is to take the route of the EB-5 Investment Visa. With these keys points in mind, we bring you the highlights on U.S. immigration.
1. No Need For a Visa – Up to 90 Days
Certain countries participate in what is known as the Visa Waiver Program, which means citizens of these countries may enter the U.S. for 90 days as tourists without having a visa. To read more about the visa waiver program and whether you’d be eligible, read our article on visa waivers here.
2. Tourist Visas – Up to Six Months
For many visitors to the U.S. who either don’t qualify for the Visa Waiver Program or wish to remain in the U.S. for longer than 90 days, there are several tourist visas available. These allow you to remain in the U.S. for the purpose of tourism, visiting friends and family, or having business meetings, but prohibit actually working. For a list of these visas and how to apply for them click here.
3. Non-immigrant Visas – Temporary Visas to Live and Work in the U.S.
For those who wish to move themselves and their families more permanently to the U.S., there are temporary non-immigrant visas available. There are many categories of eligibility for these visas, but most center around working in the U.S. In most cases, your company would have to transfer you, or you would have to secure a job in the US before you would be eligible for these visas.
4. Immigrant Visas – Permanently Live and Work in the U.S.
If your aim is to obtain a long term or permanent residency visa, we feel it really pays to find a U.S. immigration attorney who has processed hundreds of applications. With their experience and understanding of the nuances and subtleties of the process, they will likely be able to really advise you on the option that offers the greatest chance of successful approval, as well as save you much time and money going through the process.
For most people obtaining an immigrant visa or “Green Card” – the permanent right to live and work in the U.S. and eventually become a citizen as long as you comply with the tax filing requirements – can only be achieved by marriage to a U.S. citizen, or via an EB-5 Investor Visa. EB-5 Investor Visas require that you invest $500,000-$1 million in a U.S. business or new enterprise, and create 5-10 new jobs.
If you can satisfy these requirements and prove that you have created ongoing employment you will be eligible for an investor’s Green Card. There are minimum guidelines that the U.S. will expect you to achieve, however, a U.S. immigration attorney will know if they are more or less stringent depending on prevailing economic conditions or other factors, and will likely be able to guide you more effectively.