Obtaining U.S. citizenship through investment is not possible in the United States immigration system.  Citizenship can only be obtained after residing in the US with a valid Green Card for between 3 to 5 years (depending on the grounds by which the Green Card was granted).  However, the EB-5 program allows investors to receive a Green Card through investment in the US economy totalling USD $800,000 or more. This is why you might have heard that the EB-5 program is known as a direct path to US citizenship.

US Citizenship through Investment

What is the difference between a Green Card and US Citizenship

A Green Card is a residence permit for the United States that is valid for 10 years. After this period, the Green Card can be extended if there are no plans to obtain US citizenship. A passport is not issued, and the holder of the Green Card remains a citizen of their country of origin.

For example, Green Card holders cannot participate in elections, as only US citizens have this right. Also, a Green Card does not give the holder a right for visa-free travel to 185 countries, which is currently available to holders of an American passport.

US citizens can leave the country at their own discretion and, even if they do not live in the US at all, their passport remains valid. If the Green Card holder leaves the United States for more than six months, the residence permit may be canceled.

Another advantage of US citizenship is that, if a force majeure occurs while outside the country, one can count on the help of the US Consulate. The holder of a Green Card in an emergency situation has the right to count only on the assistance of the US Consulate in the country of origin. 

At the same time, while living in the United States, a Green Card holder receives practically the same advantages as citizens related to protecting their family and business interests, as well as being able to use banking services, take out loans or mortgages, and receive access to education, including grants and scholarships, as well as the opportunity to work, open your own business, and more.

Grounds for obtaining a Green Card

There are several ways to obtain a Green Card: participation in the EB-5 visa program, participation in a diversity visa program, employment, family reunification, or marriage with a US citizen. Additionally, the US authorities can issue a residence permit to specialists with outstanding talents and refugees.

EB-5 Program

US Green Card for whole family through investment

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Green Card for investment under the EB-5 program

The EB-5 program is suitable for private investors and involves investments in the US economy for an amount of at least $800,000, involving the creation of 10 new jobs. This can be an investment in your company or participation in Regional Center projects.

By investing through a Regional Center, an investor can take part in bigger projects. Regional Centers prepare a business plan and all the necessary documentation. If the project is successful, the investor can expect a return on their investment in a period of 5-7 years, depending on the terms of the contract.

If the investor chooses to invest in their own business, then the required investment will be $800,000 (for projects located in TEAs, or targeted employment areas) or  $1,050,000 for projects outside such territories and industries. This option is suitable for those who plan to take an active part in the affairs of the enterprise, and in this case the return on investment will depend on the company’s performance. The investor prepares their own business plan and all necessary documentation for the project, involving specialist lawyers and economists.