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Can you buy US citizenship? If so, what is the process like?

I’ll start by addressing the phrasing of your question. The term “buy” implies that citizenship is for sale, which isn’t true. However, a couple of different visa categories will allow a foreign investor to obtain US citizenship through a substantial investment in the US economy (which actually does sound a little bit like buying citizenship). The distinction is important though because having enough money is not the only requirement for obtaining a visa and in turn citizenship.

An EB-5 visa is an investment visa that will grant the holder permanent US citizenship. This is the most straightforward option. I will explain more, but the basic requirements are:

  • Investment of at least $1,000,000 (but in special situations, this can be lowered to $500,000),
  • In a new commercial enterprise in the US,
  • Which creates at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers

First, the million dollar requirement is pretty steep, which is why there is a requirement that will allow an investment of half of that amount IF that investment is made in a “targeted employment area.” These are generally more rural areas with high unemployment rates that could use more investments.

Next, a new commercial enterprise means any new company that will carry on business in the US. Even further, the definition also includes a purchase which brings about a restructuring or reorganization of any existing business.

Finally, the job creation requirement is meant to ensure that the US economy as a whole benefits from the investment. The investor will be required to show that the investment will be able to create and more importantly maintain at least 10 full-time jobs for US workers.

The actual process involves gathering evidence that proves that the applicant meets these requirements, applying for the visa by sending all required materials, awaiting approval, and then if successful you may be subject to periodic reviews to make sure that you are maintaining such requirements.

The process can be tricky so I would suggest that you speak with an immigration attorney about the specifics of your situation. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to advise you on your best options and walk you through the process. If you are looking for an immigration attorney to help you with your visa process, I invite you to check out LawTrades. Our attorneys have experience with the visa process and the initial consultation is free. Good luck!

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