How Your Coding Skills Can Earn an EB-5 Visa
Coders and software engineers are in high demand in the United States, and that’s unlikely to change in the next decade. If you have an extraordinary ability, use your skills to teach or research, or have a participating employer, you may be eligible for a first-priority EB-1 visa.
But what if you’re more interested in creating your own business overseas? While there are plenty of ways to start a business in the US on a temporary visa, entrepreneurs must have a green card to stay permanently in the United States. For this purpose, you may need an EB-5.
What is the Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5) Visa?
The United States EB-5 program is one of five employment-based visas that grant an immigrant a Green Card if they meet the visa’s core requirements.
There are four main EB-5 visa requirements:
- Invest $1,000,000 in a business located in a high-traffic part of the US, or
- Invest $500,000 in a business in a Targeted Employment Area, and
- Ensure investment money used is from a legally mandated source, and
- Create 10 qualifying full-time jobs for US residents (including remote work).
An investor must fulfill these requirements to turn their conditional Green Card permanent. For many immigrants, the EB-5 can be a quick way to open or invest in a business in the US.
For more information on how to obtain an EB-5 visa, visit https://eb5visainvestments.com/.
Why Should or Shouldn’t You Invest in an EB-5 Visa?
Software engineers and coding jobs as a whole tend to make more money, on average, compared to most other careers. In the US, a front-end or back-end developer makes $90,000 a year on average. The computer services and software industries are among the most profitable in the US. Opening up or investing in a software entertainment or IT company would be fruitful.
Foreign coders can use their skills to invest in a US enterprise that has a high chance of profiting. It’s also easier to obtain funds for your startup due to the high number of billionaires in the US. If you can prove you’re skilled, financing your EB-5 visa will be less challenging.
With that said, the advantages of EB-5 financing include:
Available Funds: America has a diverse pool of wealthy investors.
High Ceiling: The typical 60-something has over $210,900 invested, but American millionaires have much more. You could crowdfund your startup with one investment.
Cheap Capital: Most EB-5 investors expect a low rate of return (1%-2%).
Startup Control: If you want to build a tech startup with an EB-5 visa, you can rest assured your investors won’t want to take control of your enterprise.
While there are plenty of positives, the EB-5 isn’t for everyone. In fact, the EB-5 visa isn’t widely used as a source of startup financing unless the investor has a significant amount of capital.
Here are two main reasons why you shouldn’t get an EB-5:
EB-5 Investors are Risk Averse: It’s difficult, or even impossible, for EB-5 investors to research a project before investing. EB-5 investors are notoriously risk-averse and are wary of any foreign business that has little or no capital or hasn’t generated a profit.
EB-5 Investments Aren’t Long-Term: EB-5 investors have no obligation to keep their investment locked into your business after they receive a permanent Green Card. It’s difficult to convince EB-5 investors to keep their funds locked up in your business.
Are there other options for software engineers, coders, and IT professionals? If you’re a highly skilled coder or programmer, you could qualify for an EB-1A visa, EB-1B visa, or EB-2 visa.
What Other Options are Available to Skilled Coders?
If you can’t crowdfund or obtain $500,000, you can still apply for a Green Card under a different visa. Of these, the EB-1A, EB-1B, and EB-2 visas are the best options for skilled coders.
How to Get the EB-1A/B Visa
The EB-1A visa is for anyone who can demonstrate their extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, athletics, or business on a national or international scale. Coders must meet three of the 10 criteria for demonstrating their extraordinary ability and provide documentary evidence.
Of the 10 criteria, coders are more likely to meet the following:
Evidence they were a recipient of a lesser nationally or internationally recognized prize
Evidence they were a member of an association where achievement is necessary
Evidence they were included in published material, like a major trade publication
Evidence they were a judge on a panel where they were considered an authority
Evidence they were a creator of an important scientific or scholarly contribution
Evidence they were an author of a scholarly article discussing their contribution
Evidence they were a high-salaried employee or receiving a high remuneration
When the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) obtains your evidence, they’ll review it and determine if you meet the prior threshold. They will then evaluate if you’ve truly reached the top of your field. For the EB-1 visa, employment isn’t necessary, but you must have plans to remain active in your current field.
How to Get the EB-2 Visa
The EB-2 visa is for members of a profession holding an advanced degree or its equivalent or for someone who also has an extraordinary ability. However, you must prove that your abilities serve the national interest: for example, if you’re a coder who specializes in health technology.
Of the seven criteria, eligible coders are most likely to have:
Evidence showing they have a certificate, diploma, degree, or another similar award from a college, school, or university that relates to their area of exceptional ability
Evidence of current and past employers who can state with confidence the coder has at least 10 years of full-time experience in their occupation (exceptional ability field)
Evidence of a license or certification that they can practice their profession legally
Evidence they have a salary or other remuneration from services they provide
Evidence of membership of a professional association related to their profession
Evidence that someone of importance in their industry/field recognizes their ability, such as a peer, government entity, or a business or professional organization
The USCIS processes an EB-2 visa application similarly to the EB-1A/B, except you have to prove that your skills are of national interest to waive the requirements to have a job in the US.
About the Author
Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.