Green Card by Investment in Puerto Rico

Why Puerto Rico is the perfect place to apply for an EB-5 Investment Visa.

Almost all of Puerto Rico has been designated as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which means that it has been identified as an area with high unemployment.

Minimum capital investment is reduced from $1,800,000 USD, to only $500,000 USD. This offers a 72% discount on EB-5 Investment Visas .

Puerto Rico is an United States unincorporated territory nestled in the middle of the Caribbean. It has been -and continues to be- an important social and economic bridge between the Americas. U.S. citizens can travel freely between the island and the U.S. mainland without passports.

Puerto Rico enjoys fiscal autonomy, which means that it can offer very attractive tax incentives not available on the mainland U.S., with the advantages of being in a U.S. environment. The local government has enacted multiple tax incentives to attract foreign investment, which are available to EB-5 Visa program applicants.

The U.S. dollar is the official and only currency and is subject to the United States Federal Court System and Laws, but with valuable tax advantages for individuals and corporations that are not available on the mainland. All U.S. banking regulations apply, including the credibility and protections afforded by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Also, all the legal framework and protections, such as intellectual property and patent protection, apply in Puerto Rico.

What is a Green Card by Investment?

The EB-5 visa offers an immediate path to permanent residence in the United States of America. An immigrant investor who wants to establish and invest in a business in the United States can apply for this visa, and once approved, can immediately come to USA as a Green Card holder. 

The main requirements for the EB-5 Investor Visa are:

  • Minimum capital investment in a new business in the USA of $1.8M USD.
    • Investment in low employment areas is reduced to only $500,000 USD for a limited time.
  • Job creation of 10 full-time employees in 2 years, subject to several exceptions.
  • Capital must be acquired legally before investing.
  • The investment must be made in a for-profit U.S. commercial entity.
  • A direct investment is made directly into the job-creating business, and these investments count direct job creation only.
  • A regional center investment is made into an EB-5 fund, that loans the funds to the job-creating business; these investments count direct, indirect and induced jobs.

Can an unsecured loan be used as funding?

Yes.

USCIS now allows unsecured loans as a source of investors funds.

If the loan is secured by collateral, the value of the collateral must be at least equal to the loan amount. An applicant can expect USCIS to make a request for evidence (RFE) if the value of the collateral is close to amount of the loan. It is usually advised that the loan amount is no more than 70% of the value of the collateral property.

Do I apply inside or outside the United States?

The EB-5 Investor Visa allows two methods of applying:

Consular Processing

Through consular processing, the immigrant investor files the application before USCIS, but the visa interview is held at an embassy or consulate outside the United States. The applicant can enter the United States as a Permanent Resident when the application is approved.

Adjustment of Status

Through Adjustment of Status, the immigrant investor files the application before USCIS while residing in the United States, and the visa interview is held at a USCIS field office inside the United States. The applicant can exit and reenter the United States only if Advanced Parole is requested, and can only work inside the United States with a valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD or work permit). Usually, the AP and EAD are requested simultaneously with the EB-5 visa application, which allows entry and exit, as well as legal work authorization while the application is pending approval.

Can I include my family?

Immediate relatives, which are the investor’s spouse and minor, unmarried children, are included in the visa application.

They do not require additional capital investment, and are eligible to adjust status inside the United States.

Can gifts, inheritance, or divorce funds be a source of capital?

Inheritance

Yes, funds received through inheritance can be used as a source of capital for investment. In that case, the applicant must provide a complete record of documents related to the inheritance, including estate settlements of the deceased.

Gifts

Yes, funds received through gifts can be used as a source of capital for investment. All documents related to the gift must be provided to USCIS, including the registration of the gift money for tax purposes, if required, and the source of income of the gift giver.

Divorce

Yes, Money from divorce and other legal proceedings can be used as a source of capital for investment. This includes alimony, proceeds of civil lawsuits, and official court judgments. In that case, the applicant must provide a complete record of documents related to the settlement or judgment.

What is the EB-5 process for getting a Green Card?

The EB-5 visa application process is:

  1. Select a qualifying EB-5 project.
  2. File your investor petition (Form I-526).
  3. Receive conditional permanent residence, Green Card, for two years by filing a Form I-485 if you are Adjusting Status., or by filing a Form DS-260 if you are in your home country.
  4. Remove conditions on permanent residency by filing Form I-829.

How much does a Green Card by Investment cost?

  • The EB-5 investment minimum in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), such as Puerto Rico is $500,000, for a limited time.
  • Investors must pay a due-diligence and evidence fee of approximately $50,000 to $80,000, and can be paid in recurring installments.
  • USADefend LLC’s fees range from $15,000 to $25,000, and can be paid in recurring installments.
  • $3,675 USCIS filing fee.

What are my odds of approval?

USCIS publishes statistics on visa applications. 

EB-5 Approval rates by fiscal year:

  • 2018 – 88%
  • 2019 – 81%
  • 2020 – 84%

Keep in mind that these statistics represent averages and include investors who did not conduct their due diligence or were victims of fraud.

Can visa applications be expedited?

USCIS can determine that a project is serving an urgent government or public interest, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it can grant a project expedited status.

This means shorter processing times.

USADefend Immigration has seen recent petitions with investments in expedited projects receive approval in less than six months, or even much sooner. Note that expedited status does not mean an investment has less risk for the investor, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Can I change from a H-1B Visa to EB-5 Visa?

Yes, and this is a popular type of Adjustment of Status to remain permanently in the United States.

Can cryptocurrency be a source of funds for my investment?

Yes, absolutely.

In fact, many states and territories encourage the development of Decentralized Finance investments, and crypto asset investments by enacting local public policy that liberalizes and favors the distribution of traditional capital into crypto capital.

Puerto Rico is one such jurisdiction, in addition to being almost entirely a Targeted Employment Area, which reduces the capital investment requirements.

What benefits does Puerto Rico offer to foreign investors?

In the United States, investors pay as much as 37% on short-term capital gains and up to 20% on long-term gains.

This applies to crypto and other assets held for more than a year. Under Puerto Rico Act 60, known as the Individual Investors Act, that tax obligation is reduced to zero if certain qualifications are met.

There is also a major tax incentive for business owners to invest in Puerto Rico.

Stateside companies are subject to a 21% federal corporate tax, plus a state corporate tax, which varies.

If a firm exports its services out of Puerto Rico, to the U.S. or anywhere else, they pay a flat 4% corporate tax rate. 

Can I change from a E-2 Visa to EB-5 Visa?

You can enter the USA an E-2 visa with a required investment of about $200,000, and then increase your investment to $500,000 afterwards, with the requirement that a total of 10 direct employment jobs are created. Remember, an E-2 Visa applicant must come from one of the following countries.

When do I make the investment?

We recommend that our clients make the investment before they file their EB-5 petition.

According to current regulations one can actively be in the process of investing when the petition is filed but we prefer to request that our clients make the investment, receive the confirmation letter from the direct investment or regional center and then we file the I-526 petition.

Can you give me an example of a business?

You create a domestic corporation in Puerto Rico, which acquires one or several real estate properties, destined to the tourism industry, with a minimum investment of $500,000 USD. Then, you employ 10 employees to book, schedule, manage, maintain and care for the real estate properties in Puerto Rico.

Any services provided to clients outside of Puerto Rico are subject to Puerto Rico Act 60 Tax Benefits.

All marketing of the rentals is done by your own Export Services company, including:

  • Graphic Design
  • Social Media Management
  • Booking and Scheduling
  • Payment Processing
  • Payroll Management
  • Management and Administration of Properties

This is a gross oversimplification for illustration purposes, only. 

What immigration benefits do I get with a Green Card by Investment?

  • Work in the USA legally.
  • Bring your immediate family, no additional investment.
  • Children born in USA acquire citizenship automatically.
  • Apply for Citizenship in 5 years.
    • The United States passport is one of the strongest passports in the world, with visa-free travel to 144 countries.
    • Equal rights as other USA citizens.
  • The United States is the largest economy worldwide, and the most sought after market globally.

What conveniences does Puerto Rico offer compared to other locations?

Puerto Rico offers many conveniences for clients:

  • Short travel time from the Eastern coast.
    • About 2 hour flight from Miami.
    • About 3 hour flight from New York.
  • International airport with multiple daily flights on all major airline carriers.
  • Same shipping services available: UPS / FedEx / USPS
  • Amazon Prime is available.
  • Netflix is available, without a VPN.
  • Warm and comfortable weather all year round.
  • Diversity of microclimates around the island.
  • Bilingual Education available.
  • No immigration border crossings.
  • No customs declarations.
  • Quality of consumer goods available is equal or superior.
  • Quality and variety of electronics is equal to the mainland USA.
  • Variety of consumer goods sold is identical to the mainland USA.
  • Quality of produce is superior than mainland USA, with more variety.
  • Longstanding and rich cultural heritage that spans over 500 years.

Will Puerto Rico tax benefits go away?

Despite media foreshadowing, and the occasional sensationalist detractor, the government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has no intentions of eliminating years of groundbreaking tax developments and benefits.

Also, under the Puerto Rico legal system, an individual or a business cannot be hindered from an established acquired right, such as favorable tax proceedings, without Due Process.

The doctrine of Due Process requires several fundamental proceedings in order to curtail an established taxpayer right, such as, but not limited to:

  • Legislative commission reviews and hearings, which require public participation.
  • Court proceedings which must conclude by exhausting judicial forums.
  • Regulatory changes, which require prior publishing of proposed measures.

Therefore, it is undeniable that any change to current Puerto Rico tax policy will gain a measure of notoriety beforehand, upon which USADefend LLC will advise its current and former clients, so that adequate measures can be taken to prevent or minimize any possible tax exposure.

 

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