Alternative Visas Enable International Homebuyers to Stay in Florida Year-Round

Posted by Julian Yates on Friday, May 20th, 2016 at 2:59pm.

Florida has welcomed a growing number of people from other countries who have discovered their home in paradise. In the 2015 Profile of International Home Buyers prepared by the Research Division of the National Association of REALTORS®, 25% of international homebuyers (largely from Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Venezuela) are buying property in Florida. 

These homes purchased by internationals range in price from $300,000 to $800,000, so most real estate professionals obviously see these as good clients to have; and for citizens who want a boost in our economy, supporting international buyers with money to invest in the community seems like a big win/win. That said, the immigration process is fraught with hurdles, and visa restrictions often limit residency to less than six months, which is a big detractor from the prospect of home ownership. But there's a silver lining for those looking to come from another country and invest in Florida property: business investment visas. The two most popular of these are the EB-5 and the E-2 visas.

The EB-5 is also known as the Foreign Investor Green Card program. By targeting areas experiencing unemployment equal to at least 150% of the national average, the EB-5 encourages foreign investors to contribute to American jobs with as little as a $500,000 investment in a business located in a target employment area. (In a nontargeted area, the minimum investment is $1 million.) The approval of an investor's petition grants him or her a two-year conditional residency; at the end of these two years, the investor must go through a verification process to determine the venture's success. Upon passing verification, the investor is granted unconditional, legal, and permanent residence in the U.S.

For those who are interested in pursuing this opportunity, note that the current program has been extended until September 2016. At that time, it's likely that minimum investments will increase.

The E-2 Visa is also called the Treaty Investor Visa. This visa is designed for nationals of the almost 70 countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Usually issued through the U.S. Consulate, these visas last between two and five years, and grant holders the right to start a business and live year-round in the U.S., providing that their country of origin upholds its treaty, and the company is at least 50% owned by nationals from the treaty country. While the business doesn't need to adhere to any minimum investments or minimum job creation, it still must generate some profit. The E-2 visa can be extended indefinitely as long as its holder's company remains in business. 

One big difference between these visas is the ability for spouses and children to maintain residency and work in the U.S. With the EB-5, an investor's family is given the same opportunities to reside in the U.S. and become citizens. Under the E-2, spouses must file for work permits separately with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Under the E-2, children of international investors can attend school in the U.S., but they cannot work, and their eligibility for residency expires at the age of 21.

Julian Yates specializes in finding Florida dream homes for international homebuyers, and makes the search and purchase process a breeze. If you're from another country and want to buy property in Florida, contact Julian today.


Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist

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