For Turkish People Aspiring to Live the American Dream
According to the Turkish Coalition of America, there are approximately 350,000 Americans of Turkish descent currently living in the United States. Despite this, there are still many more citizens of Turkey who seek to obtain a Green Card and aspire to live in the United States of America.
WHAT IS A GREEN CARD?
A Green Card, known officially as a Permanent Resident Card, is an identification document that grants a person the right to permanent residency in the United States. As lawful permanent residents, they, their spouses, and any dependent children under 21 can legally live in the United States. In addition, they can also legally work as well as attend schools, colleges, and universities. While Green Card holders can reside in and work in the United States, they do not have full citizenship rights, such as the right to vote. However, after being a lawful permanent resident for five years, Green Card residents can apply to become naturalized American citizens.
CAN A TURKISH CITIZEN GET A GREEN CARD?
There are currently three possible pathways Turkish citizens can legally obtain a Green Card.
USA EB-5 VISA
The EB-5 (View the programme) is a residency-by-investment program that gives permanent residency status to the successful candidate, their spouse, and dependent children under the age of 21. Under this program, all family members are legally allowed to live, work, and study in the United States, and there are no minimum educational or language requirements. The USA EB-5 visa requires a financial commitment of at least USD 800,000 (inside a Targeted Employment Area – TEA) or USD 1,050,000 (outside a TEA) and must create at least ten new jobs in the US economy. Commercial real estate investments are among the options available. The program grants a conditional Green Card, which before the 2nd anniversary, candidates must file a petition for the removal of the conditions set on a conditional green card. After five years of residency, candidates can apply for permanent US citizenship.
USA EB-2 START-UP VISA
The EB-2 Start-up visa (View the progamme) is a visa designed for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, who will encourage economic growth with a project that is beneficial to the United States. For successful candidates, this program gives an unconditional Green Card (permanent residency status) to the candidate, their spouse, and dependents under the age of 21. It requires a financial commitment of at least USD 300,000, in which a minimum of USD 100,000 must be committed to research and development supported by a government-backed US research facility. This visa does have an educational requirement of at least a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 5 years of relevant work experience in line with the business idea or proposed venture.
USA EB-2 NIW IMMIGRATION PROGRAM FOR EXPERIENCED PILOTS
The EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) (View the programme) is an immigrant visa that grants a foreign national lawful permanent residency in the US without the requirement of an employment offer. Foreign nationals who can prove their residency would be of national interest to the US through exceptional ability and academic background in the sciences, arts, or business can qualify. For example, the American aviation industry is currently suffering a severe shortage of pilots and through the EB-2 NIW visa, successful candidates and their qualifying family members can qualify for an unconditional Green Card (permanent residency status) in the United States within 8 to 16 months.
“This is a fairly new opportunity, launched only in January of 2022,” Jean-François Harvey, founder and managing partner of Harvey Law Group (HLG), clarifies. “The process is rigorous, and an inadequate submission will certainly result in a denial. Nonetheless, we have had a number of approvals, so it is achievable. Further, our experience has been that age, nationality, rank, and similar considerations do not seem to count against an applicant. Every case is assessed by the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) on its own individual merits.”
AN E-2 VISA IS NOT A GREEN CARD
Turkey is one of the select group of countries that have an E-2 (View the programme) treaty with the United States. The E-2 visa gives the successful applicant and their qualifying family the right to live, work, and study in the USA for up to five years. After which can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the conditions are maintained. An E-2 visa is not a Green Card, it is explicitly a non-immigrant visa. However, there are provisions that allow for the holder of an E-2 visa to apply for a Green Card. Although the law does not state a minimum investment sum, practice has defined that a “substantial” amount is around USD 250,000 and must be invested in a qualifying business in the United States.
In the United States, immigration-related advice is reserved for lawyers. As Jean-François Harvey of HLG notes, “the requirements, documentation and processes for some of these visas is complex. We do recommend you get professional advice.”
Harvey Law Group (HLG) has more than 30 years’ experience in the immigration field. Unlike agents or non-authorised firms, HLG is a professional immigration law firm, and as such, has an obligation to advise you on the best options and on the programs most suited to your goals. HLG has offices in both the United States and Turkey.