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R1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared

By Terry Martin

The fifth preference employment based visa (EB5) was created in 1990 as a way for foreign investors to gain United States permanent residency (and eventual citizenship if desired), through an investment in a new or pre-existing American business that sees the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs for American workers. The R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers Visa is described by the government’s website as being a visa for a “foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to be employed at least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week) by a non-profit religious organization in the United States (or an organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States) to work as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation.”  In this article we will take a closer look at the R-1 and Eb5 Green Card visas to see how their paths to a Green Card Visa compare and contrast.

R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers Visa Qualifications – As per the government’s website:

To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least 2 years immediately preceding the filing of the petition.

Every petition for an R-1 worker must be filed by a prospective or existing U.S. employer through the filing of a Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.  An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior approval of Form I-129 by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  If the foreign national is visa-exempt (e.g. Canadian), he or she must present the original Form I-797, Notice of Action, reflecting an approval of a valid I-129 R petition at a port of entry.  There are certain general requirements which must be satisfied by the petitioning organization as well as by the religious worker, the beneficiary of the petition.  These requirements can be found in greater detail at

EB5 Visa – In stark contrast to the R-1 Visa, lays the Immigrant Investor Visa. According to the government’s web page, to qualify for the EB5 Visa Program you must:

    1. Invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000.  If your investment is in a designated targeted employment area (A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.) then the minimum investment requirement is $500,000.
    2. Benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets.
    3. Create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.  This includes U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the U.S. (however it does not include you (the immigrant), or your spouse, sons or daughters).
    4. Be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a Limited Partner, corporate officer or board member.

We see in this comparison that the R-1 and EB5 immigrant investor visa are very different in nature and offer disparate paths to a Green Card Visa. While the R-1 allows a foreign citizen to enter the country in order to temporarily work for a religion based non-profit organization, the EB5 visa relies on an immigrant’s investment to create new full-time jobs for the American workforce.

This article was written by Terry Martin. For information on the Eb5 Green Card also known as the Immigrant Investor Visa, and to learn how to earn a Green Card Visa through this program, he recommends you visit

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Martin, Terry "R1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared." R1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared. 26 Jun. 2010. 25 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Martin, T (2010, June 26). R1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared. Retrieved August 25, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Martin, Terry "R1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared"

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