GEDA provides investor desk services to potential investors. This includes pre-visit meeting scheduling, market research, and functioning as a liaison for networking with both government entities and private sector business organizations. Guam also participates in several U.S. federal government initiated economic incentives, such as the Guam Foreign Investment Equity Act, the Immigrant Investor Visa Program, and the “Guam Only” Visa Waiver Program.
Under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, there is a standard 30 percent state income tax rate for foreign investors in the United States. It is common feature of tax treaties negotiated by the U.S. to provide for lower tax rates on the investment income derived from treaty countries investments in the U.S.
Since Guam's territorial tax law mirrors the rates established under the U.S. Code, the territorial income tax rate for foreign investors in Guam is 30 percent. Foreign investors fund 75 percent of Guam's commercial development and the passage of the Guam Foreign Investment Equity Act is an important economic incentive to Guam.
The Guam Foreign Investment Equity Act, Public Law 107-212 was signed into law by President George Bush on August 21, 2002 and amends the Organic Act of Guam to provide the Government of Guam with the authority to tax foreign investors, at the same rates that the 50 U.S. states currently are able to access relative to existing tax treaties with certain foreign nations.
As an example, under a treaty with Japan, the rate at which states may tax Japanese investors is 10 percent. That means that a Japanese investor's income would also be taxed at a rate of 10 percent in Guam as in any of the fifty U.S. states.
An Investor Visa category that has attracted the attention of many prospective immigrants is the EB-5 Investor Visa created under the Immigration Act of 1990. This Visa category allows qualified foreign nationals to obtain lawful Permanent Resident Status (Green Cards) through investment in a U.S. enterprise. Ten thousand (10,000) Immigrant Visas are available each year to foreign investors establishing a “new commercial enterprise” or are in the process of investing in an existing enterprise on Guam.
A “new commercial enterprise” is any lawful, for-profit business established after November 29, 1990. Both the creation of a new business, and the purchase and re-capitalization or reorganization of an existing business is allowed.
The minimum investment in the fifty United States and U.S. territories such as Guam is $500,000USD, with the exception of the villages of Yigo and Dededo. The investment instruments required for Guam may include legally obtained cash, equipment, inventory, or other tangible property, and cash equivalents, such as: certificates of deposit, Treasury bonds, and other instruments, which are easily converted into cash.
- The primary focus of the program is the creation of employment. Employment must be created within 2-year time frame. Enterprise creates at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, exclusive of Investor’s spouse and children. “Full-time employment” is defined as employment in a position requiring a minimum of thirty-five (35) working hours per week.
- The commercial enterprise may be a sole proprietorship, limited or general partnership, joint venture, corporation, business trust, or any other publicly or privately owned business. Non-commercial activities, such as owning a personal residence, do not apply.
- An EB-5 Visa can be obtained without a regional center. The disadvantage is that the project must create 10 direct jobs. If done in conjunction with Guam Strategic Development Regional Center then the 10 jobs can be direct, indirect and induced.
- Multiple Investors are permissible, provided each Investor seeking a visa has invested the $500,000 required amount and created the required number of full-time positions.
- Investor personally manages the investment either through exercising day-to- day managerial control or through policy formulation and direction.
- New, For-Profit Commercial Enterprise
- Existing “Troubled” Businesses
- Approved Projects
- Hotel Office
- Mix-Use Developments
- Creation or preservation of 10 new full-time jobs for at least 10 U.S. Resident or citizen emloyees
- Distressed business – saving jobs
- Loss of 20% asset value
- Loss of 20% revenue
Obtain application Form I-526 (Alien Entrepreneur Petition) and Form I-485 (Adjustment Status Application) from Guam Strategic Development Regional Center:
- Application Process Submit a one page summary for consideration outlining: amount, timeline, needs, principals, etc
- If requested, submit a bonafied business plan
- Subject to economist review for program guidelines
- Regional Center will list business opportunity on website and transmit to agents
- Interested Investors are required to submit a Due Diligence Plan for background checks. Once vetted, they have access to download full opportunity package.
- If a match is made, negotiations will then take place
- Regional Center and investor enter into an LLC arrangement. The new entity does not need to have majority ownership. Note: The project driver will receive the investment capital.
- Immigration process processing – 45 days.
- Minimum total time is 60 to 90 days.
- Subscription, agent and other fees are applicable. (Acceptable forms of payment - cashiers check, money order, personal check.)
When the Investor Visa Application is approved, the Investor and his/her spouse and children under 21 years of age receive conditional Permanent Residence for a two-year period. The Investor and family members may then work and/or attend school in the United States, and travel at will on temporary visits abroad. The commercial enterprise, including the 10 full-time jobs must be satisfactorily maintained for a two-year period. There is no requirement that the enterprise make a profit. At the end of the two-year conditional period, the Investor is granted full Permanent Resident (Green Card) status. This must be done within the ninety (90) days preceding the end of the Investor’s second year. At this time, the Investor must have the intent to continue with the enterprise.
This program allows residents of 36 nations to travel to Guam, as tourists or to conduct business, for a maximum stay of 15 days without having to obtain a visa. Countries currently covered by this program include: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Republic of South Korea, Malaysia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Vanuatu and Western Samoa. All other visitors must conform to U.S. passport and visa requirements.
Each year there are millions of foreign visitors that travel to the United States for business or pleasure. They come as tourists or to visit family and friends. Others come for specific purposes, such as business, scientific, educational, or professional conferences/conventions, training, or consulting with business associates. Other foreign visitors also come for reasons such as medical treatment, voluntary programs for charitable organizations, as visiting ministers, or as personal/domestic employees.
A visa is granted permission to enter the United States. Foreign citizens desiring to travel to the United States must first apply for a visa at an American embassy or consulate abroad. A consular officer will determine whether you are qualified to obtain a visa. Citizens of certain countries may be able to travel without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if they meet certain conditions. They must be traveling to the U.S. for business or tourism for a period of not more than 90 days, have a round trip ticket, fly on certain air carriers, and meet other requirements. The visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a port-of-entry in the United States, such as an international airport, a seaport or a land border crossing. At the port-of-entry, an officer of the Department of Homeland Security decides whether to allow you to enter and how long you can stay.
- Recent changes in United States visa policy and procedures may increase the amount of time it takes for foreign visitors to obtain a visa.
- Changes introduced shortly after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing review of visa issuing practices as they relate to national security. For many applicants, a personal appearance interview is now required as a standard part of visa processing. Processing times are difficult to predict for an individual applicant. Many applicants require additional processing for their visa applications. While most additional processing takes 30 days or less, a small percentage may take considerably longer.
- All visitor visa applicants must have these things: Contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for specific information.
- Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-156, completed and signed
- Current, valid passport or travel document
- Photograph (2 x 2 inches, passport type)
- Application fees. All applicants must pay the application fee and might also pay an issuance fee
- Evidence of funds to cover expenses in the United States
- Evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad
- Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-157, for men between 16-45 years of age, and for all applicants age 16 and over who are from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.
- Note that a consular officer may ask any applicant to complete this form.
Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. At the Port of Entry (POE), an Immigration Inspector must authorize the traveler’s admission to the US. The inspector has authority to deny admission. Also, the inspector will determine how long the person is permitted to stay in the United States. If admitted, the inspector will issue the traveler a Form I-94, Record of Arrival/Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must apply for an extension of stay with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States.
The B1 or B2 visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for foreign citizens desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B1, Business Travel Visa) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B2, Tourist Visa). Those entering on visitor visas will generally be granted 6 months leave to remain (the maximum allowable is one year) on entry. It may be possible to obtain a six-month extension to the visit visa as long as the candidate will be maintaining visitor status, and there are good reasons to do so. Persons planning to travel to the US for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.
Applicants for B1 business or B2 tourist visa have the burden of showing that they qualify for such visa. The presumption is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for B1 or B2 visas must convince the consular officer the temporary nature of their trip by demonstrating that:
- The purpose of their trip is to enter the US for business, pleasure, or medical treatment;
- That they plan to remain for a specific, temporary period of time; and
- That they have a residence outside the US, as well as, other strong economic, financial, and family ties to their home country, which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.
Applicants for B1 business or B2 tourist visa should generally apply at the American Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. Although visa applicants may apply at any US consular office abroad, it may be more difficult to qualify for the visa outside the country of residence.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the United States. The “F” visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue academic studies and/or language training programs, and the “M” visa is reserved for nonimmigrants wishing to pursue nonacademic or vocational studies. The INA also provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. The “J” visa is for educational and cultural exchange programs designated by the U.S. Department of State, Exchange Visitor Program and Designation Staff, and the “Q” visa is for international cultural exchange programs designated by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (BCIS).
Foreign students seeking to study in the U.S. may enter in the F-1 or M-1 category provided they meet the following criteria:
- The student must be enrolled in an “academic” educational program, a language-training program, or a vocational program;
- The school must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
- The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
- The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
- The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and
- The student must maintain a residence abroad, which he/she has no intention of giving up
The “J” exchange visitor program is designed to promote the interchange of persons, knowledge, and skills in the fields of education, arts, and sciences. Participants include students at all academic levels; trainees obtaining on-the-job training with firms, institutions, and agencies; teachers of primary, secondary, and specialized schools; professors coming to teach or do research at institutions of higher learning; research scholars; professional trainees in the medical and allied fields; and international visitors coming for the purpose of travel, observation, consultation, research, training, sharing, or demonstrating specialized knowledge or skills, or participating in organized people-to-people programs. The “Q” international cultural exchange program is for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country in the United States.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Visitors entering on the Visa Waiver Program cannot work or study while in the US and cannot stay longer than 90 days or change their status to another category. Not all countries participate in the VWP and there are some restrictions that apply to this program.
NOTE: Representatives of the foreign press, radio, film, journalists or other information media, engaging in that vocation while in the U.S., require a nonimmigrant Media (I) visa cannot travel to the U.S. on the visa waiver program and cannot travel using a visitor visa, seeking admission by the DHS immigration inspector, at the U.S. at the port of entry.
- Have a valid passport issued by the participating country and be a citizen of that country;
- Be seeking entry for 90 days or less as a temporary visitor;
- If entering by air or sea, have a round-trip transportation ticket issued on a carrier that has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to participate in the VWP, and arrive in the U.S. aboard such a carrier.
- Have proof of financial solvency and hold a completed and signed visa waiver arrival/departure form I-94W, on which s/he has waived the right to a hearing of exclusion or deportation. These forms are available from participating carriers, from travel agents, and at land-border ports-of-entry.
The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) is a government, computerized system that maintains and manages data about foreign students and exchange visitors during their stay in the United States. It is part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This program is managed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).