The U.S. immigration system has long contained provisions
which permit long-term or permanent status in the United States
through investment by a foreign investor. For many years, until
1990, a foreigner theoretically could seek immigrant status as an investor in a “nonpreference” category. Under the system of
allocating visas in force at that time, nonpreference visas would
be available if any immigrant visas remained after demand in all of the preference categories had been satisfied. Not surprisingly, because of perennial high demand for immigrant visas, the nonpreference avenue to permanent resident status became unavailable in September 1978 and never reemerged as a realistic alternative for immigration into the United States.