The E2 Visa enables investors, entrepreneurs and skilled workers to live and work in the United States, provided that they make a qualifying direct investment in the country first. While the E2 visa is considered a non-immigrant visa and doesn’t lead to permanent residence, the E2 Visa to Green Card pathway is possible, albeit indirectly.
In this guide, we’ll break down the immigration process of securing your E2 and eventually Green Card, through five easy pathways.
What is the E2 Visa?
An E2 Visa enables foreign investors to place capital (funds and/or assets) in the US. The investment itself is considered profitable, and the applicant must build a business from scratch or buy an existing business to be eligible for the visa. Note that only investors from a treaty country (meaning the treaty country holds a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the US) can apply.
For more information, consult our E2 Visa USA Ultimate Guide.
E2 Visa Benefits
Foreign nationals can legally work in the US
Travel and do business in and out of the country freely
Stay for unlimited two-year periods
Family included in application (spouse, minors and unmarried children under 21)
Financial Requirements for E2 Visa to a Green Card
The E2 Visa doesn’t have a defined investment threshold. Rather, you must show you’ve injected a substantial amount of capital in a business and that the respective investment carries a certain degree of risk. Generally speaking, an investment starting anywhere from $100,000 and up is considered a safe bet. The investment amount must be enough to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise you establish or run.
If you are then looking to transition from an E2 Visa to a visa that offers permanent residency, you will need to factor in various costs. The EB5 Visa, for example, requires an investment of at least $800,000 if you invest in a Targeted Employment Area or $1,050,000 million if you invest outside of one. Additionally, this visa, like the options available to you, requires various application costs. You should also factor in the costs of working with immigration attorneys.
E2 Visa to Green Card Process
For a foreign national to secure a Green Card and permanent resident status from an E2 Visa, they must apply for a visa in the immigrant visa category. There are two ways to do this:
- Apply for a visa at a US consulate abroad
- Adjust your status to an immigrant status within the United States.
Securing an Immigrant Visa at a US Consulate (Consular Processing)
If you are not in the US legally, you will likely need to apply for an E2 visa at a United States consulate within your home country. This process is known as “consular processing” or “visa processing.”
If you are in the US and have lawful status, you can apply for an adjustment of status. This basically lets you convert your non-immigration visa status to immigrant visa status. The entire process is completed in the USA. Note that as long as you have lawful status, you don’t need to leave the country.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on how to convert your E2 visa to an immigrant one.
E2 Visa to Green Card: Step-by-Step
- Consult with immigration attorneys
- Select your immigrant visa classification
- Apply for your immigrant visa
- Obtain the Green Card and lawful permanent residency
Five ways to convert E2 Visa to Green Card
Converting your E2 Visa to a Green card involves securing an immigrant visa. Options include the EB-5 investment visa, employer sponsorship, the EB1A for extraordinary ability, a National Interest Waiver, or a marriage-based green card. In this section, we’ll explore the five options available to foreign nationals for getting an immigrant visa and obtaining permanent residence status:
- EB5 Visa
- A company-sponsored Green Card
- EB1A Visa
- National Interest Waiver
- Marriage-based Green Card
1. EB5 Visa
The EB5 Visa is an immigrant visa that allows investors to live and work in the United States with attaining permanent residence possible, provided they invest in a US business first (minimum of $1,050,000 or a reduced minimum investment of $800,000 if in a targeted employment area). With an EB5, you can acquire a Green Card, along with your direct family members. Curious to learn more? Check out our EB5 Visa USA Permanent Resident Guide.
One of the main benefits of moving from an E2 Visa to EB5 Visa is that any additional capital in your E2 business could potentially count toward your EB5 minimum investment amount. So let’s say you’ve invested $100,000 in your E2 business. This could count toward your EB5 investment amount, so instead of having to contribute $1,050,000, your contribution would be $950,000 (or $700,000 rather than $800,000 if your investment falls is in one of the targeted employment areas).
Important note: For your investment earnings to count toward your EB5 investment, you have to redirect the money out of the business and re-invest it in the E2. While many immigration lawyers see this as a pain, it’s necessary for immigration purposes.
2. Company-Sponsored Green Card
Another way to convert your E2 status to a Green Card and get lawful permanent residence is to have a company sponsor you. Whether you or your spouse receives the job offer is the same thing.
A key benefit of the E2 is that it allows your spouse to work. Since the main applicant can only be committed to their own investment company, the spouse acquires work authorization, enabling the spouse to effectively get a sponsored green card.
To go through this route, the US employer willing to sponsor you must obtain a labor certification through the Department of Labor. This is known as the PERM labor certification process and includes your employer submitting a “prevailing wage determination” to ensure that the position you will be undertaking provides meets the salary requirements of the US immigration service.
The next step is for you to get approved for either an EB2 Visa (the second preference employment-based category) or an EB3 Visa (the third preference category for employment-based visas), and have your visa status adjusted accordingly.
This is a three-step process:
- Company obtains labor certification
- You apply for the employment-based visa
- Adjustment of status or visa processing
3. EB1A Visa if you have an ‘Extraordinary Ability’
The EB1A visa is an immigrant visa for people holding extraordinary abilities in either the arts, sciences, athletics, education or business space. It is a legitimate pathway to acquiring permanent residence in the US.
To qualify and become a permanent resident, you must prove three things:
- You have an extraordinary ability
- You will work in the USA in your field
- Your entry to the United States will substantially benefit the nation
One of the main advantages of an EB1A visa is that it does not require an employer to sponsor you. You can file an EB1A visa yourself without needing to have a job offer or company sponsorship under your belt.
4. National Interest Waiver
Another viable option to obtain the Green Card with your E2 Visa is if you manage to acquire a national interest waiver. As a subcategory of the E2 Visa, a national interest waiver applies to advanced degree professionals or individuals with exceptional abilities. In a nutshell, the national interest waiver basically waives the requirement for you to go through the labor certification process and obtain the certificate from a US employer.
To be eligible for the national interest waiver, you have to tick the following boxes:
- You must qualify for an EB-2 visa (without the labor certification)
- The field you plan to work in must hold substantial merit and national importance
- You must be well positioned to advance in your endeavour
- You must prove that it is in the United States’ national interest to waive the requirement for you to have a US job offer from a company with an approved labor certification.
5. Marriage-Based Green Card
A marriage-based Green Card is pretty self-explanatory. You can acquire a Green Card via a bona-fide legitimate marriage to a US citizen or someone with lawful permanent resident status.
How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?
Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments.
We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application.
Frequently Asked Questions About the E2 Visa to a Green Card Process
How to convert my E2 Visa to a Green Card?
If you’re an E2 Visa holder, you must apply for one of the following visa routes to acquire permanent residence: EB5 Visa, Company Sponsored Green Card, EB1A Visa (if you have an extraordinary ability), National Interest Waiver, and marriage-based Green Card.
If you have a family member who is a US citizen and is over 21, they may be able to sponsor your Green Card application.
Can I marry and get the Green Card with lawful permanent residence?
A marriage-based Green Card is only attainable if it is a legitimate, lawful wedding.
What is the difference between the E2 Visa and EB5 Visa?
A key difference is that the E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa. It doesn’t directly lead to a Green Card or permanent residence, while an EB5 visa does.
While both programs require a substantial investment in a US business (either existing business or new business) the terms of the program are notably different.
Can I apply for a change in my immigration status myself?
Because US immigration law is complex, it is strongly recommended to consult with a law firm first before looking to transition from your E2 Visa.
To avoid a disappointing outcome in your Green Card Application process, we recommend seeking assistance from an immigration lawyer or a qualified law firm.
An immigration lawyer can ensure that you have all the necessary documents and give applicants the best chance of becoming permanent residents.
How long does it take to convert an E2 Visa to a Green Card?
The E2 to Green Card conversion timeline spans a spectrum, influenced by your chosen pathway and current processing backlogs. Individual factors such as nationality can further impact the timeline.
Meticulous preparation and expert guidance can make the process of becoming US permanent residents smoother for all applicants.
What's the most efficient way for foreign nationals with an E2 Visa to get US permanent resident status?
Employment-focused pathways such as EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) or PERM with employer sponsorship can potentially lead to a foreign national gaining legal permanent residency within 8-11 months.
However, eligibility for NIW requires demonstrating exceptional talent in your field, while the PERM process involves labor certification requirements.