Investment Green Card: The Difference Between an EB5 Visa & E2 Visa

The United States has long been an advocate of investment migration with its own E2 visa and EB5 visa schemes. The E2 visa and the EB-5 are fantastic options for investors or entrepreneurs looking to establish a business in the US and live in the country. While both visas appear similar, key differences apply, namely in respect to the investment green card.

In this guide, discover which visa is right for you and your specific immigration needs.

What is an investment green card?

In the United States, the green card is a permit that allows a foreign national to live freely and work without restrictions in the US. There are a number of ways to obtain a green card. 

Under the immigrant investor program, the United States government welcomes investors to set up a business with the intention of creating full-time jobs and in return, attain permanent residency in the form of a green card. This scheme is called the EB 5 visa program and was developed to support economic growth and stimulate the U.S. economy. 

While the EB5 promotes a direct path to a green card for applicants and their family members, the E2 visa program is also an alternative option for investors. As a non-immigration visa, you can’t acquire a green card directly but a pathway to permanent residence is also possible. 

Below we cover the differences between an EB5 visa and E2 visa USA.

Difference between EB 5 immigrant investor visa and E2

There are seven key differences between the EB 5 immigrant investor visa and the E2 visa, which we outline below.

  1. The E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. Meanwhile, the EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa and provides a pathway to a permanent resident permit.
  2. The E2 is only available to certain nationalities, dependent on whether their respective country holds an E2 treaty with the US. The EB-5 visa is open to everyone. 
  3. The EB-5 visa minimum investment amounts to $500,000. The E2 visa has no minimum investment amount threshold, as long as you make a substantial investment in capital.
  4. The EB-5 visa requires that you create ten full-time jobs for US workers. The E2 visa has no job creation requirement. Instead, the E2 visa requires that your business not be “marginal.”
  5. Both the E2 and EB5 schemes need your investment funds to be lawful. You must prove be able to prove this with relevant documents. 
  6. The application processing time is faster for the E2, with some applications being processed in as little as 15 days. Meanwhile, the EB5 visa takes up to two years to be approved.
  7. With an E2 visa you, as the principal investor, you can only work for the E2 company. With an EB-5 visa, you can work for any company.

Breaking down the requirements

An E-2 visa requires:

  • Temporary stay in the United States. Does not lead to a green card directly
  • A substantial investment in a U.S. company (approximately $100K give or take)
  • U.S. company must be majority-owned by nationals of the treaty country
  • U.S. business is an operating business and not considered a “marginal” enterprise
  • E2 visa leads employment creation
  • The visa applicant is an owner, executive, manager or has essential skills (and can prove as such)

EB 5 green card involves:

  • Conditional residency followed by permanent resident status
  • Investment of at least $500,000 or $1 million (depending on whether investment falls in a targeted employment area (TEA) meaning, a high unemployment area.)
  • Creation of ten full-time permanent jobs
  • Proof of lawful source of funds
  • Limited yearly visa cap if 10,000 

Still struggling to decide which visa is best suited for you? Why not consider speaking to an experienced immigration lawyer. We offer a free 30-minute consultation with our investment migration consultants, where you have the chance to find out whether the E2 or EB5 visa is for you. One of our team members can weigh in, offering advice on how likely it is for your application to succeed. Click here to contact us.

Benefits of obtaining an investment green card

Become a permanent resident

Become a permanent resident

Family members, including the spouse and unmarried children, can also obtain the permit

Family members, including the spouse and unmarried children, can also obtain the permit

Do unlimited business in the US

Do unlimited business in the US

Travel in and out of the US freely

Travel in and out of the US freely

Access a high quality of life in a safe, and stable US economy

Access a high quality of life in a safe, and stable US economy

Documents needed for the green card

While the document requirements differ, some general documents are required, irrespective of which visa you opt for. You must file these with the USCIS

Namely, you’ll need the following:

  • Copy of Personal Passport (current & expired) and Form I-94
  • Copy of Family Member Passports (all pages)
  • Evidence that you have invested or are in the process of investing the amount required ($1,800,000 or $900,000)
  • Household Registration
  • Copy of Any Previous Immigration Applications
  • Certified copies of any judgment, pending governmental civil or criminal actions, or private civil actions against the petitioner from any court in or outside the U.S. within the past 15 years.
  • Proof of Business Ownership
  • Copy of any and all Business Licenses
  • Last 5 years of Tax Returns (both business and personal)
  • Last 5 years of Bank Statements
  • Evidence of other Sources of Capital
  • Financial Statements for each business
  • Evidence that the investment funds were obtained through lawful means

In addition, for the EB 5 immigrant investor visa you’ll need the following:

  • Proof that you’ve invested in a designated Regional Center, according to the approved regional center business plan.
  • A letter from USCIS should be attached with the Form I-526 designating the regional center you’ve picked. Your investment must be in a business enterprise within the location stated in the letter.
  • Proof, if applicable, that your business falls in a targeted employment area. 
  • Proof that your investment in the Regional Center will create at least ten direct or indirect full-.time jobs.

Note, the documentation required is extensive, and the list supplied above is subject to change at the discretion of USCIS. To get the full picture of the paperwork needed for your application to succeed, speak to one of our immigration consultants. 

What investor immigration visa program should I pick?

Understanding the nuanced requirements between an EB 5 visa and E-2 visa is vital so that investors and their family members can make the best decision on their own terms. While the timeframe to obtaining the E-2 is quicker and the investment threshold is lower than the EB5, the E2 is, after all, a non-immigrant visa. Meaning, your visa is temporary. For those who would like to immigrate to the US and live, work, and study freely in the country as a permanent resident, then the EB5 is the right choice.

Frequently asked questions about the investment green card

What visa lets me get a green card?

The EB5 visa provides a direct pathway to a green card and permanent residency. Whereas the E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, letting you only temporarily live in the US for work.

What’s better, the EB5 visa or the E2 visa?

It depends on your needs. For instance, the EB5 visa is a good move if you’d like to relocate to the US permanently. Your family can also obtain permanent residents. If you’re interested in investing only, then consider the E2 visa, since the investment threshold is lower, and your application generally gets approved within 15 days.

What’s the timeframe for getting the EB5 visa versus the E2?

The EB5 visa usually takes around two years to get approved by USCIS, whereas the E2 visa is approved within 15 business days (premium fast-track option).