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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Both the E2 and EB5 schemes need your investment funds to be lawful. You must prove be able to prove this with relevant documents.
- 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.
- 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.