U.S. Immigration Law welcomes foreign nationals to invest in the country’s economic growth and infrastructure, and in turn, acquire temporary residency and even the US green card. Known as the US Investor Visa, certain individuals are eligible to apply. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the different investor visas, so you can acquire a clear understanding of which options are available to you.
What is a US Investor Visa?
First things first, what is an investor visa? It allows individuals who’d like to set up base in the United States to do so, provided that they make a qualifying investment in the nation first. With an investor visa, you can work, live, and even study in the US, and your family members are eligible to join in on the benefits. While not all countries are eligible, certain investors who meet specific criteria can apply.
US Investor Visa Types
Below we cover the different types of visas available to you.
Temporary Investor Visa (E2 or E1)
There are two types of temporary investor visas: the E-1 and the E-2 Visa. The E1 visa allows individuals or company employees to enter the United States and conduct international trade. Trade can be classified as the trade of goods, services, and banking.
Meanwhile, the E2 visa allows investors who have significant funds to invest in to enter the United States and set up a business, practice, or office. Benefits include a quick visa processing timeframe, the ability for the investor to live in the US along with his family, and a lower investment threshold (roughly $100,000). Note, the E2 can only be obtained by nationals holding an E2 treaty with the USA, and obtaining a green card isn’t likely.
While neither the E2 nor E1 visas provide residency (nor a green card), one of the biggest advantages of the E2 visa is that it can be extended indefinitely, for as long as the business investment is maintained. Meaning, as the primary investor, you can live freely in the United States.
For more information, check out our E2 visa USA guide here.
EB 5 Immigrant Investor Visa
The US Congress established the EB 5 Immigrant investor Visa to attract capital to the United States and simultaneously generate jobs for American workers. The EB 5 visa leads to permanent residence in the form of a green card, with citizenship by naturalization also possible.
The whole application process lasts around two years, with the applicant required to make a minimum capital investment of $900,000 in a United States enterprise. The enterprise must be located in a designated targeted employment area. Alternatively, the investor can contribute $1,800,000 in a non-targeted employment area. Usually, after the investment project is completed, the investor receives the contribution back. From a variety of work opportunities and top-rated education to excellent living standards, the USA is an easy choice for those looking beyond just a simple investment.
For more information, check out our EB 5 visa USA permanent resident guide here.
Do you have an extraordinary ability that can bring value to the United States? If so, then the O-1 visa may be for you. The O-1 is granted to individuals with extraordinary abilities in the arts, sciences, business education, or athletics field. While it is considered a work visa, it can be applicable to investors in some of these areas, particularly business, in which one may hold extraordinary skills. The O-1 visa initially grants you a maximum of three years to stay in the United States and complete the specific event or activity. You can extend your stay of up to one year to complete the same event or activity.
For more information, head over to the immigration services section of the USCIS site for a comprehensive overview of the O-1 visa.
Picking the right investor visa
If you’re after migrating to the United States temporarily, or permanently, the EB 5 immigrant investor and E2 visas are your best bet. Below, we outline seven key differences between the two v isas, so you can understand which visa is right for you.
- The E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa while the EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa and provides a pathway to a permanent resident permit (green card).
- The E2 is only available to people of some nationalities, depending on whether the respective country holds an E2 treaty with the US. Meanwhile, the EB-5 visa is open to everyone.
- The EB-5 visa minimum investment is $900,000. The E2 visa has no minimum investment threshold, you just need to 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 EB-5 visas need your investment funds to be lawful. You must 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 EB 5 visa takes up to two years to be approved.
- With an E2 visa you, as the principal investor, can only work for the E2 company. With an EB-5 visa, you can work for any company.