Navigating the intricate web of immigration options can be exciting yet complex. The decision between the E-2 visa and EB-5 visa may appear straightforward for foreign investors and entrepreneurs. However, these visas diverge significantly in their requirements, benefits, and long-term pathways to permanent residency. Discerning which visa is most suitable for you will depend on your personal circumstances. Here are the key differences between the E2 visa and EB-5 visa:
1. Purpose and Eligibility
The first difference between the E-2 and EB-5 visa is that an E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa designed for nationals of a country that maintain a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. and want to invest in and manage a U.S. business. India, China, and Brazil are some of the countries ineligible for the E-2 visa. Because nonimmigrant visas allow admission into the U.S. only temporarily, the E-2 visa does not result in a green card.
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa designed for foreign investors who seek to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. as a green card holder by investing in a new commercial enterprise. There are no nationality requirements for participation in the EB-5 visa program.
2. Investment Amount
There is no fixed minimum investment amount for the E-2 visa. Whether the investment is deemed substantial and sufficient will depend on the nature and size of the U.S. business.
The EB-5 visa requires a minimum investment amount of $1,050,000, or $800,000, if the investment is made in a targeted employment area (TEA), which is an area with high unemployment or within a rural area.
The E-2 and EB-5 visas require the applicant to provide evidence of their lawful source of funds to ensure the capital used for the investment is traceable and was obtained legally. Both visas also require the funds to be at risk, meaning they are fully committed to the business at the time of investment and involve the possibility of losing funds.
3. Job Creation Requirements
Although the E-2 visa has no explicit job creation requirement, the investment enterprise may not be marginal. USCIS interprets this to mean the business should have the present or future capacity to generate enough income to provide minimal living expenses for the foreign investor and their family and create job opportunities in the community.
The EB-5 visa, on the other hand, requires the creation of at least ten full-time jobs to be fulfilled by qualifying workers within two years of the investor’s admission into the U.S.
4. Period of Stay and Renewal
An E-2 visa is initially granted for a maximum stay of two years and can be renewed in additional two-year increments as many times as long as the investor continues to meet the requirements.
An EB-5 visa initially provides conditional permanent residency, which can be made permanent by removing conditions after a two-year conditional period as long as the investor meets the program criteria.
5. Change of Status from E-2 visa to EB-5 visa
Although the E-2 visa does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residency, eligible foreign nationals can take advantage of it as a faster way to enter the U.S., as USCIS can process E-2 visa applications in as little as 15 days with premium processing.
With strategic planning and documentation, a transition from an E-2 visa to an EB-5 visa is possible, resulting in eventual permanent residency.
To check if your home country has an E-2 visa with the U.S., visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html