Two types of investment visas
The United States currently offers two types of investment visas: the E-2 visa (View the program) and the EB-5 investment visa (View the program). These two visas are both incredible options for foreign investors and entrepreneurs that are looking to establish a business and live in the United States of America.
On the surface, both visas appear to be very similar, with both allowing you to live and work in the U.S. based on making an investment in a US business. However, key differences do apply, impacting both eligibility and suitability for a particular investor’s purposes.
THE BASICS: What is the EB-5 and E-2 Visa?
One key difference between the two visas is that an E-2 is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa while an EB-5 is an immigrant (permanent, “green card”) visa. The EB-5 promotes a direct path to a green card, which is one reason the capital requirement is initially much higher than the E-2 visa, and the process takes longer. However, the E-2 is renewable in 5-year intervals, which means you will be able to extend your stay if you continue to meet the requirements.
Each visa attempts to facilitate foreign investment in the US, but each does so in a different way. The E-2 is a treaty investor visa, meaning that it will only apply to investors who are nationals of a country who has signed a relevant treaty with the US. One example is Grenada, which offers a citizenship by investment program. Indian Nationals will need to first obtain a passport through Grenada or another country that has an E-2 treaty signed with the United States, as India does not have a signed treaty.
EB-5 Visa requirements
- Investment in a “New Commercial Enterprise”
- The cost is a minimum investment of USD 800,000
- Creation and maintenance at least 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S worker
E-2 Visa requirements
- National of a country with a relevant treaty with the US
- The cost is a “substantial” investment amount (generally USD 250,000 – USD 300,000) recommended
- You must acquire, start, or expand a business or franchise
- Must create at least 2 jobs for qualified US workers in the USA
It is important to note that property is not an acceptable form of investment for the EB-5 visa. However, it is a possibility to set up an E2 qualifying real estate company.
Another major difference between the E-2 visa and the EB-5 visa has to do with your ability to work in the US. As mentioned previously, both visas authorize you to work in the US, but the difference is in the extent to which and where you can work.
You are authorized to work for any company with an EB-5 visa. While you will still be required to be involved in the management of the EB-5 business, you can work for other companies as you wish.
If you are the principal investor of an E-2 visa, you can only work for the E-2 business. You will also be required to directly manage and develop the E-2 business within the United States.
WHAT ABOUT MY SPOUSE AND DEPENDENTS?
For E-2 visa holders, their spouses may also obtain an E-2 visa (View the program) and a work permit. Children may receive E-2 visas (View the program), but upon turning 21 must depart the U.S. or change status, usually to a temporary student visa (F-1 visa).
For the EB-5 visa, (View the program) the application process permits the spouse and children under 21 to immigrate to the U.S. with the principal investor and receive a green card.
Understanding the EB-5 Visa requirements and E-2 Visa requirements will help investors choose the best option for themselves and their family. While the processing time to obtain the E-2 is shorter and the investment amount is much less than the EB-5 visa, an E-2 is a temporary visa and there must be a treaty. As India does not have an E-2 treaty with the US, Indian Nationals may consider applying for citizenship to another country that has an E-2 treaty with the USA, such as Grenada and Canada, and from there, work toward citizenship in the USA. Working with experienced immigration attorneys from the beginning will ensure you are updated on the latest news and choose the right path to U.S. residence based on your immigration goals and individual circumstances.
WHY SHOULD YOU GET EXPERT ADVICE?
In the United States, immigration-related advice is reserved for lawyers. Harvey Law Group (HLG) has more than 30 years’ experience in the immigration field and more than 20 offices around the world.
If you would like to discuss your plans with one of our legal professionals, please contact us at [email protected].