For immigrants wanting to legally live and work in the United States, the roadmap to a visa or green card can be quite complex. However, fortunately for investors and entrepreneurs looking to bring business to the United States, there are two options that can give these qualifying individuals access to legal status and work opportunities here in the United States.
An E2 Visa and an EB-5 Visa are two opportunities for individuals to live and work in the United States based on their investment in a business. However, while the two visas are viable options and have similar benefits, the requirements and length of status for the two are very different.
An E2 treaty Visa allows investors and employees of a business to live and work in the United States for an indefinite period of time as long as the individual continuously renews the visa and the business is still active in the United States. What makes this type of Visa easier for some individuals to obtain is that there is no minimum investment required. In the process of applying for an E2 Visa, the applicant must have money already invested in the business or held in an escrow account before the visa is granted to evidence that there is a substantial amount of money already invested towards this business.
With an E2 Visa, the visa holder is only authorized to work in the E2 business. E2 Visa holders can also add their spouses as derivatives to their application and this will give their spouse a work permit that will allow them to work in any business or field.
A major component of the E2 Visa is the country or nationality of the applicant. This Visa will only consider eligible individuals from certain countries. These countries must have an E2 Treaty with the United States. For example: Canada, Chile, France, and Spain are some of the countries that have E2 Treaties with the United States.
The E2 Treaty investor visa is a nonimmigrant temporary visa. This is one of the key differences between an E2 Visa and a EB-5 Visa being that an E2 is nonimmigrant temporary while an EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa. A Non immigrant visa category gives temporary status and does not lead to a green card. E2 Visas are renewable in intervals of 5 years.
EB-5 Visas are considered more rigorous to obtain and require a higher standard for qualification. As mentioned previously, unlike an E2 Visa, an EB-5 Visa is an immigrant permanent visa which means this visa can lead to a green card and lawful permanent residence in the United States
The minimum investment for an EB-5 Visa is $1 million into a U.S. Business. However, there are loopholes to this. If the individual is investing into a business considered a “targeted employment area” then they might be able to qualify for the visa with a reduced investment amount of $500,000. A “targeted employment area” is an area which at the time of investment is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment.
Another high standard for the EB-5 Visa is that the business must create at least 10 full time- jobs for U.S. employees. Unlike the E2 Visa, the EB-5 Visa does not have a nationality or country requirement.
When it comes to the scrutiny of both visas, the EB-5 will be held under a higher standard and rigor. This is mostly due to the fact that the EB-5 allows visa holders to obtain a green card and lawfully reside in the United States permanently. USCIS will thoroughly scrutinize both visa applications but expect all aspects of a EB-5 visa application to be deeply analyzed and calculated. From the financial documents to prove the funding for the proposed business to analysis of the positions being created.
Unlike the E2, EB-5 visas allow individuals to work in any field or business, they do not have to specifically work for the business they have invested in. However, they are still required to “engage in the management” of said business.
If you have a business you would like to invest in or start in the United States, you should seek legal advice from a licensed attorney to ensure that your best interests are upheld and the correct and necessary steps are taken to correctly and efficiently obtain an EB-5 or E2 Visa.
By: Valentina Quintero- Paralegal