Advantages of the E-2 and the EB-5 visas
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
The E-2 treaty investor visa category allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.
Some people call the E-2 the next best thing to U.S. permanent residence, because it is possible to obtain via self-employment, and it comes with an unlimited number of extensions. Also, there are no annual limits on the number of E-2 visas that can be issued to qualified applicants.
The treaty investor can work legally in the U.S. for a U.S. business in which a substantial cash investment has been made by the visa holder or other citizens of the country of origin, so long as this country has a trade treaty with the U.S.
The treaty investor may travel in and out of the U.S. or remain here continuously until the visa and status expire.
The treaty investor is restricted to working only for the employer or self-owned business that acted as the E-2 visa sponsor.
The initial E-2 visa may last up to five years, with unlimited possible five-year extensions.
Each time the treaty investor enters the U.S., he or she will be admitted for two years.
Visas are available for an accompanying spouse and minor, unmarried children. However, the children cannot work in the U.S.
A spouse will be permitted to accept employment in the U.S.
Advantages of the E-2 Treaty Investor visa:
Allows foreign investors from over 75 countries, signatories of an investment treaty with the U.S., to establish, develop, and operate a business of their choice in the U.S.;
See U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
There is no set minimum investment required. The regulations state only that the investment must be sufficient to develop a successful, non-marginal business.
However a substantial initial investment should be at least $150,000+ for the proposed business to develop according to the State Department criteria;
The E-2 investor’s spouse and children under 21 will be issued E-2 dependent visas. The E-2 spouse may apply for a work authorization based on his/her E-2 dependent visa;
E-2 dependent children under 21 may attend the school of their choice in the U.S., but they do not qualify for a work visa;
E-2 visa holders may stay outside the U.S. for an undetermined amount of time, and still re-enter the U.S. with their visa, as long as it is valid; and In many states, the children of E-2 visa holders qualify for in-state tuition at state universities until they cease to qualify as E-2 dependents at the age of 21.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa (EB-5 Regional Center Green Card)
The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, i.e., it leads to permanent residence.
The EB-5 visa requires an investment of $500,000 in a Government-approved Regional Center project.
A Regional Center is a legal entity, organization, or a municipal or state agency that has been designated as a Regional Center by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), which enables foreign nationals to qualify for permanent residence based on their investment in a Regional Center Project.
A Regional Center sets up limited partnerships, each with its own business activity, and manages the business of the limited partnerships as the general partner. Foreign investors who wish to obtain permanent residence in the United States may become limited partners through a $500,000 investment in a project. The investor is not involved in the daily management of the Regional Center.
Regional Centers must create at least 10 new, full-time jobs per investor for the investors to be approved for permanent residence. These jobs can be direct, indirect, or expenditure-based jobs. Each Regional Center Business Plan contains a “job creation methodology” on which the Center’s job calculation is based.
The investor must prove that he/she has invested funds that were obtained through legitimate means such as employment, business ownership, investment, inheritance, or a gift. USCIS expects the investor to provide tax returns from the investor’s home country or country of current residence, and to document clearly how the investment funds were obtained.
USCIS requires that the investment be “at risk” in the commercial sense; thus, the Regional Centers cannot guarantee the return of the investment funds.
EB-5 Immigration Processing:
After the investor has made a $500,000 investment in the Regional Center of his/her choice, the immigration attorney files the Immigrant Petition with USCIS on behalf of the investor. At this stage, processing can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months, depending on the Regional Center.
Upon approval of the initial petition, the attorney files for consular processing of an immigrant visa for the investor and his/her family, or for adjustment of status in the U.S., if the investor is in the U.S. with a long-term visa.
The initial conditional Green Card is issued for 2 years. Before the end of the 2 years, the investor’s attorney must file for the removal of the green card condition. To qualify for the permanent green card, the investor must prove to immigration that the investment is still in place and that the Regional Center has created 10 jobs per investor, as per the previously approved business plan.
Advantages of the EB-5 Investor Program:
The investor can live in the U.S. State of his/her choice, and does not need to manage the investment business;
EB-5 investors may work for any employer in any position; they may operate their own business; or, they may retire;
Unlike E-2 investors, EB-5 green card holders do not have to leave the U.S. at regular intervals, and they can manage their own business without visa constraints;
EB-5 investors and their family members can freely enjoy the many benefits of permanent residence in the U.S.;
The children of EB-5 green card holders are free to work or to attend the school of their choice, and they qualify for scholarships and in-state tuition;
There no repeated visa denial worries for EB-5 green card holders