The United States has created several different types of work visas and Green Cards. Some statuses are for temporary workers while others are for permanent workers, and some statuses require certain skills or occupations while others requirement financial investment. The EB-5 Green Card and the E-2 visa are examples of statuses that require financial investment. While the E-2 visa may offer a more accessible path to the US, the EB-5 Green Card offers the most direct path to lawful permanent status in the US.
The E-2 visa allows someone from a treaty country (a country that the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with) to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis, who either invests a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business, or works for an individual or company that invests a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. There is no specific dollar amount required; however, the investment must have the capacity to generate more income than to just provide a living to the investor. The applicant must demonstrate that the investment is not marginal by providing a detailed business plan, U.S. or foreign tax returns, financial statements, and payroll summaries. The applicant can apply for his spouse and children to accompany him, provided that the children are unmarried and under 21 years old.
The EB-5 Green Card allows someone who invests in and manages a new commercial enterprise to work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Generally, the investment must be at least $1,000,000; however, the investment may be at least $500,000 if the investment is in a Targeted Employment Area (an area with high unemployment or a rural area). The applicant must provide evidence that the investment funds were obtained through lawful means and the investment funds cannot be borrowed. The investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers within two years of the investment, which the applicant must demonstrate in a comprehensive business plan. Like the E-2 visa, the applicant can apply for his spouse and children to accompany him, provided that the children are unmarried and under 21 years old.
At first glance, the E-2 visa may seem more attractive than the EB-5 because the E-2 does not require a specific dollar of the investment. However, the E-2 does not provide a direct path to US citizenship, while the EB-5 is a green card and does. Those who receive an E-2 visa may renew the visa indefinitely as long as they fulfill the requirements, but it is still a temporary visa. Those who receive an EB-5 Green Card are granted conditional permanent residence for a two-year period, and then can apply to have any restrictions removed before the two-year period expires. As Lawful Permanent Residents, the EB-5 Green Card holders may then complete the residence requirements and apply for US citizenship through naturalization. For this reason, those considering the E-2 visa might want to also consider the EB-5 Green Card if they can meet the more stringent requirements.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader.
This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Canada, Australia and England.