A business venture in the U.S. by a foreign national seeking residency requires the individual to apply for an investor visa. The type of visa that the investor need to apply for depends upon a number of factors. The E-2 and the EB-5 visas are specifically designed for this purpose.
However, there are plenty of differences between these two types of visas. Therefore, it is easy to get confused unless you have a complete idea about the specifics. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that the E-2 and EB-2 investor visas differ in.
The E-2 visa provides a temporary residence to the investor in the U.S., which can never develop into a green card (permanent U.S. residence). In other words, E-2 is a non-immigrant visa. However, the E-2 visa can provide a temporary residence for up to 5 years and can be renewed indefinitely.
The EB-5 investor visa allows permanent residence in the U.S. to the investor. If the I-526 application is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), the applicant receives a conditional permanent residence in the U.S. for 2 years. The conditions, once fulfilled, can be removed by filing an I-829 application after 2 years of residence.
The E-2 visa requires you to invest a substantial amount of money in a new business venture or a pre-existing bona fide one with the intention of generating a profit that can not only provide for your family but can also make a significant contribution to the economy of the United States. Please note the term “substantial amount” varies on a case by case basis. However, no specific number of jobs to be created or maintained by the company you invest in have been mentioned. The other requirements for an E-2 visa include the following:
You should be in possession of the funds that you invest in the business;
The source of funds should be legitimate; and
You must hold a managerial position in the enterprise and develop and direct the business.
The requirements for an EB-5 visa are quite different from those of the E-2 visa. Depending on the location of the business, an EB-5 visa requires you to invest a minimum of $500,000 or $1,000,000. This investment should create or preserve at least 10 jobs for U.S. citizens within 2 years.
The benefits of the E-2 temporary investment visas are limited to nationals of those countries that fall under the agreement of Treaty to Commerce and Navigation with the U.S. If no treaty exists between the United States and a certain country, then a national from that country will not be granted an E-2 visa. For example, since India and China do not fall under this agreement, the respective nationals cannot apply for E-2 visas.
However, this does not apply for an EB-5 visa applicant.
Dependent Family Members
For an E-2 visa applicant, the investor’s spouse may receive an E-2 visa and a work permit as well in the United States. Unmarried children (under the age of 21 years) will also receive E-2 visas. However, as soon as the children turn 21, they would either be required to leave the U.S. or apply for a temporary student visa.
Once the applicant is granted an EB-5 investor visa, his/her spouse along with their unmarried, minor children (under the age of 21 years) will also be provided with green cards.
While the entire process of application and obtaining a visa usually requires a substantial amount of time, the application for an E-2 investment visa takes approximately a month or so to be processed.
The EB-5 investment visa approval procedure usually involves a number of steps which are critically examined by UCIS. These include evaluation of sources of funds, filing the I-526 applications and so on. Therefore, the entire duration of processing of the application may take up to a 16 months or more depending on the specifics of the case.
While the entire process of application and approval of the EB-5 and E-2 visas are quite complex, determining which fits your specific needs is key. The legal expenses involved with an EB-5 visa application procedure is typically higher than that of E-2. It is important to understand the steps involved with these to make an informed decision about the type of visa you should apply for.