EB-5 vs. E-2: Which Is Right for Your Situation?
When it comes to investor visas, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Much will depend on how much capital you have available, your country of origin, and whether you are married and have children under the age of 21. Some investors can make a choice regarding which visa to pursue, while others may find they are eligible for one but not the other. There is also the vital question of permanent residency, as applicants under the EB-5 program are eligible for a green card once they have fulfilled their obligations and requirements under the EB-5 program. The E-2 visa is not a direct path to a green card.
EB-5 vs. E-2 Capital Considerations
Sometimes, the EB-5 vs. E-2 decision comes down to dollars and cents. An EB-5 investor must have a minimum of $500,000 of capital to invest in a Regional Center Project. If he or she simply don’t have access to such funds, he or she will not qualify for an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 investor must also prove that their money comes from a legitimate source and via lawful means. While gifting of funds is permitted, the donor must document the source of the funds and otherwise comply with all the regulations required for investors providing their own capital, such as submitting tax returns, bank statements and similar documentation.
The capital considerations for an E-2 visa are somewhat different. There is no standard amount necessary for an E-2 investor visa, although it is often less than $500,000. How much capital you need may also depend on the consul in charge of such visas in a particular country. In one country, the consul may determine that $100,000 is sufficient, while a consul in another country may determine you need three times that much. You are permitted to contribute assets to the business besides cash, such as equipment or intellectual property.
EB-5 vs. E-2 Business Management
If an EB-5 investor is putting his or her capital into a Regional Center new commercial enterprise (NCE), that’s basically all he or she has to do. For the investor to receive his or her permanent green card, the NCE must create 10 permanent, American full-time jobs within two years. As long as that goal is reached, and the investor meets the other program eligibility requirements, the investor should receive a green card. The applicant may be an investor in an NCE and is not required to be a manager or employee of the NCE, and the investor doesn’t have to live anywhere near the EB-5 Project.
That’s not the case with the E-2 visa. These investors must have either invested, or are in the processing of investing, “substantial” capital in a U.S. enterprise, but must either own at least 50 percent of this business or have a managerial or executive position with the company. The person can only work for this company while in the United States or the organization’s parent company or subsidiary.
E-2 Treaty Investors Visa
For some individuals planning to immigrate to the U.S., there is no EB-5 vs. E-2 debate, as they do not qualify for the E-2 treaty investors visa. That’s because his or her country of origin do not have a commerce and navigation treaty with the United States, which is the basis of this visa. Two major nations lack such treaties: China and India. For those immigrating from either country, an EB-5 investor visa is the primary choice. Citizens of countries with such treaties with the U.S. can weigh their options. There are no eligibility restrictions based on nationality with an EB-5 visa.
EB-5 vs. E-2 Timeframe
When it comes to a processing timeframe, the E-2 visa has the advantage. Although processing times depend on the country, most applicants will receive visas within a few months, and sometimes within a few weeks. The EB-5 visa processing timeline is considerably longer, with an average of 14 months for I-526 petition approval and up to six months for the immigrant visa. Chinese nationals should expect a longer wait time, perhaps as much as 30 months or more.
EB-5 vs. E-2 Spouse and Family
Single immigrants need only consider which visa is best for his or her purposes. When a spouse or family is in the picture, his or her needs must also be taken into consideration. With an EB-5 visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 may live, work and go to school in the U.S. on your conditional green card. Once the green card is approved, your spouse and children under age 21 also receive permanent resident status.
The E-2 visa contains more constrictions. While the spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may accompany the E-2 investor to the U.S., family members must seek E-2 non-immigration dependent status. The spouse may file for work authorization. If the authorization is approved, there are no work restrictions. However, children aren’t allowed to receive work visas. Perhaps most crucial for the E-2 family, once a child turns 21, he or she must either leave the U.S. or file for a change in visa status. If still in school, they may receive a temporary student visa. Since young people often don’t have long-term academic or employment plans when they accompany a parent with an E-2 visa, they can find themselves in a difficult situation upon reaching 21.
When it comes to those outside the immediate family, there is no fast way for an EB-5 investor to bring in his or her parents, siblings or other relatives. However, if they chose to become U.S. citizens – for which they are eligible five years after receiving conditional permanent resident status – they can do so by petitioning these relatives. Said process may take another five years or longer. There is one quicker method for well-to-do families, and that is for the grandparents or other relatives to apply to the EB-5 program themselves.
E-2 investors may bring elderly or disabled dependents with them to the U.S., and these relatives will receive B-2 visas. They can stay in the United States as long as the E-2 investor has a valid visa. However, the parents of most E-2 investors are not their children’s dependents. Again, the parents might qualify on their own as E-2 investors – or even EB-5 investors.