EB-5 vs EB-2: Pros and Cons Comparison
There’s more than one method for immigrating to the United States, and it’s likely you want to be aware of all of your options. You are obviously interested in the fastest and most efficient way to immigrate to the United States along with your family, and the best visa for one individual isn’t necessarily the top choice for another.
The EB-5 visa is relatively simple. It offers a conditional green card for a minimum investment of $900,000 into a qualifying U.S. Job creating enterprise, followed by the issuance of a permanent green card two years later if the investment has created 10 full-time, permanent American jobs. The applicant must prove that the source of the funds used for the investment is legitimate and must comply with other requirements of the EB-5 program.
The EB-2 visa is employment-based immigration visa for those with advanced degrees, exceptional ability, or someone whose employment in the United States serves the national interest. Generally, the applicant’s employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers. Here are the eligibility criteria for various subcategories of the EB-2 visa:
Advanced Degree – The job concerned must require an advanced degree, and the person must have the degree or its equivalent. The equivalent to an advanced degree may be a baccalaureate degree plus five years of progressive work experience in the field. Necessary documentation includes official academic records proving you possess the advanced degree, or official academic records proving you possess a baccalaureate degree and letters from your current or former employers stating that you have the requisite five years of post-degree progressive work experience.
Exceptional Ability – The person must prove he or she has exceptional ability in business, education or the arts and sciences. This means your ability is “significantly above” that usually found in these fields. Documentation includes at least three of the following:
- Letters documenting a minimum of 10 years’ experience in your field.
- Professional membership associations.
- License or certification to practice your profession.
- Salary or other remuneration proving the exceptional ability.
- Achievement recognition by your industry, peers, governmental or professional organizations.
- Official academic record proving you have earned a degree from an institution of higher learning relating to your field of expertise and exceptional ability.
- Other examples relating to exceptional ability.
National Interest Waiver – In this circumstance, the immigrant asks to have the labor certification waived because it is in U.S. interests. The applicant may have exceptional ability; alternatively, the applicant must show his or her employment is beneficial to the country. Applicants seeking a national interest waiver do not require an employer sponsor and can self-petition. The documentation required for the National Interest Waiver is the same as the documentation required for the Exceptional Ability waiver described above.
Treaty Investors – While this form of investor visa has more in common with the EB-5 visa than other EB-2 visas, it also has its limitations. The treaty investor option permits a citizen of a treaty country – with which the United States has a commerce and navigation treaty – to enter the United States as long as the investor invests a large amount of capital into a U.S. business in which the investor either holds a management position or owns at least half of the enterprise. Unlike the EB-5 visa, the amount of capital is not specified but is usually between $100,000 and $250,000 or more. For foreign nationals from China and India, this visa is not an option as their countries do not hold treaty country status.
EB-5 vs. EB2 and Families
With an EB-5 visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can accompany you to the U.S. when you receive your conditional Green Cards. You are all free to live, work and go to school anywhere you want in the country. You do not have to live near the EB-5 Project in which you invested, and there is no requirement to work at this enterprise. Once you receive your permanent Green Card after fulfilling the EB-5 visa investor requirements and the processing of your application by USCIS, your immediate family (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) are also eligible to receive Green Cards. You are all eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship five years after receiving conditional Green Card and moving to the United States.
Family members of EB-2 visa holders may enter the United States under E-21 immigrant status for the spouse and E-22 status for unmarried children under age 21. The spouse may apply for an Employment Authorization Document, but children cannot obtain work visas. When a child turns 21, he or she must either leave the country or change his or her visa status. While the child may receive a temporary student visa, this is not a long-term solution.
Unlike the EB-5 visa, the EB-2 visa does not necessarily lead to eligibility for a green card. The E-2 visa is generally issued for five years, with extensions possible. The timeline depends on the treaty country’s reciprocity schedule although it is often less than five years. For example, Mexico issues one-year visas and Thailand’s visas are good for only six months.
EB-5 vs. EB-2 Processing Times
The major advantage the EB-2 visa has over the EB-5 visa lies in processing times. E-2 visas are often issued in a matter of weeks, although much depends upon the country of origin. The approximate wait for a conditional Green Card through the EB-5 program is approximately 2 years, but this varies significantly by the country of origin.