What is an E-2 visa?
An E2 Investor Visa allows individuals to work in the United States based on investments they will control. This visa has to be renewed every second year, but there is no statutory limit on the number of renewals. Investment amounts must be “substantial” enough that the investor is “contributing” to the U.S. economy. These investor visas are only available to residents of “treaty nations.”
The minimum dollar amount of the investment requirement is typically $200,000, although lower amounts have been approved. The government uses an “Inverted Sliding Scale” for assessing whether or not the investment is “substantial” vis-a-vis the total cost of the enterprise in a specific industry. Invested funds must be spent exclusively on the business. Accompanying relatives are also eligible to stay, but not work, in the U.S.
For whom is the E-2 visa most suitable?
Foreign investors who do not wish to become permanent residents or citizens may prefer this option rather than the EB-5 programs. Since its short renewal periods are an added expense, additional costs will be incurred if it is renewed multiple times.
What happens when the qualifying business closes or investment terminates?
The E-2 program bestows non-immigrant status only. When the qualifying business closes or the investment terminates, the non-immigrant status granted with the E-2 visa does, as well. The foreign investor must then leave the U.S. unless some other visa category is approved.
What is an EB-5 visa?
Created by the Immigration Act of 1990, the EB-5 Visa for Immigrant Investors provides a method of obtaining residence (a “green card”) for foreign nationals investing money in the United States. Foreign investors who are funding a new or existing business, investing a minimum of $1 million, creating at least 10 jobs and playing an active role in management should opt for a traditional EB-5 visa.
Who can obtain an EB-5 visa?
An EB-5 visa is suitable for foreign nationals of all ages, professions and ambitions. Business professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs and inventors are all natural candidates for the EB-5 visa. Parents who wish to give their children the benefit of an education in the United States, as well as people seeking a better life and/or hoping to retire in America, are also prime candidates.
What is the EB-5 Regional Center Program?
An EB-5 pilot program, created by Congress in 1992 and soon christened the “EB-5 Regional Center Program,” reduces the minimum investment to $500,000 if it is directed to particular Regional Centers in economically depressed areas. Investors in this program are not required to manage the business day-to-day. For all EB-5 visa holders, if the business fulfills the job creation quota, an “unconditional” (permanent green card) is issued after the second year, allowing the visa holder and family members to reside in the U.S. permanently.
How many foreign investors can obtain visas annually under the EB-5 Regional Center Program?
An important advantage to investing in designated “Regional Centers” is that 3,000 green cards are set aside each year specifically for this program. With a specified number of program slots each year, there are neither excessive waiting periods nor “backlogs” as there are with other green card options.
Is business experience or minimum education required?
Must applicants speak English or obtain a sponsor for an E-2 or EB-5 visa?
The answer is “No” to both questions. Although speaking English is a distinct advantage, there is no language proficiency test involved, and no sponsorship requirement.
Who in the applicant’s family receives a Green Card if an investor visa application is approved?
The foreign investor’s spouse and unmarried children, less than 21 years of age at the time the application is made, receive their cards at the same time as the applicant.
Can the applicant’s children remain in school in the U.S. if the applicant leaves the U.S.?
What makes the EB-5 Regional Center Program different from the L-1 (manager transfer) program?
Like the E-2, the L-1 is a non-immigrant classification, in this case for multinational executives or managers rather than investors. A tightened review process and a large number of fraudulent applications have made L-1 visas more difficult to obtain. If one is approved, the L-1 visa holder may apply later for permanent resident status.
What are the benefits of obtaining an E-2 or EB-5 visa?
For the foreign investor who does not wish to become a permanent resident or citizen, the main benefit of the E-2 visa is that it requires less money for the initial investment. In addition, there is no additional paperwork and no other legal steps to take, as there are when using an EB-5 visa to progress toward permanent residency or citizenship. With both visas, investors benefit from having their families reside in the U.S. with them. For the EB-5 visas, there are substantial benefits, as with any other green card. Successfully participating in the EB-5 Regional Center Program, for instance, results in receipt of permanent resident status. Once one has attained this status, there is no longer any requirement to renew or reapply for any sort of visa.
How long does the process take?
Situations vary, of course, but it is possible for foreign investors to be in the U.S. within six months of starting the process in their home countries.
What are the common pitfalls in the application process?
As with any legal matter, especially one that may involve documents and procedures in two languages, having accurate information is essential. Most problems are a result of poor communication, so translation services may be necessary for some non-English speakers. If there are special circumstances, or difficulties arise during the application process, it may be wise to seek informed and experienced counsel. There are very few things as stressful as moving a family, a business and an entire life from one nation to another. Good, accurate, trustworthy advice is critically important.