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What are the differences between the EB-5 and E-2 investor visa programs?

Immigrant business owners hold a storied place in the American economy – and U.S. immigration laws carve out pathways for those who want to come to the United States, invest money, and hire American workers.

EB-5 and E-2 visas are the two most common visas for investors and corporations and carry unique benefits and requirements. Deciding factors for these visas include the amount of investment and the country of origin of the investor.

EB-5 – Substantial Investment, Pathway to Green Card

As of November 21st, the EB-5 visa program saw an overhaul that nearly doubled the required minimum investment. Foreign nationals who hope to apply for the visa must invest a minimum of $900,000 in a targeted employment area (TEA) – defined as a rural area or area with high unemployment rate, or $1.8 million in non-TEA designated areas.

The business is subject to job creation requirements – an investor shows they will invest the capital necessary to create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees. If the investor is taking over a business, they must show the number of employees will be maintained for at least two years.

EB-5 holders can petition for a green card for themselves, their spouse, and dependent children under the age of 21, and is open to investors from any country.

E-2 – Smaller Investment Required, a Nonimmigrant Visa for Investors from Treaty Countries

E-2 visas require a much lower threshold for investment, and are only available to citizens of E visa treaty countries. While E-2 visas are nonimmigrant visas – they do not provide a pathway to permanent resident status in the United States – the visa status can be extended in perpetuity for as long as the business is in operation in the United States.

Investors can open any type of business using an E-2 visa and the investment criteria is more flexible. E-2 investors must show they have invested in the infrastructure their business needs to run, including the physical space, insurance, licensure, and equipment. Investors should also show they can support employees and have a business plan for sustained operations. E-2 businesses can hire foreign workers if they hold visas from the treaty country of the E-2 investor.

For investors from treaty countries, the E-2 visa can be a steppingstone to the EB-5 program. Once an investor reaches the investment threshold for the EB-5 Investor Visa, they can apply using their existing business and investment.

For more information on the E-2 Investor Visa Program, download our Investor Visa Guide. We are happy to offer complimentary consultations if you are considering investment on an E Visa, contact us today.