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

A business investment can be one of the most reliable ways for an international entrepreneur to secure a U.S. visa. While there are a number of options, people frequently have questions about two paths: the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and the E-2 Treaty Investor classification.

To help you better understand the two options, here is a brief overview of some of their key requirements.

How much do I have to invest?

In order to qualify for the EB-5 program, a businessperson needs to invest at least $900,000 into a commercial enterprise in the United States. (This amount recently increased – up from $500,000 previously.) Others may need to invest a minimum of $1.8 million, depending on where the project is located.

The E-2 is often significantly cheaper. An applicant has to invest a “substantial amount of capital” into a commercial business, but there is no predetermined minimum like with the EB-5. Instead, it depends on the size and scale of the enterprise.

Do I need to create jobs?

This is similar to the investment requirements. For EB-5 hopefuls, the project they invest in must create at least 10 full-time jobs for American workers. Those seeking an E-2 have more flexibility, as it once again depends on what the business requires in order to successfully operate.

Which type of visa should I get?

The EB-5’s more stringent requirements come with a potentially more valuable reward: permanent resident status. If you meet all of the conditions, you may have a direct path to obtaining a green card for yourself and your immediate family.

The E-2 is a temporary, nonimmigrant worker visa that you have to renew every few years. In addition, the E-2 does not provide as clear of a path to permanent residency – though you can apply for a green card through other avenues, as normal.

Who is eligible?

The EB-5 program is open to just about any global investor, as long as they meet the financial requirements and maintain an active role in the commercial enterprise.

E-2 applicants face different hurdles. For one, only a foreign national from a country that has a treaty with the U.S. is eligible for this visa. The list includes Canada. In addition, you usually have to own at least 50% of the business, and must spend your time in the U.S. actively developing the project.

What else should I know?

This is a very general overview of the EB-5 and E-2 investor visas. Which option might be right for you depends on your unique situation – including your financial situation, how quickly you want to be in the United States and your long-term plans for your business. An immigration attorney can help you make sense of your best options.