E-2 and EB-5 are two different types of visas available for foreign nationals who want to invest in the United States. The two programs have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Investors should choose which program to participate in depending on their unique personal circumstances and immigration goals.
The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows individuals from certain treaty countries to enter the U.S. to invest in and operate a business. The E-2 visa requires a significant investment in a U.S. business, but there is no set minimum investment amount. It is typically recommended that the amount of capital invested be higher than $150,000. The investor must also own at least 50% of the U.S. business and must intend to return to their home country when their E-2 status ends.
The EB-5 program grants permanent residency to foreign investors who invest a minimum of $800,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. and create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. persons. The EB-5 program allows the investor and their family members including spouse and children under the age of 21 to receive U.S. Green Cards. The $800,000 investment is returned to the investor after approximately five years from the initial date of investment.
EB-5 or E-2?
Depending on the investment and immigration goals of the investor, one program may be more advantageous than the other.
The E-2 program allows investors to enter the United States relatively quickly and provides a more flexible investment requirement. There is no set minimum investment amount for the E-2 visa and therefore the investment may be lower than the prescribed amount of capital required for the EB-5 program. The E-2 visa also allows investors to bring their families to the United States and renew their status indefinitely, as long as they continue to meet the requirements of the program. That said, the E-2 program is a non-immigrant visa meaning that it does not lead to a Green Card and a permanent path to obtaining citizenship.
A disadvantage of the E-2 visa is that it is only available to nationals of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation). Therefore, the E-2 visa is not open to all nationalities. Obtaining another nationality to be able to qualify for the E-2 visa can itself be a lengthy and expensive process. In contrast, the EB-5 program is open to all nationalities and does not require the country of citizenship of the investor to have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.
In comparison to E-2, the EB-5 program offers the advantage of permanent residency in the United States for the investor and their family members. This means that they can live, work, and study in the United States indefinitely and eventually become eligible for U.S. citizenship. Additionally, the EB-5 program has no requirement for active management of the business, which may be beneficial for passive investors who do not want to be involved in day-to-day business operations.
Most families wishing to immigrate to the United States are motivated by the desire to build a stable and secure future for themselves and their children. They want their children to attend schools in the U.S. and receive a high quality education. Upon graduation, their children will then have the option to find exceptional career opportunities given their permanent resident status. With this motivation in mind, the EB-5 program is a more viable option given that it leads to permanent residency in the United States and allows the family to remain in the United States indefinitely.