The process of immigration is riddled with intricate industry jargon and application procedures. While the holistic idea of immigration can be daunting, it is important that foreign nationals understand the various programs available and what they encompass. Through an in-depth understanding of the programs, foreign nationals considering immigration will be armed with knowledge and can thereby make the most suitable decisions for their future.
The United States offers two categories of visas: immigrant and non-immigrant visas. There are multiple visa options within these two categories that differ in requirements but ultimately result in either permanent or temporary residency in the U.S. Most often the reason for relocation will determine the type of visa a foreign national would apply for.
Immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who have the intention to live and work in the U.S permanently. Foreign nationals considering permanent residency would have to submit their application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) either individually or through their employer. The U.S. has an extensive list of immigrant visa options, and currently the EB-5 immigrant investor program is one of the most flexible routes to obtaining permanent U.S. residency. Under the EB-5 program, investors must invest $900,000 into a U.S. approved project. In consideration of the investment, the investor and his immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) will receive U.S. green cards and residency.
As U.S. green card holders, the investor and qualifying dependents would be considered U.S. persons and would retain all the key rights and privileges of U.S. citizens. They would be able to access benefits such as free public education, lower university tuition costs, more job opportunities, and free government grants and scholarships. Additionally, once they have resided in the U.S. for a number of years they would be eligible to commence application for naturalization and obtain their U.S. passport. While the EB-5 immigrant investor program makes available innumerable benefits for foreign nationals, as green card holders they would not be eligible to vote in national elections and, or work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”).
The second category of visas available are issued to foreign nationals who have the intention to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis (i.e., tourism, business, medical treatment, work, study, etc). These foreign nationals are issued with non-immigrant visas. To obtain a non-immigrant visa, individuals or companies must submit their application directly to the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Similar to the immigrant visa category, the U.S. has a number of non-immigrant visa options available for foreign nationals. The E-2 treaty visa is only one of the options and is an investment visa. It requires a substantial investment into a business in the U.S. that will benefit from the capital investment. As per the visa title, application for the E-2 visa is dependent on the investor’s country of citizenship and whether it has a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S.
Under the E-2 treaty visa, investors would be able to obtain a renewable visa for themselves as well as their immediate family members (spouse and children under the age of 21 years). The investor would be able to legally work for the company they have invested in, irrespective of whether the company is pre-existing or a start-up. Furthermore, once the investor has submitted their petition and has obtained their embassy appointment, they have access to immediate residency in the U.S.
Although the E-2 treaty visa does not provide a direct route to a U.S. green card and passport, it does provide investors with the option of faster entry into the U.S. Once the investor has settled into the U.S. and decides to be a permanent resident, they can start the EB-5 application process and obtain a U.S. green card.
We are a team of U.S. licensed lawyers who specialize in both the E-2 treaty visa and the EB-5 immigrant investor visa. Operating out of our office in Dubai, we have over 10 years of experience in the immigration industry. Contact our office to better understand the rules and regulations of the immigration programs.