In short, the difference is that an E2 is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa while an EB-5 is an immigrant (permanent) visa. That is one reason why the capital requirement for the EB-5 is initially much higher.
However, the E2 is renewable in 5-year intervals so you will be able to extend your stay as long as you continue to meet the requirements and some families have happily lived in the U.S. for 30 years or more on E2 visas.
Each visa attempts to facilitate foreign investment in the US, but each does so in a different way. The E2 is a treaty investor visa, meaning that it will only apply to investors who are nationals of a country such as Grenada, which offers citizenship by investment for approximately US$250,000 for successful applicants, that has signed a relevant treaty with the US.
- Investment of capital (Min. US$900,000 from 21st November 2019)
- In a new commercial enterprise
- That creates and maintains at least 10 jobs
- National of a country with a relevant treaty with the US
- Invest a substantial amount (US$100,000 general minimum)
- In a bona fide enterprise in the US
- Entering US solely to develop and direct the enterprise
The E2 visa is renewable indefinitely. In other words you, the E2 investor, and your spouse will be able to work and live in the U.S. as long as the business is still functional.
E2 visas are good for three months to five years (depending on the country of origin) and can be extended for additional two-year periods of time. There is no limit to the number of times someone may extend their stay in the U.S., but the visa holder has to always prove intent to leave the U.S. upon expiration of the visa. The visa holder will have permission to only work “in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.”
Grenada passport holders are issued E2 visas for 5 years at a time. French citizens have to renew very 15 months so Grenada holds
What about my spouse?
Good news for your spouse! If you get an E2 visa and your spouse get a E2 derivative visa, he or she may apply for a work permit. Once that work permit is granted, your spouse is not limited in terms of where he/she works.
Can my children join me on an E2 Visa?
Yes! Your children under the age of 21 can come to the US with you. However, once your children turn 21 or get married, they will need to change status or return to the country of origin. A common change of status is to an F-1 visa (student visa). After school is over, the child will need to change status again or return to the country of origin. If you plan on bringing your children, please consider working out an immigration plan for them. Because of the rules surrounding E2 visas, there are heart-breaking stories of kids who moved to the US at 6 months old and now at 24 need to return to the country of origin. Do not let this happen to your child. Speak to Citizens International’s immigration attorney based in California about how to plan for your children’s future.
What if I want to start an E2 business with another person?
There are a few requirements for business partners when filing for an E2 visa. You must be able to show control and a substantial investment for the partner who is applying for the E2 visa. Generally, this is done by having the E2 investor own 51% of the business.
I’m a dual national. How do I “pick” a nationality for purposes of the E2?
This can be a sticky situation. Generally speaking, the consulate, when reviewing your packet, will look to the country most closely associated to your dealings with the E2 process. This is definitely something to discuss with an attorney.
I’m interested in buying an existing business in the US. Can I still qualify for an E2 Visa?
Yes! You can get an E2 visa for starting a new business or buying an existing business. Although new and existing businesses are both acceptable, how you show that you meet the E2 visa requirements is a bit different. For example, you may need a business valuation expert letter when showing that you have “substantially invested” in a new business, since there is no way to prove how much it costs to run the new business. In an existing business, you won’t need that. You should have documents from the previous owners showing the expenses and profits of the business.
I’m a free-lancer and I’d like to work from the US. However, all I really need is a computer and reliable internet. Can I get an E2 visa?
Probably not. In order to qualify for an E2 Visa, you need to show a substantial investment. Even though you can spend $3,000 and get everything you need to run the business, this is not the type of thing the adjudicators are looking for in an E2 applicant. They want to see that you will be growing the business and that the business is not marginal. In addition, they want to see that you have commercial space to run the business. In many cases, they will be looking for a lease agreement for commercial space.
I’m interested in US real estate. Can I buy a property and get an E2 visa?
Maybe. It really depends on your intentions. Are you planning on buying a single house or condo? This will likely not pass muster. Are you guying two houses or condos? Again, this may not be enough to pass the “marginality” requirement and you may not be able to show an active, operating commercial enterprise. But, are you interested in buying an apartment building with many units? You may have a shot at an E2 visa. As with all types of businesses, you’re going to need to show that this business is not marginal, that it is a real and operating enterprise and that you can make more than just enough for you and your family.
How long will the E2 via process take?
It depends. When you decide to move forward with an E2 visa, we will send you a checklist. This list will have all of the documents you’ll need to provide in order to move forward. Sometimes people get the information to us in a couple of weeks. Sometimes it takes a couple of months. Once we have the information and submit the information to the Consulate, the timeline depends upon that office. Some offices can review applications and set interviews within a couple of weeks. Sometimes it takes a few months. Once you have the interview and are approved, you will have your visa in your passport typically within 5 business days.
I am in the US on an E2 visa. How do I apply for a green card?
The E2 visa will never “turn into” a green card, and the E2 visa doesn’t help you get a green card. That said, you may always change your status while legally in the US. Some things to consider: do you have any US citizen or US green card holder relatives? Is your spouse eligible for a green card? Are your children eligible for green cards? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you may have a chance to get a green card. One word of warning — the E2 doesn’t allow the intent of staying in the US. You must intend on returning to your country of origin. So, if you are considering trying for a green card, you should speak with a lawyer first.