The Key Differences Between an E-2 Investor Visa and EB-5 Investor Visa

Something that the U.S. E-2 investor visa and the EB-5 investor visa have in common is that the federal government provides foreign nationals the opportunity to legally immigrate and work in the U.S.


However, they are completely different when it comes to their individual requirements and the more specific structure upon which applicants and their families are required to operate.


EB-5 Visa “inmigrant”

The EB-5 immigrant investor visa program is a program that will allow any foreign national the opportunity to acquire a U.S. green card in exchange for either investing $1,800,000 or $500,000 into a new commercial enterprise (NCE) or failing business in the U.S. The EB-5 investment requirement will typically be at least $900,000 and for this reduced amount, it must be invested in targeted employment areas (TEAs) that are determined by the government to have a certain reduced level of income or be in need of economic investment.


Basically, the requirements of an EB-5 visa are that an EB-5 investor invest either the $900,000 or $1,800,000 in a U.S. qualifying business, prove beyond a preponderance of the evidence that the source of this EB-5 capital is legitimate, and confirm with documentation that as a direct result of their investments at least 10 full-time jobs shall be created for U.S. citizens or authorized workers for a minimum period of two years.


The greatest challenges to obtaining an EB-5 visa are that only 10,000 EB-5 visas are authorized by the U.S. government each year. An EB-5 investor shall also have to pay their immigration attorney legal fees, government filing fees, translation fees, and the overall process of applying and being accepted is typically a slow but secure process.


On the bright side, the EB-5 visa program provides a multitude of advantages. It will permit your immediate family members to be admissible into the U.S. just like you, and they will be eligible to become green card holders as well. Your children and spouse will be free to work or attend school and take advantage of in-state discounted tuition rates and the country’s infrastructure.


In principle, being accepted for the EB-5 visa means that you and your family shall immediately become conditional permanent residents of the U.S. and be eligible for U.S. citizenship within 5 years if all obligations are met. It’s also not necessary for an EB-5 investor to be responsible for the management of the EB-5 business they are investing in or to even speak English, and EB-5 investors are permitted to travel in and out of the U.S at their convenience.



E-2 Visa – “non-inmigrant”

The E-2 investor visa, or E-2 nonimmigrant investor visa permits a national of a treaty country (a country that the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with, or that the U.S. maintains a qualifying international agreement, or that has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation) to be admitted to the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. The word “substantial” is not actually defined, however, we have seen E-2 investors getting visas approved with as little as $75,000 and as much as millions of dollars. There is not a required amount. Certain employees and immediate family members of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.


The investment company may not be “marginal,” or does not have the present or future capacity to produce more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the E-2 investor and their family. Depending on the circumstances, a new company might not be considered marginal even if it lacks the current capacity to generate such income. In these cases, however, the company should have the capacity to produce such income within five years from the date that the E-2 investor’s E-2 classification commences.


If the principal employer is not an individual, it needs be a company at least 50% owned by persons in the U.S. who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must either: (a) be maintaining nonimmigrant E-2 investor status or (b) if the owners are not in the U.S., they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant E-2 investors.


E-2 investors and employees shall be allowed to stay a maximum initial stay of two years. Extensions can be requested every 2 years and can also be approved for up 5 years. There is no limit currently to the amount of times an extension is requested. All E-2 investors, however, must maintain an intention to leave the U.S. when their status expires or is expired.


An E-2 investor who travels abroad may generally be approved, if they are determined admissible by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), an automatic two-year period of readmission when coming back to the U.S.


Essentially, the E-2 investor visa is a better short-term visa, and the EB-5 investor visa is a better long-term one. Depending on every family’s priorities, the EB-5 investor visa is an immediate path to the stability of a permanent residency and one can use any other visa as a bridge to get there generally. However, an EB-5 visa also provides significant advantages that provides families more long-term security because of its speedy and direct path to U.S. citizenship for the investors and his/her beneficiaries. Furthermore, many of our clients have used their E-2 investor visa as a bridge to then apply for an EB-5 investor immigrant visa in order to obtain their residencies and citizenships.



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