How to go from E2 treaty investor visa to green card?
The most straightforward and natural way to go from an E2 investor visa to a green card is through the EB5 investor visa program. The E2 and EB5 visa categories for investors, collectively referred to as the E2/EB5, is a two-part avenue towards obtaining permanent residence in the United States, or in other words a green card. However, as you will see below, the EB5 visa is not the only visa category an E2 investor can use to obtain a green card.
The E2 investor visa is a temporary work visa that allows a foreign citizen to invest in and work in a business in the United States. The foreign investor can bring along his or her family to live and work in the United States. The E2 investor can choose to invest in a startup, purchase a pre-existing business or a franchise.
The spouse of the E2 investor is employment authorized incident to status and optionally can apply for work authorization and engage in any type of employment in the United States. The children of the E2 investor can attend any private or public schools, universities and colleges.
If the business is successful, the E2 visa can be renewed indefinitely. However, the E2 investor visa does not automatically lead to a green card.
But this is not a very important aspect because all non-immigrant visas do not lead to green cards, including B1/B2, J1, F1, L-1, H-1B, H-2B, O-1, TN visa, E-1 visa, E-3 visa and others. This means that once an investor is in the United States on an E2 visa he or she must obtain another visa (an immigrant visa) that leads to a green card.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers
The E2 visa is available to a wide range of investors and entrepreneurs worldwide but there are certain limitations as to who can qualify for an E2 visa. In order to be eligible for an E2 visa, the foreign investor or entrepreneur must meet the following key requirements.
- The investor or entrepreneur must be a citizen of one of the E2 visa countries. Currently there are 81 countries that qualify for an E2 visa. These countries are Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and United Kingdom. For the most up-to-date list of countries please click here.
- The investor or entrepreneur must invest approximately $100,000 in a business in the United States. The investment amount is only a point of reference but it is not required to invest $100,000 in order to qualify for an E2 visa. In fact, the investment amount can be higher or lower depending on the type of business activity the company is engaging in. Certain businesses such as consulting businesses require little capital and can be started with less than $100,000 and successfully qualify for E2 visas. For an extensive discussion about the E2 investment amount please click here.
- The investor or entrepreneur must own at least 50 percent of the business or possess operational control. The E2 investor must be in a position to develop and direct the business and must intend to enter the United States to actively manage the business. For more information on E2 requirements and documentation, please visit our E2 Visa article.
After obtaining and moving to the United States on an E2 visa, the next step can be to transition from a temporary E visa to a green card and for those interested, there are couple of options including the EB5 program we briefly discussed above and the EB2 National Interest Waiver.
Options to go from E2 investor visa to green card
The immigrant visa options to go from E2 treaty investor visa to green card are:
- EB5 Investor Visa. Foreign investors can go from the E2 treaty investor visa to green card by making an investment under the EB5 investor visa program which is an immigrant visa.
To qualify for the EB5 investor visa and change status from E2 to EB5 the foreign investor must make an investment of minimum $800,000 or $1,050,000 in a US business in a rural area or urban area, respectively, that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. For troubled businesses, the EB5 investor must simply maintain the number of employees that previously worked there.
In practice, the E2 investor can make an additional investment into the E2 business to qualify for the EB5 and the amount of the initial investment to get the E2 visa, and all additional capital invested into the business may count toward the minimum investment amount to get an EB5 visa. In addition, the jobs created through the initial E2 investment may count toward the 10 jobs required for the EB5 investor visa.
For example, if you invest $100,000 into an E2 business that provides cleaning and maintenance services and after you obtain the E2 visa you decide to expand your business from rural Miami to other parts of Florida and Georgia and apply for an EB5, the amount of your initial investment counts towards the EB5 investment requirement. The minimum investment in rural area for EB5 visa is $800,000. This means that you now need to invest an additional $700,000 into your E2 business in order to be able to qualify for an EB5 visa.
Similarly, if your E2 business has already hired 3 employees, you only need to hire an additional 7 employees to obtain the green card through EB5. You do not need to hire the additional employees at the time you submit the EB-5 visa application. Moreover, under the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022, you can apply for adjustment of status and work authorization at the time of filing the EB-5 visa petition.
In other words, you can apply for the EB5 investor green card with the same business you applied for the E2 visa.
- EB1 Visa. The EB1 immigrant visa is available to a foreign individual who 1) possesses extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics, education or business, 2) is an outstanding professor or researcher or 3) is multinational manager or executive.
The EB1 visa category for multinational manager or executive can be an effective route for those foreign investors who have worked for the foreign business entity in a managerial or executive position for at least 1 year in the prior 3 years.
In addition, the EB1 visa category for individuals who possess extraordinary ability can be a potential route to green card.
- EB2 National Interest Waiver. If the foreign investor is interested in going from an E2 treaty investor visa to a green card, the EB2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) can be an option.
The EB2 NIW is available to foreign individuals who have exceptional ability and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the country. Advanced degree professionals with exceptional abilities are generally eligible.
- Employer-sponsored green card. Another way to go from an E2 treaty investor visa to a green card is to have a company sponsor the foreign investor or his or her spouse for a green card.
To get a green card through a company sponsorship, a US employer must file a PERM Labor Certification with the US Department of Labor (DOL). Once the PERM Labor Certification is approved then the foreign investor can qualify for a green card through the employment. Keep in mind that the PERM Labor Certification requires the US employer to go through an extensive recruitment process to ensure that no U.S. workers are available for the sponsored position.
- Family-sponsored green card. Investors can be sponsored by family or close relatives who are US citizens or green card holders.
Malescu Law can assist
Transitioning from an E2 treaty investor visa to a green card is a complex process with many intricacies. Hiring an experienced business immigration attorney can save time and money as you work for a green card through your company.
Our business immigration attorneys in Miami, Florida USA assist investors and entrepreneurs to transition from E2 treaty investor visa to green card related services.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers