For those foreign nationals looking to come to the United States, an investor visa may be an option worth considering. The most popular of these are the E-2 visa and the EB-5 visa. Each come with their own pros and cons, and anyone contemplating such a decision should carefully consider these.
Benefits of the E-2 visa:
- Allows foreign investors from all eligible countries to establish a business in the U.S. and to move here to oversee its operations.
- There is no specific minimum level of investment required. The regulations state only that the investment must be sufficient to develop a successful and profitable business.
- The E-2 investor’s spouse and minor children (under age 21) will be issued E-2 dependent visas.
Negatives of the E-2 visa:
- Benefits are limited only to those individuals whose countries are a part of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the United States. Notably, citizens of Brazil, Russia, India and China are currently ineligible for the E-2 visa.
- E-2 visa must be regularly renewed, and such renewals are generally denied if the business is struggling financially.
- If their business fails, E-2 visa holders must leave the U.S. immediately.
- Children no longer qualify for dependent visas when they turn 21, and they must then qualify and apply for a different visa, such as a Student visa, if they wish to remain lawfully in the country.
- The E-2 visa is considered a “non-immigrant” visa, and does not lead to permanent residence here.
Benefits of the EB-5 visa:
- The investor can move here and reside in any State of his or her choice.
- Unlike E-2 investors, EB-5 investors do not have to leave the U.S. at regular intervals.
- EB-5 investors, and their family members, enjoy the benefits of conditional permanent residence in the U.S.
Negatives of the EB-5 visa:
- Visa holders must establish residence in the U.S., and they must be present in the U.S. for at least 180 days per year.
- The minimum investment requirement for this visa is statutory and is always higher than required for the E-2 visa. A minimum investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 is currently required to obtain any EB-5 visa.
The EB-5 is a good proposition for a person applying who can provide evidence of the source of the funds and can establish a comprehensive business plan. For those with more limited resources, or those unwilling to risk such large amounts of capital, E-2 visa is an alternative option.
Keep in mind that the main purpose of these visas is to help improve the U.S.economy and provide incentive for business creation and new job growth. Therefore “passive” investments like real-estate development generally do not create eligibility. If you have any questions about which of these visas may be right for you, consult with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the matter.
Winograd and Schwartz Attorneys at Law, PC