E-2 investor visa is an attractive option for foreign nationals to invest in and work for a business in the United States. While obtaining an E-2 investor visa does not directly grant applicants U.S. Permanent Residency (Green Card), there are some great ways to get from an E2 visa to a green card.
E-2 investors are nonetheless able to renew their visas indefinitely if their business continues to function successfully. The foreign country and U.S. must also remain in treaty agreement. There are several options that allow an E-2 investor to acquire a U.S. Green Card down the line.
Brief E-2 Visa Background:
The E-2 investor visa is an option that provides investors the chance to work for a U.S. business in the United States. E-2 recipients must have given a significant amount of capital to the U.S. business and work solely for the E-2 visa sponsor.
The visa is valid for five years, but as stated above, it can be renewed for an indefinite amount of time if it meets specific regulations. Applicants should keep in mind that even though the E-2 is valid for five years, the I-94 is only valid for two years. Applicants must seek an I-94 extension or they will be considered out of status.
General E-2 Visa Requirements:
- The applicant must be a citizen of a U.S. treaty country
- The applicant continues to invest a substantial amount of capital in the U.S. business.
- The applicant must have the intention to enter the United States to further develop the business. This can be proven by possessing 50% ownership of the business or holding authority through a management position. Passive investments such as owning stock or real-estate are not valid substitutes.
E-2 investors are able to be accompanied by spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age. If approved, spouses and unmarried children under 21 will have the same visa duration as the primary visa holder. Qualified E-2 dependents are also able to obtain Employment Authorization Documents which allows them to legally work in the United States.
For more information on E-2 qualifications and documentation, please visit our Investor Visa article.
E-2 Visa to Green Card:
The E-2 investor visa does not automatically lead to a green card. However, if the E-2 applicant is seeking permanent residency it is best instead to obtain an EB-2 National Interest Waiver or participate in the EB-5 Investor Program. These the possible options for getting from an E2 visa to a green card:
1. EB-5 Green Card: You may obtain a green card while under EB-5 program if you can make an investment of $1 million (or $500,000 in a rural area or area of high unemployment) in a business that creates a certain number of jobs in the US (usually more than 10 positions). The rules for these positions area as follows:
- The jobs must be created directly by your enterprise rather than an indirect result of your enterprise. Your enterprise must be the employer of these employees. This only applies to enterprises not located in regional centers (designated organization that sponsors EB-5 projects).
- The positions must be considered full-time.
- If the business that you are investing into is considered a “troubled business” (i.e. a business that has seen a net loss over the previous two years), then you simply need to maintain the number of employees that previously worked there for the next two years.
2. Sponsorship by a family member: You may obtain a green card if you have close relatives in the United States. Your relatives may sponsor you and file a petition on your behalf in this case.
3. Sponsorship by a US employer: If you can find an employer who is willing to file a PERM Labor Certification form with the Department of Labor, then you may qualify for a green card through the employment-based immigration process. Keep in mind that the PERM requires your employer to go through an extensive recruitment process to ensure that no U.S. workers are available for your position.
If you are an “alien of exceptional ability,” have an advanced degree or an equivalent level of experience, and can show that your services will greatly benefit the United States, then you may file a National Interest Waiver (NIW) and skip applying for PERM Labor Certification.
In order to qualify for an NIW, you must demonstrate three things:
- That your enterprise will contribute significantly to the U.S. society, economy, health, education, technology, science, or culture.
- That you, the beneficiary, are capable of developing the enterprise through your experience, past successes, education, capital, or business plan.
- That the U.S. would stand to benefit by waiving the PERM requirement rather than enforcing it.
4. EB-1 Green Card: you are an “alien of extraordinary ability”, “outstanding researcher or professor”, or a “multinational manager or executive.” The third option may be more relevant for several foreign investors if they have worked for the foreign business entity in a managerial position before coming to the U.S.
To qualify, you must have been working for the multinational company for at least one continuous year in the three years leading up to filing for the EB-1. Your position must also be legitimate:
- Managers must oversee the day-to-day tasks of other workers and have the ability to hire and fire workers.
- Executives must be able to make large decisions for the company without much supervision as well as oversee the managerial aspect of the company.
How Our Immigration Attorneys Can Help
Going from an E-2 visa to a green card can be a delicate and difficult process. When a significant amount of money is at stake, you don’t want to attempt the process alone. Hiring an experienced immigration attorney can save you both time and money as you strive for a green card through your enterprise.
Here at SGM Law Group, our dedicated E2 and green card attorneys have been helping entrepreneurs and investors alike make the transition from an E2 visa to a green card for many successful years. To take advantage of their help and expertise, you can fill out our contact form and schedule a consultation today.