The difference between the USA's EB-5 & E-2 visas
22 August 2019
The USA's EB-5 and E-2 visas are two of the most popular residency permits for entrepreneurs looking to invest in, and emigrate to, the land of opportunity.
What's the difference between the EB-5 and E-2 visas?
The permits have two fundamental differences:
- The EB-5 is an immigrant visa, granting the holder permanent residency in the USA.
- The E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, granting the holder temporary residency in the USA for up to 5 years at a time (depending on the country of citizenship of the E-2 national).
The EB-5 provides a level of certainty that many entrepreneurs (and their families) find attractive, but to qualify investors must make a minimum investment of US$500,000. The USCIS New Regulations state after November 21, 2019, the minimum investment amount will be $900,000
E-2 visas can be renewed after the initial 5 years, if the applicants still meet the requirements. But it's important to remember that the E-2 visa is a treaty visa and to qualify, the applicant must be a citizen of a country / countries that have signed the visa treaty with the USA. The applicant may have more than one (1) citizenship.
Further, EB-5 is available for people born in any country around the world. The quota is based on country of birth, not country of citizenship hence why we are seeing long delays for clients from China. The E-2 on the other hand is based on country of citizenship.
Green cards obtained through EB-5 (and green cards obtained through any other category) subject the foreign national to U.S. taxation on worldwide income. E-2 visa holders can avoid taxation on worldwide income by reducing the number of days that they spend in the USA. International tax planning by credible and experienced professionals is essential.
Processing time of the visas
The E-2 visa processing times vary depending on the location of the American consulate that is reviewing the application but an average is typically from one week to a few weeks.
The EB-5 can take longer with an average 24 to 40 months for conditional residency visas. However, citizens from certain countries such as China are currently experiencing retrogression with wait times longer than 10 years due to the back log of visa applications. India and Vietnam have also reached the retrogression stage and subsequently their citizens are also seeing delays for filing their conditional residency visa applications.
To qualify for the E-2 visa, applicants must:
- Be a citizen of a country with a treaty with the USA
- Invest a substantial amount in a US enterprise
- Make their primary role in the USA to direct and manage the enterprise
There is no official investment amount to qualify for the E-2 visa. However, the applicant must be the primary investor in the enterprise, and most applicants should expect to invest an estimated US$150,000 plus or minus.
To qualify for the EB-5 visa, applicants must complete one of these two options:
Creation of a new US enterprise
- Invest US$1 million in a new commercial enterprise, OR
- Invest US$500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area
- Create full-time employment for at least 10 qualified US workers
Investment in a Regional Centre
- Invest US$500,000 in a Regional Centre (most popular option)
- Create full-time employment for at least 10 qualified US workers. Indirect employment is permitted.
What if your country isn't on the list of treaty countries?
The simplest way to obtain an E-2 visa if your country of citizenship isn't on the treaty list is to invest in a second citizenship in a country that is a treaty member and obtain a second citizenship
The Caribbean island of Grenada is an E-2 treaty member and grants citizenship to individuals of good character who are willing to:
- Make a US$150,000 non-refundable donation to Grenada's development fund, OR
- Purchase property in an Government-approved development worth more than US$220,000
While Grenada affords two qualifying investment paths to citizenship, applicants interested in the E-2 visa will need to create a nexus in the country and owning real estate is a critical component.
Other benefits of Grenadian Citizenship include:
- Visa-free travel to 142 countries, including China
- Children under 30 are included in the application without the need to be enrolled in school
- Parents 65+ are included in the application
- A sibling of the main applicant or spouse may be included in the application
For more information about the route to an E-2 visa via Grenada's citizenship-by-investment programme visit our solution page.
Do you have questions about the EB-5 & E-2 visas?
Simply send your questions to our team via our contact form and we'll be happy to help.