The United States offers three main types of investor visas. While the EB-5 is the most prominent, E-1 and E-2 visas provide legal status to non-citizens as well.
EB-5 Investor Visas
Entrepreneurs who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the U.S. and who plan to create or preserve 10 or more permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers are eligible to apply for legal permanent residence (a green card) through an EB-5 investor visa. A commercial enterprise is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a for-profit entity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business, including a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a holding company, a joint venture, a corporation, or any publicly or privately owned business trust or entity.
In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, the entrepreneur is required to invest a minimum of $500,000 in a targeted employment area, which is generally a rural or high unemployment area, or $1 million anywhere in the United States. For any petition received by USCIS after November 21, 2019, these amounts were increased to $900,000 in a targeted employment area and $1.8 million anywhere else, but the November 21, 2019 Final Rule was vacated on June 22, 2021 and previous rules, including the lower investment minimums, were reinstated. It is possible that the new rules will be reintroduced at a later time. The investment capital cannot be borrowed. Once this type of investment is made, the USCIS office grants conditional permanent residence to the individual.
The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may be included in the EB-5 investor visa petition. It is important to note that the investor and his or her dependents do not count towards the 10 full-time employees even if they do work at the enterprise of the investor.
Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visas
The EB-5 investor visa is an immigrant visa, while the E-1 and E-2 treaty trader and investor visas are non-immigrant visas.
E-1 Treaty Traders Visas
The E-1 treaty traders visa allows a national of a treaty county, meaning a country with which the U.S. has an existing trade treaty of commerce and navigation, to enter to live and work in the U.S. as long as the visa holder engages in substantial international trade. The E-1 visa holder can trade in goods, services, or technology, provided that the principal trade is primarily between the United States and the treaty country. According to the USCIS, substantial trade simply refers to the continuous flow of sizable international trade items, involving numerous transactions over time. Principal trade requires that over 50 percent of the total volume of international trade is between the U.S. and the trader’s treaty nation.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
Intent to Leave
An E-1 or E-2 non-immigrant may obtain an unlimited number of extensions, but they must always intend to leave the U.S. when their status ends or is terminated.
The E-2 treaty investor visa allows a person to enter and work in the United States at a business in which a substantial cash investment has been made by the visa holder or other citizens of his or her country of origin, provided that this country maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, which means it is temporary. The authorization for this type of visa comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). An E-2 visa holder is restricted to working only for the employer or business that sponsored him or her. Initially, a visa term can be up to two years with unlimited extensions.
The investor visas listed above are only a few of those that are available in total. To determine your eligibility for a specific type of investor visa, it is best to contact an immigration lawyer in your area who can assess the merits of your case and inform you of your rights and options.