Learn more about the routes E-2 visa investors can take to obtain a U.S. Green Card..
- Investing More Capital
- Invest in a Regional Center Project
- Family Member or Employer Sponsorship
- The National Interest Waiver
What is an E2 Visa?
The E2 visa—often referred to as the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa—is a non-immigrant visa available to nationals of countries that hold a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. E2 investors who make a substantial investment in a U.S. business can legally live and work in the nation. Furthermore, there is no limit on the number of visa extensions an E2 investor can receive.
The E2 immigrant visa does not, by itself, lead to a permanent residence visa, also known as a lawful permanent residency Green Card. In fact, E2 investors must maintain an intent to leave the U.S. upon visa expiration. Despite this, making an E2 visa to Green Card transition is possible. While the E2 visa offers its own variety of benefits, certain restrictions also apply. By making the E2 visa to Green Card transition, foreign nationals are granted privileges that are unavailable with the E2 visa.
Benefits of Using Your E2 Visa to Get a Green Card
A U.S. permanent residence Green Card grants permanent residence to the holder and allows the holder to live and work anywhere in the United States; it grants many of the same benefits as citizenship. A permanent residence Green Card can also open the door to obtaining U.S. citizenship for the holder after five years of permanent residence. Switching from an E2 immigrant visa to a Green Card grants a wide variety of other benefits, such as the ability to sponsor other family members for a Green Card, travel more easily to and from the United States, access to social security benefits, and take on expanded job opportunities.
As mentioned previously, E2 investors are subject to certain restrictions; they are only qualified to work within their investment enterprise. E2 investors can overcome this restriction by obtaining permanent residence Green Cards. Furthermore, Green Card holders are not required to maintain an intent to leave, nor is the validity of a Green Card tied to the condition of a business.
A Green Card is a far more permanent and reliable way to reside in the United States.
How Do I Turn My E2 Visa into a Green Card?
There are multiple ways to make the E2 visa to Green Card transition: investing more capital and obtaining an EB-5 visa, family member or employer sponsorship, or the National Interest Waiver.
It is highly recommended for foreign nationals to consult an immigration attorney while navigating this Green Card process.
Investing More Capital: The EB-5 Program
One of the advantages of the E2 immigrant visa is the absence of a minimum investment amount. Still, it is widely recommended to go no lower than $100,000, and the investment must be considered substantial by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One method for E2 investors to transition to a permanent residence Green Card is by investing more money into their business, thus becoming qualified for an EB-5 Green Card.
The EB-5 investment program offers foreign nationals a direct path to obtaining a U.S. Green Card. E2 investors planning on using this route to obtain a Green Card must learn about the EB-5 program’s requirements for investors.
EB-5 investors must create at least 10 full-time positions. Furthermore, the EB-5 program requires a minimum of $800,000 in investment capital. E-2 investors would have to invest more capital until their total invested funds reached $800,000.
Investing in a Regional Center Project
Rather than investing money into one’s own company, E2 investors also have the option of investing in an EB-5 regional center project while continuing to operate the E2 enterprise. A regional center project is typically structured as a limited partnership, with investors serving as limited partners. Moreover, these projects generally pool investment capital from many investors, making it much easier to fulfill the job creation requirement.
While regional center projects also require the creation of at least 10 job positions for U.S. workers, they can include indirect and induced jobs, which are calculated through econometric modeling, towards this total as well. This makes it much easier to fulfill the job creation requirement.
Family Member or Employer Sponsorship
E2 investors can also transition to a lawful permanent residence Green Card if they are offered a job by a U.S.-based employer. The employer must prove that no native U.S. workers are capable of filling the position.
Alternatively, E2 investors can be sponsored by an immediate family member for a family-based Green Card. Spouses, siblings, parents, and children of U.S. citizens or Green Card holders are eligible for family sponsorship.
The National Interest Waiver
Investors with extraordinary ability hoping to transition to a lawful permanent residence Green Card can also consider doing so through the EB-2 National Interest Waiver. The National Interest Waiver asks for the employer sponsorship and labor certification criteria to be waived, as the investor’s extraordinary ability would benefit the U.S. economy. With an approved National Interest Waiver, investors can obtain a Green Card without employer sponsorship. As a result, there has been increased interest in the National Interest Waiver in recent years.
To qualify for a Gren Card with the National Interest Waiver, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Demonstrate that the proposed business has substantial merit and national importance;
- Possess the applicable skills to ensure business success;
- Demonstrate why it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the EB-2 immigrant visa category and not require family or employer sponsorship. The National Interest Waiver is only granted to individuals with extraordinary ability or advanced degrees in fields such as science, the arts, and business.
How Long Does it Take to Turn My E2 Immigrant Visa into a Green Card?
Using the EB-5 program to obtain a Green Card will take several years. Applicants first submit an I-526 petition, which has a filing fee of $3,675, and are typically eligible for a temporary, two-year Green Card upon approval. The processing time for the I-526 petition can take two years or more, with applicants from high-demand countries often waiting longer due to Green Card backlogs.
Foreign nationals can then submit Form I-829—with a $3,750 filing fee—at the end of the two-year period, which grants a permanent residence Green Card upon approval. The investor can renew the Green Card every 10 years to remain a permanent resident.
Investors will need to provide exhaustive personal and financial documentation in the EB-5 application Green Card process. This includes but is not limited to proof the investment has been made into a qualifying EB-5 project, documentation outlining the source of funds, evidence that the capital was obtained legally, tax statements, passport scans, birth certificates, and marriage certificates.
Changing from an E2 Visa to Green Card
A permanent resident status Green Card provides several benefits that an E2 immigrant visa does not, such as the ability to work anywhere in the United States and eventually pursue citizenship. E2 investors hoping to transition to a permanent resident Green Card have a variety of ways to do so, such as with employer or family sponsorship, the National Interest Waiver, or through the EB-5 program.
Transitioning from an E2 visa to Green Card with the EB-5 program can be the most direct and low-risk option. As a leader in the EB-5 investment field, EB5 Affiliate Network (EB5AN) has helped thousands of investors begin the EB-5 process. E-2 investors interested in transitioning to the EB-5 program to become a permanent resident can take the next step by booking a free consultation with EB5AN. Permanent resident status in the United States will certainly be worth the investment. Many foreign nationals who have obtained lawful permanent residency are now reaping the benefits of the United States’ thriving economy, political stability, and diverse culture.