Making the Transition from an E-2 Business Visa
to a Green Card
Visa E-2 allows a person who has invested in the US economy to live and work in the country. Some people might stop here because that's when their dream to move to the US comes true. However, as the business is expanding and investments are increasing, there is the possibility of receiving immigration business visas EB-1C or EB-5, which enables newcomers to obtain a green card. It is a time-consuming and painstaking process, but it is a surefire way for an investor to move from a business visa to a green card so that eventually they can become a permanent US resident.
Who Qualifies for an E-2 Visa?
The visa was introduced to attract foreign investors to the US by granting them permission to live in the country and do their business. The major requirement is buying an operating business in the US or setting up a new one on US territory and directly participating in the running of the enterprise.
The exact amount of the funds to be invested is not specified; however, it has to be sufficient to ensure sustainable business development. As a rule, experts estimate such investments in the amount of 100 thousand dollars. Also, it is important to prove the legal source of the funds pending investment.
Another important requirement is that a potential investor must have citizenship of a country that has signed a trade treaty with the United States. For example, citizens of India, China, Vietnam, Nigeria, Kenya and Saudi Arabia are not eligible to apply for this type of visa as their countries don’t have a special treaty with the US.
To apply for the visa E-2, you need to fill out the I-129 form and submit a packet of documents that will include a detailed business plan with estimates of the business’ earning power, the conformation of investments, evidence showing the legal source of the invested capital, a long list of personal documents confirming the petitioner’s clean record, and citizenship of an eligible country, to name a few requirements.
As a rule, the petition is processed within the following time limits:
- 1-3 weeks if filed with a US consulat
- 6-8 months if filed with the US immigration services
The process can be expedited: at an additional charge of $2,500, you are able to receive a USCIS decision in 15 days.
Advantages of the Immigration E-2 Visa
The E-2 program has a wide range of advantages of which the most important are:
- a relatively small amount of funds has to be invested
- you can invest both in an existing or a new business. Franchising is also a viable option
- while investing, there is no need to create new jobs
- the waiting period (petition processing time) is not long
- a US business doesn’t have to be affiliated with a business in the petitioner’s native country
- you are not required to have experience working in a managerial position
- speaking English is not obligatory
- your spouse and children are also eligible to apply for the visa with you
- a spouse is granted the right to work in the United States
- your children can go to a private or a state school
- the visa can be extended multiple times
The main point is to make sure that your business meets all requirements of the E-2 program.However, there is one disadvantage that might upset the long list of advantages: E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa, so it doesn't allow you to apply for US citizenship. Nevertheless, there is a way out: the visa E-2 can be used as a stepping stone to receive an immigrant visa such as EB-5 or EB-1C.
How to Get a Green Card EB-5 through an E-2 Visa
Holding an E-2 visa is not enough to apply for a green card. However, investors whose company has been developing successfully, is demonstrating a sustainable growth in size, and is financially stable are able to change their visa status to immigrant visa ЕВ-5. The EB-5 investor visa opens the way for US residency and then to US citizenship.
There are obligatory requirements for the investor's existing company to move from the E-2 to the EB-5 visa:
- you have to prove the legal source of the financial funds invested in an operating American enterprise
- you are required to invest a minimal amount of 800 thousand dollars in the US business (15 March 2022 it was increased from $500,000)
- you are obliged to create and maintain at least 10 jobs for US citizens, permanent residents, or individuals who are allowed to work on US territory
It should be noted that the investor is not required to have specialized professional qualifications, a rare profession, or English language skills.
The petition for an EB-5 visa needs to be filed with the US Immigration Services. It must be accompanied by a packet of documents that give evidence of the investments and business registration:
- articles of incorporation
- balance sheet
- business plan
- tax reports
- business license valid in the US
- bank statements
- organizational structure
- tax returns or statements
- contracts with business partners
The processing time for Petition I-526 (i.e. E-2 visa to green card ) is quite lengthy and amounts to 1.5-2 years; sometimes it can reach three years.
How to Obtain a Green Card EB-1C through an E-2 Visa
Another option to receive permanent residency by investment if you have an E-2 visa is to transfer to the visa EB-1C. This visa is designed for executive managers transferred by a foreign company to the US to run a newly-founded affiliated company there.
The option is available for executive managers who stay in the US on an E-2 visa and are actively engaged in running and developing a business in the US.
The obligatory requirement is the presence of an uninterrupted business relationship between the affiliated company in the US and the foreign company. In addition, the American affiliated company has to be doing business for at least one year. The following documents can be used to confirm this: the articles of incorporation of both companies, certificates of incorporation, business licenses, annual reports, bank statements proving the initial investments, tax payment documents, minutes of the board meetings, and a corporate letterhead.
It is important to mention that these individuals can be both a transferred employee and an employer. The American company files form I-140 with the US immigration services. Then the visa applicant fills out application form I-485 asking to change their visa status. They are followed by the employee's position description, which proves that the EB-1C applicant's job is executive or managerial.
A decision on the packet of documentation can be expected within 10-12 months. At an additional charge of $2,500 you can apply for an expedited processing of your petition – within 15 days.
A Green Card for Investor and Their Family Members
Immediate family members of the investor (the spouse and children under 21 years old) are also eligible to apply for visa E-2 and file a petition for the EB visa. It should be noted that the citizenship of family members may be different from the investor's citizenship.Family members are entitled to have a job in the US, go to school, secure a place at a university, apply for a scholarship, obtain access to medical care and some social benefits during the visa duration of the main applicant. After receiving an EB-1C visa, the investor and their family members obtain a US green card without additional terms and conditions.
Applying for an EB-5 investor visa is a bit more complicated. The procedure involves a period of staying in the US on a conditional green card valid for two years. During this period, the investor visa holders have the same rights as individuals with permanent unconditional green cards. Within 90 days prior to the visa expiry date, the investor and their family members have to file a form I-829. As soon as the petition is approved, applicants receive permanent unconditional green cards.
How can Immigration Attorneys from ACS Law Offices Help You?
A well-thought selection of evidence documentation is a guarantee of receiving a positive decision from the immigration services. If some documents are missing or there are inaccuracies in filling out the immigration forms, it reduces the likelihood of the petition’s approval.
An expert on immigration issues is ready to consult with you on all requirements for an applicant seeking an E-2 visa. In case of unconformity to certain requirements, our expert will offer recommendations on what can be done to finally qualify from obtaining citizenship from an authorized country (Grenada, Turkey, Montenegro, Ukraine, Egypt) to specific details of investing in the US economy.
You can completely rely on the immigration attorneys from ACS Law Offices when it comes to:
- choosing the most efficient strategy to receive the visa E-2 so you can transfer to an immigrant visa and receive a green card in the future
- completing all forms and petitions for your visa case accurately and promptly
- starting (registering) or expanding an existing business in the US
Our attorneys will file all documents to be processed at the immigration services (USCIS) as well as support you at all stages of receiving permanent resident status.
Extensive experience in legal practices, a profound knowledge in immigration issues, and professional communication with the immigration services will help you make your dream come true and become a US citizen.