What is the best way for foreign investors to immigrate to the United States? That is the question a lot of investor immigrants ask. Among the best ways are the E-2 work visa and the EB5 green card route. Choosing between them depends on your needs. The following chart lays out some of the considerations:
Chart E-2 Work Visa Vs. EB5 Investment Green Card
Pace Law Firm
With an E-2 work visa application, an investor and his family can arrive in America within say, a few months. But there is no long term certainty in this scenario – E-2 applications are usually approved only for five years at a time, albeit they can be renewed in five year increments indefinitely. So the advantage is speed of entry but at a cost of relative long-term uncertainty.
On the other hand, the key advantage of the EB5 green card is relative long term certainty. The cost for most applicants is a two-year delay in entry due to processing time. That’s O.K. for some applicants because they do not want to move until they know for sure they have permanent residence status. In the case of Chinese and Indian applicants, however, delays are substantially longer which may make starting off with an EB5 application to come to the U.S. unattractive – more about that in a moment.
An U.S. entry visa in a foreign passport, such as for example an E-2 work visa, enables the investor … [+]
In my view, investor immigrants from countries that have an investment treaty with the USA (ie not China, India or most Arab countries in the Middle East, but many others) should seriously consider applying for the E-2 work visa to start. See the list of such countries here. For them, to draw an analogy, if you have a green light, take it. Why wait for all the lights down the road to be green before you start? The E-2 work visa opens up various long term possibilities, such as those here. One such possibility is to apply for both – the E-2 visa and the EB5 green card at the same time. The E-2 gets you in quickly and then you wait your turn for a green card, but inside the United States.
Chinese and Indian Investor Immigrants
As for Chinese and Indian investor immigrants, the E-2 work visa also makes sense except for one problem – their countries do not have investment treaties with the United States. In the absence of a special strategy, they have no alternative but to wait in the EB5 processing backlog for ten years or more. Or do they?
There is one other option – golden passports to another country that can be combined with an E-2 work visa. This option involves becoming a citizen of a third country so the investor and his family can enter into the United States immediately rather than wait some ten years or more.
Golden passports from countries with investment agreements with the United States like Grenada and … [+]
Golden Passports and E-2 U.S. Work Visas
Golden passports get you citizenship for investing in a country’s national fund, or by purchasing real estate. They are called “golden passports” because of the express processing of applications, the access to entry to many other countries that the passports offer, the lax residency requirements to qualify and their relatively reasonable cost for high net worth individuals. What is even more valuable, is when the country offering such a golden passport has an investment treaty that enables it to offer E-2 work visa access to the United States. Among these countries are: Grenada and Turkey.
Again, the important point is how soon you can qualify to apply for an E-2 work visa from your adopted new homeland and then enter the USA. There are many countries that offer permanent residence quickly, but require extra time or effort to become a citizen. Among those are: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Spain, France, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Latvia, Greece, and Hungary. These are not what Chinese and Indian investors need, if the target is U.S. immigration. Assuming the investor has, say as little as $ 1 million U.S., the Golden Passport/E-2 Work Visa/EB5 green card route can be viable and entry into the USA with family members in tow on E-2 visas can be achieved within about six months. Green cards can follow once they are approved.
To reiterate, the E-2 work visa works well for investor immigrants living in countries with investment treaties with the United States and who want to move to the U.S. quickly. The principal applicant and spouse can work and the children can go to school at discounted tuition rates. When the applicants are Chinese or Indians, they should consider the golden passport/E-2 visa route to achieve the same objective. For green cards, the EB5 immigrant visa route is excellent, although for Chinese and Indian applicants, there will be a substantial processing delays due to country backlogs. The delay can be tempered, however, by a quick U.S. entry with E-2 visa status.