We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.
The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.
There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.
Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.
How long are the delays?
It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.
Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.
Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.
The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.
Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.
China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.
Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. You may check if your country is part of the E-2 Treaty Countries.
Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa
If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.
It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.
Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.
Benefits of the E-2 Visa
So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.
- Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
- You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
- You can bring your spouse and children with you
- Spouses can apply to work outside the business
- You have freedom to travel to and from United States
- There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
- The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains
E2 to EB-5
Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.
That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.
Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.
Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.
Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).
Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.
Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.
Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.
We wish her the best of luck in America.
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