In an effort to promote American economic growth, the U.S. government issues visas to foreign investors who want to invest in U.S. based businesses and enterprises. There are two types of investor visas currently available to foreign citizens, the E-2 financier visa and the EB-5 financier visa.
EB-5 Investor Visa
The EB-5 financier visa is available to foreign citizens who invest a “substantial” amount of capital into a U.S. based business, which is generally $1 million, but can be reduced to $500,000 if the investment is made into a Targeted Employment Area, which is an area that is deemed to be in high need of economic stimulation and job growth. This program further requires that the investment creates at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers if made into a new business, or that the investment expands the net worth or work force of a business already in operation by at least 40%.
The investment can be made directly into a qualifying business venture by the financier on his or her own, or invested into a regional center, which is a private business entity that exists to direct EB-5 investment funds in specific geographic locations on behalf of foreign investors. To qualify for the EB-5 investor visa, an financier need not have any actual control over how the funds are spent or how a business is operated, which makes it an attractive option for foreign citizens who have money to invest but who don’t want to be responsible for directing funds and operations on their own.
E-2 Investor Visa
The E-2 financier visa is a visa specified for investors from treaty nations, that is, nations with which the United States maintains an active treaty of commerce. To qualify for an E-2 financier visa, the individual requesting the visa must be a citizen of a treaty nation, must have the intention of entering the United States for the sole purpose of developing and directing the investment, and must have at least a 50% ownership stake in the investment enterprise or exercise at least 50% control of the business operation by means of a management or corporate officer position.
Unlike the EB-5 investor visa, the E-2 investor visa does not detail a specific amount of capital which must be invested into a business in order to meet requirements. The program states that the investment must be substantial, which is interpreted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as in relation to the cost of buying or establishing a qualifying enterprise, as sufficient to sustain successful operations, and of such a magnitude to support the likelihood of the investor actually and successfully developing and directing the enterprise. In other words, the less expensive it is for the investor to get started in an enterprise, the lower the amount of an investment the investor will have to make in order to qualify for the E-2 visa.
Attorney Advice Should be Sought
While these are the basics of the EB-5 and E-2 investor visa programs, an experienced E-1 E-2 investor attorney should still be consulted for specific guidance on meeting visa requirements and on applying for the visa through the government.