By Last Updated: June 7th, 2024

8 Differences between E2 and EB-5 VisaThe EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa that leads to a faster route to getting a green card. The EB 5 Visa allows eligible investors to become lawful permanent residents by investing a minimum amount of capital to finance a new business. The E-2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa and does not directly lead to acquiring a green card. The E2 Visa enables a foreign national to enter and work in the United States in exchange for an investment in a U.S. firm. The investor must invest a significant amount in a business in the U.S. to obtain an E-2 Visa.

The E-2 visa and the EB-5 visa are both excellent possibilities to consider if you are an investor seeking to enter the United States. The E2 and EB5 Visas allow you to work in the United States if you invest in a U.S. firm. The E-2 and EB-5 visas may seem similar, but they are distinct in numerous aspects. The eight differences between E-2 and EB-5 Visas are listed below.

  • Immigrant Visa: An immigrant visa is granted to a foreigner who wishes to reside and work permanently in the United States. The EB5 Visa is an immigrant visa.
  • Nonimmigrant: A nonimmigrant visa is granted to foreigners who wish for temporary entry into the United States. The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa.
  • Source of Funds: Both the E-2 and EB5 visas require the investor to show proof of the source of funds. The difference lies in the manner in which this requirement is applied. The source of funds required for obtaining an EB-5 Visa is examined in detail with critical attention compared to obtaining an E-2 Visa.
  • Ownership of Business: The term “ownership of business” refers to the control of a business, having the capacity to manage its operations and functions. The E2 Visa requires that the investor own at least 50% of the business. The EB5 Visa does not require the investor to handle or manage the business directly.
  • Minimum Investment Amount: The E-2 Visa requires a “considerable” amount of investment. For E2 Visa, an investment amount of $150,000 is recommended. The EB 5 Visa requires a minimum investment amount of $800,000.
  • Place of Filing: The E-2 Visa application must be filed directly with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate depending on the investor’s location. The EB-5 Visa application must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • National Requirement: The national requirement pertains to the investor’s country of origin. The E2 Visa is accessible to nationals of treaty countries. The EB2 Visa is available to any nationality in the world.
  • Timeline: The timeline is the period of time spent processing the visa application. The timeline for the E2 Visa depends on where it is filed and, on average, is 5 months. Expedite processing for an E2 Visa takes only 15 days. The processing of applications at the Consulate is usually between 2 weeks and 4 months.

1. Immigrant Visa

An Immigrant Visa is granted to an offshore national who wishes to reside and work permanently in the United States. In most circumstances, a family or employer files an application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of the applicant (USCIS).

The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa available for citizens of any country in the world.

2. Nonimmigrant

A nonimmigrant visa is granted to a foreign national with permanent residence outside the United States who intends to enter temporarily for business, research, medical treatment, business, or research.

The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, so it does not lead to permanent residence status. You need to leave the United States upon the expiration of your E2 status.

3. Source of Funds

The source of funds for both the E-2 Visa and the EB-5 Visa must come from a lawful source. Both funds can come from lawful employment, revenue from the sale of the investor’s property, income from the sale of a business, a loan, or a gift.

The difference between the sources of funds in the E2 and EB5 visas is the degree to which this condition is enforced. The EB5 Source of Funds Requirements are more stringent, with the source of funds traced further back than an E2 application.

4. Ownership of Business

One of the most important conditions for obtaining an E-2 visa is that an investor from a treaty country owns at least 50% of the E2 enterprise/company. To prove ownership of the business, the applicant will have to present evidence that he or she is the ultimate controlling shareholder of the US firm.

The EB-5 visa has no specified requirements for firm ownership. When an investor invests in a regional center, the ownership portion of the investor is often equivalent to one limited partnership unit.

5. Minimum Investment Amount

The E2 visa requires a “considerable” amount of at least $150,000. The EB5 visa requires a minimum investment amount of $800,000. Both the investment amounts required by E2 and EB5 must be invested in a new business venture and must be from a legal source.

6. Place of Filing

The E-2 Visa application must be submitted directly to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate depending on the location of the investor. The investor will likely submit your E2 visa application to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your native country.

The EB-5 Visa application must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the I-526 petition has been approved, the investor living in the US must file Form I-485 with the USCIS, while an investor living outside the US must file Form DS-260 with the US Embassy or US Consulate.

7. Nationality Requirement

The E-2 Visa requires applicants to come from countries that are included in the E2 Treaty list.

The EB-5 Visa has no nationality requirements. Any foreign national can apply for an EB5 Visa.

8. Timeline

The timeline for an E-2 Visa depends on the location of the investor. The average processing time for an investor based in the United States is 5 months. Premium processing time for an E2 Visa takes 15 days and costs $2,500. Consular processing time for E2 Visas outside the United States ranges from 2 weeks to 4 months.

The EB-5 processing period for I-526 immigrant petitions is between 29.5 and 61 months, per the United States, Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) estimates. The USCIS processing time estimate for Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) ranges from 7 to 29 months. Form I-485 is for foreign investors based in the U.S. The National Visa Center and Consular processing times are between 6 and 12 months for foreign investors. Learn more about the EB-5 Visa Process.

What are the advantages of E2 and EB-5 Visa?

Both the E2 and EB-5 visas are intended for foreign investors. However, these two types of visas are distinct from each other because of the requirements attached to them. The 3 main advantages of an E2 Visa are listed below.

  1. Work legally in the United States. You can legally do business in the United States and manage it directly.
  2. Invest a substantial amount. You can invest in a business with $150,000. The United States government does not set a minimum or maximum investment amount for an E-2 visa.
  3. Obtain an E-2 visa for your spouse and children under 21 years of age. The spouse and children of an E2 investor may receive E2 visas to reside in the United States. These family members may apply along with the E2 investor or after the E2 visa has been awarded. Children must be under 21 years of age to qualify for an E-2 Visa as a dependent.

Like the E2 Visa, the EB5 Visa has 3 primary advantages. These are listed below.

  1. Obtain legitimate status in the United States. The EB-5 Visa authorizes the investors, their spouses, and their children to legally reside, work, and study in the United States.
  2. This leads to obtaining a green card. The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant visa and directly results in the issuance of a green card. The EB5 Visa is the fastest route to acquiring a US green card through investment.
  3. Enables the investor’s children below 21 years of age to get an education in the U.S. The EB-5 investment visa allows your children to enroll in school and have access to the same education and further education as American citizens. This includes admission to public and private high schools, undergraduate and graduate institutions (including medical school or law school). Your children have the same professional privileges as any other child in the U.S.

What are the disadvantages of E2 and EB-5 Visa?

The E2 visa and EB5 immigrant visa have their own share of disadvantages.

Some of the disadvantages of the E2 Visa are: firstly, only foreign nationals from treaty countries can apply; secondly, it does not lead to permanent residency status unless you file for a change of status; and thirdly, the small capital investment makes the business susceptible to failing.

The disadvantages of the EB5 Visa are: firstly, it requires a minimum investment capital; secondly, the new investment is “at-risk” like all new American firms; and thirdly, you lose the opportunity to obtain a green card if your business plan fails to materialize within two years.

Both the E-2 visa and the EB-5 visa offer paths to enter the United States with some differences. Choosing which of these two visas is better depends on the needs and intentions of the foreign national.