When someone mentions an “investor’s visa”, they could be referring to one of two very different visa categories. The first, EB-5, is seen as more desirable since it is an immigrant visa, leading to a green card. However, the EB-5 program is rife with fraud, has high barriers to entry, and has an uncertain political future. The nonimmigrant E-2 visa may be a better option. While this visa does not lead to automatic permanent residence, it can be renewed indefinitely for as long as the investment business continues to operate.
Unlike the EB-5, there is no fixed dollar amount that needs to be invested, although the investment must be substantial (either in terms of the dollar amount, or relative to the total value of the business). There is also no requirement that the investment enterprise create jobs for US workers- although the business must be run for a profit, not merely to provide subsistence to the investor and their family. An E-2 applicant will be expected to trace the source of the investment funds, in order to show that they did not come from illegal activity.
Once ready to file an E-2 application (the investment must either be an existing business, or ready to open its doors shortly after issuance of the visa), the applicant can apply directly at the consulate or embassy. Bypassing the need for prior USCIS approval drastically cuts down the processing time for this visa.
There is one hitch- the E-2 visa is established by treaty, meaning that only nationals from countries with an E-2 treaty with the United States are eligible. Several large countries, including India and China, do not have the requisite treaty with the United States.
If you think the E-2 visa is a good fit for your aspirations of immigrating to the United States, we are here to help you.
For a full list of E-2 Treaty countries, see the Department of State website.