5 Effective Ways of Changing Your E-2 Visa into a Green Card
Many people want to come to the United States for a better life, a brighter career and an improved lifestyle. However, not many know how they can achieve all this and change their lives for good. Many do not know that they can live and work in the US through an E-2 visa and then get a green card. First, this involves obtaining an E-2 investor visa and then eventually applying for permanent residence, or green card, in order to permanently settle in America.
In this article, we are listing five ways that people residing in the US on an E-2 investor’s visa can use to change their status and obtain a green card. You will find out about your options. But first, let’s start with the basics – what is an E-2 visa?
What Is an E-2 Visa?
An E-2 visa is an investor’s visa that can be obtained by investing capital in the US. This visa allows you to:
- Legally work full-time in the organization you have invested in
- Travel in and out of the US without any restraints
- Reside on a prolonged basis with uncapped two-year additional extensions, provided you maintain your E-2 visa eligibility requirements and qualifications
- Bring along all your dependents aged 21 and under, as well as your relatives and spouse. This visa also allows your spouse to work full time in the US and your children can attend school without having to apply for additional work or student visas.
Now that the E-2 visa and what it offers to its applicants have been explained, let’s move onto how it can help you settle permanently in the US. The following five methods have been practiced for quite some time now by people from all over the world.
- Invest Extra Capital and Obtain an EB-5 Green Card
Initially, a prospective applicant entering the US to establish a business via an E-2 work visa is required to invest a particular amount of capital. Even though there is no minimum investment amount stated by law, our experience tells us that an investor should have enough money for the purchase of a business, working capital, and moving expenses, which can be at least $100,000 US dollars, and plan to create a minimum of 2-3 new job positions for American citizens within the span of five years in order to obtain the E-2 investor visa.
If an individual has more money to spend, however, they can submit an application for an EB-5 visa that gets them a green card directly through their investment, while they still run their company in the United States under their E-2 investor visa. However, it must be noted that the process to obtain an EB-5 permanent residence costs more and the process is longer.
After November 21, 2019, EB-5 investors have to invest a minimum of $1.8 million US dollars in order to qualify for a green card. This is commonly known as EB-5 direct. The investor must create at least 10 new employment positions through the corporation in order for him or her to qualify for the change from an E-2 Visa to the EB-5 Green Card. An equally important point that many overlook is that all the money being declared under net assets and being invested needs to be traceable, i.e., the path and source of the funds needs to be registered and declared. The money must also come from outside the United States and cannot originate from the E-2 business.
- Finance a Regional Center Project and Obtain an EB-5 Green Card
Instead of investing $1.8 million USD (after November 21, 2019) in the EB-5 direct, you can instead, invest $900,000 USD (after November 21, 2019) into any EB-5 regional center project and become a passive investor of the said project, while you simultaneously continue to manage your own E-2 visa business as well. Regional center investments enables you to create the required 10 new employment positions indirectly in the regional center project, allowing you to meet all the necessary requirements.
When compared to the other methods, this proves to be relatively cheaper and easier. However, you do need to be aware that you will need to invest this capital for a minimum of 5 years. Moreover, the condition of the funds being traceable applies to this scenario as well.
- Look for an Employer Who Can Sponsor You
One of the most common yet difficult pathways to obtain a visa in the US is to look for a job where the employer is willing to sponsor you. Another way is where your spouse applies for a similar job and sponsors your stay as well. You will need an immigration lawyer to help you through the process, especially with all the documentation in order for your application to be processed on time and without any hurdles.
You can opt to do it yourself as well. However, such applicants often struggle with their documentation and end up having their submissions rejected. Moreover, the procedure is tricky, time-consuming, and almost an art, and finding such an employer is a challenge. Therefore, you should leave this task to the professionals and get an immigration attorney to do the documentation while you look for an appropriate sponsor.
- Get Your Family to Sponsor You
If you have a blood relative such as a sibling, parents, spouse or children who hold an American nationality or even a green card, they can sponsor you for a family-based green card while you continue to operate your E-2 Visa business.
Other methods include if you or your spouse have an advanced degree, such as Masters or Doctoral degree, you may self-petition under the National Interest Waiver. The National Interest Waiver is not for everyone since it does require for you to be at the top of the professional field. However, it is not an impossible path towards a green card. We recommend that you speak to an immigration lawyer to find out if you are a good candidate for this option.
- Form a New Company Outside of the US
E-2 visa holders may qualify for an L-1 visa under a very specific scenario. The L-1A Visa is a dual intent visa which means that after one year, an L-1A Visa holder can apply for a green card. For this to work, an investor must be a minority owner of a foreign corporation and have worked for the corporation for a full year. The investor comes to the US to open a business under an E-2 visa. One year later, the investor sells the E-2 business to the foreign corporation. The foreign corporation can then send the E-2 investor to the US as a manager transferee with an L-1 visa. This can work well for companies that are not ripe for L-1 visas, but whose minority investor is eligible for an E-2 visa.
Points to Remember When Attempting to Convert an E-2 into an EB-5
The EB-5 green card comes with a few additional eligibility conditions that an E-2 investor’s visa does not demand. As a green card holder, if you maintain a business outside of the US that requires you to travel abroad for more than six months out of the year, you could risk losing your green card.
Another point worth noting is that while an investor can submit a petition for an EB-5 green card while still residing in America and can continue to stay until it is approved. However, when the green card petition is approved, they generally have to leave the US and return with their immigrant visa to obtain the green card.
There are different aspects of these pathways that need to be checked with an immigration lawyer. Immigration attorneys know the legal requirements of these visas and can help you achieve the desires results, thus saving you money and time.