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How can an entrepreneur switch from E-2 to an EB-5 visa?

I co-own a tech company in Germany focusing on distribution and representation (components and modules), and I want to expand the business to the United States. I plan to make an initial investment of $150,000 - $200,000. I would like to end up getting my U.S. permanent residency and I will be applying for an E-2 visa first. Then I plan on applying through the EB-5 program. What would I need to do to eventually switch from an E-2 to an EB-5 visa? What should I be doing while on the E-2 visa to make sure that my EB-5 application will be successful?

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    Answered on

    The business must be within a Targeted Employment Area or rural area to qualify for a lower investment threshold. At least 10 full-time jobs must be created per EB-5 investor. The lawful source of investment funds must be carefully documented. The business must be otherwise EB-5 compliant and have a comprehensive business plan compliant with EB-5 requirements. I suggest you consult experienced EB-5 counsel/corporate counsel at the very beginning to ensure you will qualify for transitioning from E-2 to EB-5.

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    John J Downey

    Answered on

    First and foremost, document your source of funds even at the E-2 stage. Keep accurate business records especially regarding employees. Be prepared to show how the increased investment created the requisite new employment for 10 jobs. Make sure your business is within a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) if you wish to use the $500,000 investment.

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    Answered on

    Please note that E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa, which requires you to attest that you do not have an immigrant intent. This means, you cannot simply enter as E-2 with an intent to switch from E-2 to EB-5. If you enter as an E-2, and after running your business successfully for a while, you think you could expand and add another required EB-5 investment amount to that business and could create 10+ permanent, full-time jobs, then it may be possible. But, this will take careful planning and a strategy with a team of EB-5 business consultants and lawyers to prepare the business plan and to make the business EB-5 compliant. You will also need to make much more than the initial investment to qualify.

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    Answered on

    This can be done, but you must retain an attorney from the beginning so you can comply with the source of funds rules that are different for E-2 and EB-5. You must work with a lawyer that does both.

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    Answered on

    This is doable. There are lots of things to do, but I suggest you consult to go over the details of your case as it is hard to generalize.

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