How do EB-5 and E-2 visas compare for applicants with little to no business background?
I am an Egyptian citizen considering moving to the U.S. with my family. I have adequate funds through inheritance, but do not personally have much business experience. It looks like E-2 is an option (and probably a less costly one) but I am not sure how much active experience is necessary to invest in a business to qualify? Does it count as an investment if I buy shares in an existing company, or does it have to be 100% under my name? Can I purchase an existing business then hire others to manage it? Would an EB-5 regional center investment make more sense in this case, despite being more costly with potentially longer processing times? Which one has a higher approval rate for Egyptian nationals?
If you pursue the E-2 investment option, you must show that you are qualified to run it. Having a manager may be helpful but it is possibly better to go straight for the green card if you have immigrant intent, since the scope of management skills required is much lower for EB-5 investment, especially in a good regional center project.
There is no particular level of business experience you need to have for either E-2 or EB-5. E-2 is a nonimmigrant visa option that allows you to establish a business from the ground up or purchase at least a 50% interest in an existing business or an entire existing business or franchise that is suitable for E-2. As the principal E-2 investor you must show you will be in the position to develop and direct E-2 business. Some job creation or retention of existing jobs should be shown through a 5-year business plan. This is an option that does not directly lead to a green card but can be structured to qualify for EB-5. Spouse and unmarried kids under 21 are included in your application (immediate family). EB-5 visa allows you to obtain a conditional green card for you and immediate family via a direct investment or indirect Regional Center investment. Direct investment requires creation of at least 10 full time jobs whereas Regional Center investment will help you avoid being directly responsible for job creation. Investment amounts are much higher and funds and source tracing are more rigorous for EB-5 rather than E-2. Approval rates do not depend on a particular nationality but rather on how well your case is prepared. Schedule a comprehensive consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to help you choose the most appropriate immigration option for you and your family.
Your questions have involved answers. You need a consultation appointment with an immigration attorney so that the immigration attorney can give you appropriate legal advice and so that you can ask the attorney questions. I will also make a few general comments now. The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that is intended for a temporary stay in the U.S. The period of stay can be extended repeatedly if the applicable legal requirements can be satisfied. Obtaining an E-2 visa does make the foreign national a U.S. permanent resident. A foreign national could become an E-2 investor by obtaining majority ownership in an existing business. Also, a foreign national could become an E-2 investor by purchasing an existing business and hiring other people to manage the business. Making an EB-5 investment is not a route for a foreign national to become a U.S. permanent resident. There are specific EB-5 investments in which the foreign national investor does not manage the business or business project.
One of the requirements for the E-2 is that the applicant is in a position to direct and develop the company. Among some of the factors considered by the Consular Officer is the experience as commensurate to position and salary. In other words, there should be some experience in directing and developing businesses. The EB-5 program focuses its attention more on the investment per se. Furthermore, the E-2 gives you a temporary visa that allows you to work here in the business, but this is temporary nevertheless and it requires renewals. The EB-5, on the other hand, would provide you with permanent residence.
Please note that there are two types of EB-5 visa. Direct and indirect. Direct is when you buy a business directly, which must create at least 10 full time jobs for purpose of EB-5 with the minimum investment of $800K. An indirect EB-5 is when you invest your $800K in one of the Regional Centers and the Regional Center project does everything else on your behalf and you do not need to deal with daily management or other responsibilities. You will be a limited partner and pretty much like a silent partner in the project. However, unlike E-2 visa, both Direct or Indirect EB-5 will sponsor you and your family for a green card. However, an E-2 does not provide you with a green card. You can buy a business for the purpose of the E-2 and hire a manager for daily operations. In order to know what are the best options for you and be able to have all of your questions answered properly, I strongly recommend a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the difference between E-2 and EB-5.