Should I apply for EB-5 since USCIS is not going to extend E-2 visas for Iranians?
I am an Iranian living and working in the U.S. with an E-2 visa. Recently I heard that Iranian nationals will no longer be eligible for E-2 visas. My current E-2 visa will expire soon and I want to turn to other visa options. Is it advisable for me to apply for the EB-5 program? Will my eligibility for EB-5 be impacted by my nationality?
It is only advisable if you have eligibility for EB-5 classification. Also, rumors are not facts; consult with a business immigration attorney to make that big of a call in your life. Yes, any moves with the State Department or DHS will have you going on an uphill pattern these days as an Iranian.
Yes, you can apply for an EB-5 based green card but having a pending application does not give you the ability to remain in the U.S. lawfully. You will either need to leave the country before your E-2 expires or adjust to a different temporary visa while you wait for the EB-5 approval.
EB-5 is an option for you, but you will likely need something to fill the gap while you wait for your I-526 petition to be processed. Also, it may not be that easy to use your E-2 investment as the basis for an EB-5. You need to have invested the required minimum ($900k or $1.8 million, depending on whether the investment is in a TEA) and you need to be able to prove the lawful source of the funds, which may or may not be possible to do. You also need to have a plan to create at least 10 full-time, permanent jobs. However, it is certainly possible to do, provided you can meet the requirements.
The travel ban does not seem to affect those already in the U.S. to apply for changes or adjustment of status, at least that is what USCIS has said. The first step of the EB-5 process is the I-526, and you cannot file for the green card at the same time, meaning your E-2 will still likely expire before you are eligible to apply for a green card after I-526 approval. You might need to consider other options.
There is no nationality requirement for EB-5, nor are there at present any regulations or executive orders precluding Iranians from applying for EB-5 classification. Depending on how much remaining time you have on your current E-2, the lengthy USCIS processing times for I-526 immigrant petitions might mean that you will not be able to remain in the United States while waiting for your EB-5 case to be complete.
If your country no longer maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S., then you will no longer be eligible for an E-2 visa. On the contrary, EB-5 does not have specific requirements for your nationality. Therefore, as long as you have at least $900,000 for TEA or $1.8 million to invest in an entity in the U.S. and create at least 10 jobs, and you can explain the money you invested comes from a lawful source of funds, then you definitely can consider EB-5 as an alternative to obtain green card. However, please note that it currently takes up to 32.5 to 49.5 months for the USCIS to process the I-526 petition. Merely filing an I-526 will not give you a legal status to stay in the U.S.
Yes, your eligibility for EB-5 is impacted by your nationality due to the travel ban. You are not barred from receiving the visa, but it will be a lengthy process. Further, EB-5 processing takes up to three years.
It is advisable you should consider changing from E-2 to EB-5, particularly if upon evaluation, you qualify for an EB-5 application. The government has announced that it would no longer offer E-2 to the Iranians. You should also consider the issue of visa restrictions to Iranian individuals as a result of the travel ban that relates to Iran.