Are you an E-2 visa holder thinking about applying for a green card? If this is the case, you are not alone. Many individuals question if they may apply for permanent residency while on an E-2 visa, which is a non-immigrant visa that allows investors and entrepreneurs to temporarily live and work in the United States.
In this article, we’ll look at how to apply for a green card while on an E-2 visa and answer some frequently asked questions.
Starting on an E-2 Visa
You’ve probably heard of the E-2 visa, which allows you to travel to the United States to open a company or operate an existing one as an investor or entrepreneur provided you hold a controlling stake in the company.
You may be wondering, though, if you may someday become a permanent resident of the United States and enjoy all of the perks that come with a green card.
The good news is that it is possible to apply for a green card while on an E-2 visa in some instances. Before we get into the specifics of applying for a green card on an E-2 visa, let’s first define an E-2 visa and who is qualified to apply for one.
What exactly is an E-2 Visa?
An E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign investors or entrepreneurs to temporarily live and work in the United States. This visa is only available to citizens of nations who have a trade and navigation pact with the United States.
Who qualifies for an E-2 visa?
To be eligible for an E-2 visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of a treaty country
- Have invested a significant amount of capital (generally at least $100,000) in a U.S. firm that is engaged in an active, operating business. Passive activities such as trading stocks or investing in real estate do not qualify.
- Intend to grow and direct the investment enterprise
- Be able to demonstrate that you intend to return to your home country after your E-2 visa expires.
Is it possible to apply for a Green Card while on an E-2 visa?
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals of the E-2 visa, let’s get to the heart of the matter: can you apply for a green card while on an E-2 visa?
In some circumstances, yes.
The simple answer is that you can apply for a green card while on an E-2 visa, but the procedure is lengthy and there are several limitations you should be aware of. Below we will discuss some possible scenarios.
On an E-2 visa, how can I apply for a green card?
You can apply for a green card on an E-2 visa in multiple ways:
- Marriage to a US citizen: If you marry a US citizen while on an E-2 visa, you may be able to obtain a green card through marriage.
- Employer sponsorship: You may be eligible to apply for a green card through employment-based immigration (EB-2 or EB-3) if your employer is prepared to sponsor you.
- Self-sponsorship: If you are a highly skilled professional you could self petition and receive a green card through the National Interest Waiver category or even the EB-1a category for extraordinary individuals
- Investment: If you have a considerable amount of capital invested in a U.S. firm and can demonstrate that it will create 10 new jobs for U.S. employees, you may be able to qualify for an EB-5 green card. You could in fact use your E-2 business as the basis for an EB-5 green card, or you could invest in a regional center project for your EB-5 investment (read one of our other articles about what a regional center is and how immigrant investors are able to acquire a green card through them).
What are the constraints?
While applying for a green card on an E-2 visa is doable, there are some constraints to be aware of:
- The E-2 visa itself doesn’t help in acquiring a green card. The most direct way of acquiring a green card from an E-2 is using your E-2 business as the basis for an EB-5 petition. However, $800,000 often exceeds the financial capabilities of clients, and the EB-5 might not be realistic in that case.
- From our experience most clients probably file for an EB-2 or EB-3 or NIW to adjust to a green card. (Marriage of course is also an option if you find your better half!). These options don’t require additional investments, like the EB-5. However, the EB-2/EB-3 require finding an employer, which can be a challenge for clients.
- Another limitation is timing. If you have already filed for some green card option and are awaiting a decision, but you need to go to the embassy to renew your E-2 visa, this could pose problems for the E-2 renewal. As mentioned above, the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa. However, if you disclose that you are in the process of acquiring a green card, that is generally not compatible with non-immigrant intent. And it is quite possible that your E-2 will be denied. Therefore, it is imperative to get the timing correct so that you get the green card petition approved prior to having to go in for another E-2 visa renewal.
Obtaining an EB-5 Visa While residing in the US on an E-2 visa
If you are currently in the United States on an E-2 visa and want to apply for a green card, the EB-5 visa may be an option for you. The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa that permits foreign citizens to get a green card by investing a minimum of $800,000 in a new business in the United States.
The following are some frequently asked questions about the E-2 visa and earning a green card in the United States:
Is it possible to apply for a Green Card while on an E-2 visa?
Yes, you can apply for a green card while on an E-2 visa. It is important to note, however, that acquiring a green card via the EB-5 visa while on an E-2 visa can be a complicated procedure that necessitates considerable planning and deliberation.
What exactly is an E-2 visa?
A non-immigrant E-2 visa allows foreign nationals to invest in and manage a business in the United States. It is intended to facilitate trade and investment between the United States and countries with which it has commerce and navigation treaties.
What are the E-2 visa requirements?
To be eligible for an E-2 visa, you must be a citizen of a nation with which the US has a treaty of commerce and navigation, invest a significant amount of capital in a US business, and establish that you will actively manage the business.
How long may I stay in the United States on an E-2 visa?
The duration of stay in the U.S. on an E-2 visa is normally two years, with the option of extending for another period. The duration of the actual visa depends on the E-2 treaty agreement signed between the United States and the treaty country. Visas range in duration from 90 days to 5 years depending on the country. However, regarding of the visa duration, all E-2 holders are given 2 years to stay in the U.S. upon each entry into the United States.
Can I extend my E-2 visa?
Yes, you can renew your E-2 visa as long as you match the eligibility requirements.
Is it possible to work on an E-2 visa?
On an E-2 visa, you can work for the company in which you have invested. However, you are not permitted to work for any other employer in the United States.
Can my husband and children accompany me on an E-2 visa?
Yes, you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States on an E-2 visa. Your spouse can receive work authorization, but your children do not receive such authorization. Once your child turns 21, they lose their E-2 status and must apply for some other status to remain in the U.S.
How can I obtain an E-2 visa?
To apply for an E-2 visa, you can file a petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you are in the U.S. and would like to change your status in the U.S. Otherwise, if you are abroad and want to apply at the embassy, then your E-2 petition is submitted directly at the U.S. consulate where you will then be called for an interview. The E-2 interview is quite important, and it is very important to be prepared. Request from us materials on how to prepare for the E-2 interview, since this can play an important role in receiving the visa. Therefore, it is important to prepare as much as possible prior to the interview. If you change your status in the U.S., there is no interview. However, if you change your status in the U.S., you are receiving only status (for two years), but you do not receive a visa. If you leave the U.S. later, you would then need to apply at a consulate to receive a visa and return to the U.S.
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