The USA has always been a highly desirable destination for immigrants from all over the world, and the country offers various routes to grant residency to foreign investors.
The EB5 investor visa programme has long been one of the most popular options for those who are in a position to make a large investment into one of the countries regional centre projects (from $900,000 upwards). However, on June 30th 2021, the option to invest in EB5 regional centres expired as a bill to re-authorise the programme failed in the Senate. Whilst it is still possible to make a direct business investment through the EB5 programme (from $500,000), many investors have turned their attention to the E-2 visa programme as it provides not only a more cost-effective solution but a faster route to US residency. With the EB5 regional centre avenue now temporarily paused, there is likely to be a surge in demand for the E-2 investor visa programme.
Who is Eligible for an E-2 Visa?
Citizens of countries that hold an E-2 Visa treaty with the USA may be eligible to apply for a US residency visa via a business investment. As it currently stands, over 80 countries across the world hold this treaty, but the terms and validity of the visas vary depending on each countries personal agreement. The UK, Italy, Japan, Grenada and Turkey all have a visa treaty agreement offering the maximum stay terms of 60 months (5 years), with multiple entry rights. Countries such as Bangladesh and Egypt have an E-2 treaty agreement in place, however, the terms are not so favourable and will only grant a visa with a validity period of 3 months, which is simply not practical or attractive to investors.
How Much does an E-2 Visa cost?
Applicants need to invest in a US business of which they own at least a 50% share of. There is no official minimum investment amount stipulated, however it is advisable to invest approximately $100,000 + to ensure an application is successful. Applicants will also need to budget for application, processing and legal fees on top of the business investment.
Applicants from countries that do not hold and an E-2 Treaty with the US, such as India, China or Nigeria, will first need to apply for a Citizenship by Investment programme in an E-2 visa treaty country such as Turkey (from $250,000) or Grenada (from $150,000). All in all, the cost of both programmes combined will often be less than the $500,000 investment that is required for the EB5 programme.
What type of business do I invest in?
Visa applications based on business franchise models tend to have the highest approval rate in this category. Many foreign investors tend to favour a franchise opportunity as they like the concept and security of investing in an already established brand. Many business franchise models also allow the investor to play more of a passive role within the business. There is a range of franchise opportunities in various industries to choose from. Whether your expertise is in food and beverage, health and fitness, property management, automotive or business services, there is a solution for everyone. Our expert consultants will be able to guide you through the most suitable options.
How long does the process take?
The E-2 visa process will take roughly two-three months and applicants will be issued with a residency visa based on the terms that their home country holds with the US. Should applicants need to firstly apply for CBI in another country, this application may also take around three-six months. From start to finish investors can become US residents from two – nine months depending on their country of origin. The E-2 process is much quicker than the EB5 programme which can typically take 18 months or more.
To find out more about the E-2 visa programme, please do not hesitate to contact our consultants who will be able to advise you in more detail.