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April 25, 2018

E-2 to Green Card: Choosing Your Best Path to the United States

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  The E-2 Visa is a great tool for foreign national entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in the United States, including New York. Its requirements are relatively straightforward, and it does not come with a great financial burden (investing $100,000 in a business enterprise in the U.S.

 

Famous Green Card Holder: First Lady Melania Trump
Famous Green Card Holder: First Lady Melania Trump

The E-2 Visa is a great tool for foreign national entrepreneurs seeking to start a business in the United States, including New York. Its requirements are relatively straightforward, and it does not come with a great financial burden (investing $100,000 in a business enterprise in the U.S. would, for the most part, satisfy the capital requirement of this visa). However, if you are considering an E-2 to green card immigration option, you should also investigate potential alternatives.

The E-2 Visa to green card strategy may not be the best option for foreign national entrepreneurs looking to gain permanent residency in the U.S. In fact, the E-2 Visa does not allow dual intent, meaning that you are not allowed to claim both lawful temporary status and intent to immigrate. To be allowed in the U.S. under this visa, a foreign entrepreneur must establish that he or she intends to return to his or her country.

E-2 to Green Card Immigration Alternatives

If you are a foreign entrepreneur seeking a green card, you should evaluate your options for an E-2 Visa, green card, or other path to residency in the U.S. and become well-versed in the many routes available and what each of those possibilities entails for you.

Family or Employment Sponsoring in Lieu of an E-2 to Green Card Path

An E-2 Visa and green card are fortunately only two of many immigration choices available. Sponsorship by a citizen family member or your employer are two other possibilities to consider.

A U.S. citizen family member of a foreign entrepreneur may petition for him or her to immigrate to the United States as a permanent resident. The following family members, when they are U.S. citizens, are eligible to petition on behalf of the entrepreneur.

  • A parent or parents;
  • Siblings over 21 years old;
  • Children over 21 years old;
  • The spouse of the entrepreneur; and
  • The fiance(e) of the entrepreneur.

It is important to note that the process is notoriously long. It can take years before permanent residency is approved through family sponsoring. However, if your goals are for the long term, this could still be a route to consider in lieu of an E-2 Visa and green card approach.

U.S. immigration laws also allow employers to petition for employment-based (EB) immigration for their foreign national employees who meet certain requirements. The law creates “preference immigration” categories for green card sponsoring through employment, including the EB-1 green card and the EB-2 green card.

EB-1 Green Card

This applies to foreign nationals with “extraordinary abilities,” “outstanding professors and researchers,” and “certain multinational managers and executives.” The third option, multinational managers and executives, is notably interesting if you are a foreign entrepreneur who holds a managerial position in a U.S. company. In such a case, the U.S. branch of the multinational corporation may sponsor your green card, provided that prior to working in the U.S. entity, you held a managerial or executive position in a foreign division of the multinational corporation for at least one year within three years preceding the green card application.

EB-2 Green Card

A foreign entrepreneur seeking to immigrate permanently to the U.S. may apply for an EB-2 green card if he or she can demonstrate one of the following qualities:

  • He or she has an “exceptional ability” in the area of science, art, or business.
  • He or she holds an advanced degree with five years of work experience in the area of specialty.

Image of a permanent resident card, representing the E-2 to green card immigration path in the U.S.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

The National Interest Waiver (NIW) may be used in connection with an employment opportunity with a U.S. company, or a foreign national may self-petition for a NIW.

A foreign national may request a NIW to become a permanent resident of the U.S. if specific requirements are met. To qualify, you must possess “exceptional ability” in science, art, or business that would benefit the U.S. You must also meet three of the following criteria.

  • You have a degree in an area of exceptional ability.
  • You have10 years of full-time job experience.
  • Your salary or remuneration is commensurate to your exceptional ability.
  • You have a license or a certificate to practice the profession.
  • You are a member of a professional association.
  • Your achievements have been recognized by peers in the industry, by government entities, or by a professional organization.

EB-5 Visa Sponsoring

The EB-5 Visa, also known as the “green card” visa, has been used by wealthy foreign investors to immigrate to the U.S. The EB-5 visa provides a path to eligible foreign national investors to become lawful permanent residents.

To qualify for this visa, the entrepreneur must invest at least $1,000,000 in a business in the U.S. that would employ at least 10 U.S. workers. The amount is reduced to $500,000 if your investment is made in a rural area or area with high unemployment.

Learn More about Immigration Options, from E-2 to Green Card

The array of immigration options and the regulations involved with each of those possibilities can be overwhelming. From the E-2 to green card option and everywhere in, around, and between, an attorney with deep experience in immigration law can help you find the best fit for you, your family, and your business. For all your inquiries about becoming a lawful permanent resident or starting a business in the U.S., please contact Prewitt Law Firm at (+1) 646.583.1206. We specialize in helping entrepreneurs in New York and around the world with U.S. immigration and startup matters.

Russell Brand, US citizen by marriage, now divorced from Katy Perry
Russell Brand, US citizen by marriage, now divorced from Katy Perry
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian Immigrant with Extraordinary Abilities
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Russian Immigrant with Extraordinary Abilities

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