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What are the Differences between an E-2 Visa and an EB-5 Direct Investment?

By February 4, 2021March 23rd, 2022E-2 Visa, EB-5 Visa, Immigration, Investor Visas

An E-2 visa is a visa that is available to entrepreneurs who want to buy or start a business in the U.S.  The E-2 visa requires an investment, and the business must also create U.S. jobs.  The visa can be granted for up to 5 years and can be renewed indefinitely.  You can find all of the E-2 visa requirements by clicking here.

An EB-5 visa is a green card that is available to entrepreneurs who want to invest in a business in the U.S.  Like the E-2 visa, the EB-5 business must also create U.S. jobs.  You can find out more about the EB-5 requirements by clicking here.

The E-2 and EB-5 visas have some similarities, but the two are quite different.  This article summarizes many of the differences between an E-2 Visa and EB-5 green card.


Topic/Question E-2 Visa EB-5 Visa
How long is the visa issued for? Up to 5 years and can be renewed indefinitely. This is a green card and is initially granted for 2 years. After 2 years, you must submit another application showing that you have hired workers and then the green card will be issued for 10 years.
How much do you have to invest? The E-2 visa does not have a specific amount that must be invested. Investments are normally at least $100,000 but can be less. $800,000 or $1,050,000.  If the business is in what is called a TEA (Targeted Employment Area – rural area or an area with high unemployment) then the amount is $800,000.
How many jobs must be created? The E-2 visa does not have a specific number of employees that must be hired.  Normally, after 5 years, the Government would expect to see at least the equivalent of 3 full-time employees. 10 full-time Jobs have to be created for an EB-5 visa.
Are there any specific requirements related to who can be hired? No. As long as the person is legally permitted to work, they can be hired. Also, the workers can be independent contractors, part-time, and do not have to be U.S. citizens or green card holders. Yes.  You must hire full-time workers (35 hours a week) who are citizens or green card holders.  This excludes contractors and part-time employees.
Can I get the visa if I purchase a business? Yes.  An E-2 investor can buy an existing business and pay the seller for the business. No. An EB-5 visa will almost never work if you purchase a business as the money has to be invested in the business to create the jobs.  As such, if you bought a business, the investor would have to pay the seller and then invest another $800,000 or $1,050,000 in the business to create 10 new U.S. jobs.
Do you need a business plan? Yes, but there are no specific requirements for the business plan. Yes, but there are specific requirements. The plan must be credible and follow the guidelines set out in Matter of Ho.
Do you have to show where the money came from? Yes. The E-2 visa has a source of funds requirement, but it is much less stringent than EB-5.  Normally, we submit very minimal information related to source of funds. Yes. The EB-5 source of funds requirement is extremely complex.  You must show where the money came from in great detail and this section of the petition is often hundreds of pages.
Does the investment have to come from the entrepreneur? No. The investment can be made by a company or other people. Yes. The investment must be a personal investment from the entrepreneur.
What are the ownership requirements? The E-2 investor must own 50% of the business. No specific number related to ownership, but the entrepreneur must have some type of equity.

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