The EB-5 fifth preference visa is considered to be the fastest way to obtain permanent residency in the United States based on employment. The main requirement is to invest one million U.S. dollars (or $500,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)) into a new enterprise in the U.S. and create a minimum of 10 full-time jobs. Although it allows immigrating to the United States on a permanent basis, together with family and children (under age of 21), not every investor can afford it.
Alternatives to the EB-5 visa are the L-1 and E-2 visas, which for some individuals, may be considered to be a more realistic option than the EB-5 program.
L-1, Intracompany Transferee Executive and Manager
If an overseas company has a branch, affiliate or a parent company in the U.S., the executive personnel may be transferred to the U.S. If the company does not exist in the U.S. yet, an executive or manager may consider opening a startup office in the U.S. in order to transfer employees. The main requirement to qualify for the L-1 visa, is that the applicant should have worked for the overseas company for at least one continuous year within the three years prior to transferring to the U.S. in an executive, managerial or specialized knowledge capacity.
Compared to the EB-5 program, the L-1 requires a significantly lower investment amount, if opening a new office or branch in the U.S., and does not require a certain amount of jobs to be created. Furthermore, L-1 holders may file for permanent residence under the EB-1-3 categories.
E-2, Treaty Investor
To be eligible for an E-2 visa, the applicant’s country of residency must be part of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the United States. The full list of Treaty Countries can be found here. The E-2 visa is approved for up to 5 years (depending on the country), although it can be renewed. There is no fixed amount that needs to be invested in the business; however, it must be substantial to what the business needs. Although the E-2 visa does not provide green cards to its holders, it allows self-employment and a long-term stay in the United States for a smaller investment amount compared to the EB-5.
Want to learn more about EB-5 alternatives? Contact our attorneys.