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The EB-5 Immigrant Investor visa and the E-2 visa are both investment-based immigration programs available in the United States, but they have key differences in terms of eligibility requirements, purpose, investment amount, and duration. Here are the main distinctions between the two:

Non-immigrant vs. Immigrant Visa

EB-5 visa Vs. E-2 visa

The EB-5 visa is an immigrant investor visa program that allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency and citizenship by investment (EB-5 green card) in the United States. The primary purpose of the EB-5 visa program is to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment. On the contrary, the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows individuals from certain treaty countries to come to the United States to develop and manage an enterprise in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital. The E-2 visa is intended for individuals who wish to run a business in the U.S. but do not have the objective of obtaining permanent residency.

Eligibility Criteria for EB-5 visa vs. E-2 visa

Eligibility Criteria for EB-5 visa vs. E-2 visa

EB-5 visa Eligibility Criteria

Minimum investment amount: To qualify for the EB-5 visa, an investor is generally required to make a minimum qualifying investment of USD $800,000 in a new commercial enterprise. 

Nationality requirement: The EB-5 visa is available to investors from any country, without restrictions based on nationality.

Job creation requirement: To qualify for the EB-5 visa, the investor must create or preserve a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.

Duration of stay: The EB-5 visa grants conditional permanent residency initially, and after meeting certain requirements, the investor and their immediate family members can obtain unconditional permanent residency and citizenship by investment (green card) in the United States. The duration of the stay is not limited.

Timeline: The timeline for obtaining an EB-5 immigration visa can vary based on individual circumstances and processing times. Generally, the process involves several steps, including filing the I-526 petition, waiting for its approval, obtaining a visa number, submitting the visa application, attending a consular interview (if applying from outside the U.S.), and then receiving conditional permanent residency upon approval. The entire process can take several years, with I-526 processing times and visa number availability being significant factors. Delays may also occur due to background checks, additional documentation requests, or changes in immigration policies.

Work Authorization: With an EB-5 investor visa, individuals initially receive conditional permanent residency upon approval of the I-526 petition. During the conditional residency period, which is typically two years, EB-5 visa holders are eligible to work in the United States. To continue working beyond the initial two-year period, individuals must file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to obtain a work permit. This work permit allows EB-5 visa holders, along with their dependents, to legally work in the U.S. while awaiting the removal of conditions on their permanent residency. It’s crucial to file for the work authorization renewal and to maintain compliance with the terms and conditions of the EB-5 program throughout the process. After the conditions are removed and full permanent residency is granted, individuals can work and live in the U.S. without the need for a separate work authorization document.

E-2 visa Eligibility Criteria

Minimum investment amount: The E-2 visa does not have a fixed minimum investment amount. Instead, the investment must be considered “substantial” and must be sufficient to establish and operate the intended business. The investment amount should be significant to the total cost of purchasing or establishing the business set out and submitted in the investor’s business plan.

Nationality requirement: Not all countries are eligible for the E-2 visa. The E-2 visa is only available to nationals of certain treaty countries that have a bilateral investment treaty or commerce and navigation treaty with the United States, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Argentina, Pakistan, and Ethiopia to name a few. In total 70 countries are eligible for the E-2 visa (full list here), common countries with no treaty with the US for the E2 Visa include India, China, Vietnam, Kenya, and UAE.

Job creation requirement: The E-2 visa does not have a specific job creation requirement. However, the investment should be made to develop and operate a business that will generate income and contribute to the U.S. economy.

Duration of stay: The E-2 visa allows for a temporary stay in the United States, with the initial visa validity ranging from a few months to five years, depending on the treaty country. The visa can be renewed as long as the investor continues to meet the requirements, including the operation of the business.

Timeline: The timeline to obtain an EB-2 visa can vary based on individual circumstances and the processing times of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the application is submitted. Generally, the process involves several steps. After the investor identifies and invests in a qualifying U.S. business, they must submit the EB-2 visa application to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The timeline for visa processing can range from a few weeks to a few months, depending on factors such as the embassy’s workload, the complexity of the case, and any additional administrative processing required. Once approved, the investor can enter the U.S. to develop and oversee their investment. It’s important to note that EB-2 visas are typically granted for a specific period, often renewable, as long as the qualifying investment and business operations continue.

Work Authorization: The process for obtaining work authorization with an EB-2 visa involves several steps. Initially, individuals must go through the labor certification process to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. Once the labor certification is obtained, the employer files Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, which, when approved, establishes eligibility for an immigrant visa. Subsequently, individuals can apply for adjustment of status or go through consular processing, depending on their location. If in the U.S. and applying for adjustment of status, they may concurrently file Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization, enabling them to work while the green card application is pending. It’s crucial to note that the specific details of the process can vary, and individuals should seek guidance from an immigration attorney to navigate the complexities of the EB-2 visa application and understand the nuances of work authorization during the process.

Also Read: Old vs New EB-5 Immigration


It’s important to note that the EB-5 visa has a direct path to permanent residency, while the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa without a direct route to a green card. Individuals interested in these visas should consult with Eb-5 immigration attorneys or experts for personalized advice based on their specific circumstances and goals.

Immigration Consultancy in Dubai

Immigration Consultancy in Dubai

Step Global is a immigration consultancy in Dubai headquartered in Dubai, managed by award-winning US lawyer Preeya Malik, with over 13 years of experience in the EB-5 investment visa industry. The Step Global team along with their US legal teams have helped thousands of families in the GCC, Pakistan, India and Africa immigrating to the United States through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. Step Global can also provide guidance on other immigration visas by investment such as the Portugal Golden Visa and the Canada Start-Up Visa.


As with the EB-5 visa, the investor applying for an E-2 visa must have acquired the funds from lawful and traceable sources such as personal savings, investment earnings, gifts, inheritance, etc.

Through the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, EB-5 investors first receive their conditional green card, which offers all of the same benefits as a regular green card, but with a validity of two years only. To remove conditions, the EB-5 investor must file the I-829 petition in order to receive the unconditional green card.

Congress created the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act (RIA) of March 2022 confirmed the continuity of the program at least until September 30, 2027.

Yes, there are two ways the E-2 visa can be obtained. It’s possible to do the application while the investor is in the United States or outside of the country.

No, the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that prohibits the visa holder from having an intent to immigrate to the United States. Therefore, the E-2 visa does not provide an individual with a direct pathway to permanent residency. An E-2 visa holder would need to apply through another immigrant program in order to obtain a green card (such as EB-5 or EB1-C.

No, it is not required to have a lawyer to apply for an EB-5 visa or E-2 visa. However, an experienced lawyer and expert in EB-5 or E-2 visas will guide you through a process that can take many years and involves numerous, often complex, requirements, thereby giving you the best chances for success on your application.

As of now, the EB-5 visa Program is still operating and no announcement of ending the program any time in the near future has been made.

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