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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

Non-immigrant vs. Immigrant Visa

The EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa program that allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency (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

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 (green card) in the United States. The duration of the stay is not limited.

E-2 visa Eligibility Criteria

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 in relation 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.

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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