Does an E2 Visa Lead to a Green Card?

The E2 investor visa is a program for investors originating from E treaty countries to own and operate their own business in the USA. The E2 visa offers several advantages, including:

  • Relatively Low Investment Amount: E2 visas can typically be approved with an investment of only $100,000 USD.
  • Faster Processing Times: The processing time for an E2 visa is typically one to three months, depending on the country you are applying from.
  • Ability to Bring Family: Upon approval, visa holders can bring their spouse and children under age 21 to live with them in the USA.
  • Work Permit for Spouse: The spouse of an E2 visa holder automatically receives work authorization upon approval. This gives couples the potential for an additional income stream after settling in the United States.
  • Flexibility for Children Attending School: Children of E2 visa holders (under age 21) can attend the school of their choice, and in some states, they even qualify for in-state college tuition.
  • Unlimited Renewals: E2 visas are valid for a period of two to five years (depending on your country of origin) and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business you have invested in is still viable.

Though the E2 visa offers many advantages for foreign investors, it is not a direct path to permanent residency (green card) status. There are, however, several indirect paths visa holders can take to obtain a green card, here are some of the most common:

Family-Based Petitions

If an E2 holder has family members living in the United States, it may be possible to apply for adjustment of status to permanent residency under a family-based petition. Waiting times for family-based immigration petitions vary widely depending on your sponsoring family member’s status (permanent resident or citizen), your relationship with your family member and your country of origin. Spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens are in the highest preference categories, while brothers and sisters (over age 21) of U.S. citizens are in the lowest categories. Processing times for the highest preference categories may only be several months to a couple years, while processing times in the lowest preference categories could be up to 20 years or longer.

Employment-Based Petitions

For the E2 visa holder, outside employment is generally not an option. The E2 investor can only do work directly related to the business he/she invested in. However, because spouses can work anywhere they want, the spouse of an E2 holder could be sponsored for permanent residency by a U.S. employer. Employment visas are complex and take several months or longer to process. However, a U.S. company is far more likely to sponsor a foreign national if he/she is already working for them and proven their worth. This makes employment-based petitions a popular potential path from E2 visa to green card holder.

EB5 Immigrant Visa

For E2 investors that want a green card and have the financial capability to invest $500,000 to $1 million in a U.S.-based enterprise, the EB5 investor visa can be the ideal companion to the E2. The EB5 is a more complex program with annual caps and processing times of up to two years or longer. The strategy for high net worth investors that want to come to the U.S. right away but want to eventually gain permanent residence is to start out with an E2 visa, then after settling in the U.S., apply and begin the process for the EB5. Coordinating these two visa programs can be a bit tricky, however, so it is recommended that you consult an experienced immigration lawyer.

How Can I Ensure Approval of My E2 Visa?

There are several requirements that must be met to be eligible for the E2 investor visa. For starters, the investment must be “substantial”, meaning in the $100,000 USD range. In addition, you must prove that you obtained funding for your investment legally. You may finance a portion of your investment and/or obtain the money from family or friends, but you must demonstrate that these sources are legitimate. Other requirements include a minimum of 50% ownership in the business, a detailed five year business plan, and investment in an enterprise that is not considered “marginal”. Examples of marginal businesses may include multi-level marketing schemes and other home-based marketing ventures.

One of the best ways to ensure your business will meet the requirements of the USCIS is to invest in an established U.S. franchise. Franchise business opportunities are ideal for the E2 visa because the companies are known to the officer reviewing your case, they provide the detailed business plan you need, and they also provide unmatched training and support to put you in the best possible position to succeed. There are literally hundreds of franchise brands across a wide range of industries for foreign investors to choose from. To find the right E2 franchise business to fit your passion, skills and budget, it best to work with a franchise broker.

At Franchise City, we have access to over 600 of the top U.S. franchise brands. Through a proven multi-step program, we work hand in hand with foreign investors to find the ideal franchise for their needs. Our unlimited consulting services are 100% free of charge, and we provide the counsel and support you need to make a truly informed decision.


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