Despite the internal and geopolitical turmoil of the past few years. The United States remains the premiere choice of resettlement for citizens from around the world. Immigrating to the U.S. is divided into two broad categories, either as a nonimmigrant or immigrant.
The nonimmigrant route is either through employment or investment.
The immigrant route is either through family, and again, employment, or investment.
The focus of today’s blog is on the investment path and how you can combine the E-2 investor visa with an EB-2 NIW green card.
E-2 Investor Visa
The “nonimmigrant” investment option is the treaty investor visa, more commonly referred to as an E-2 visa. The E-2 visa is by far the most efficient method of relocating to the United States.
E-2 Visa Eligibility
To qualify the applicant must be a national of a select group of countries, invest a sum that is sufficient to get an “enterprise” functional, or purchase an existing one, and create job opportunity(s) for Americans. In the hands of a skilled attorney, applications for E2 visas are routinely approved at a high rate (90%+).
Visit our E2 visa page for more detailed information about this visa option and view the vast array of businesses that can qualify as a treaty enterprise.
Note that the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning the applicant cannot stay in the U.S. “forever” but can only stay as long as their business remains operational. Therefore, most E-2 visa investors seek a green card.
EB-5 Visa (Green Card)
The investor green card category is the EB-5 visa which requires a $500,000 investment ($1,000,000 outside of certain areas) and creation of 10 full-time American jobs.
We know that $500,000 is financially out of reach for many investors.
Luckily there are less expensive routes to securing a green card depending on your professional background and U.S. business activity.
EB-2 Green Card
The second option for the immigrant route is divided into two subcategories, those that require testing of the local labor market so as not to displace US workers, and those that do not require a local labor market test.
Normally the EB-2, either as an advanced degree professional or extraordinary ability alien, requires a local labor market test. However, an exception is carved out for aliens whose presence is in the “national interests” of the United States which is called the National Interest Waiver or NIW.
EB-2 Visa for Entrepreneurs (National Interest Waiver)
The NIW is a creature of statute, however, the courts have throughout the years fine-tuned its application to its current state today. The seminal case on the application of the NIW is Matter of Dhanasar 26 I&N Dec. 884 (AAO 2016). The Court in Dhanasar stated for an alien EB-2 application to be exempt from the local labor market test, the applicant must satisfy 3 criteria:
- The foreign national’s proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance.
- That he or she is well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and
- That, on balance, it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements.
Most Important Factors for EB-2 Visa
Substantial Merit and National Interests blend together with National Interests being the more important of the two. If something is of the national interest, it will automatically be substantially important, but the reverse is not always the case. Having one’s endeavor (business investment) be deemed to promote the national interest, essentially is that the endeavor appeals broadly to and positively promotes economic, societal, or political interests. In simpler terms, does it promote, enhance, advance, or progress the U.S. in any significant way.
EB-2 Visa Business Examples with strong NIW potential
EB-2 businesses include endeavors that promote environmentally friendly technologies (solar power, wind energy, etc.) or creating job opportunities in economically depressed areas.
The EB-2 category can also be applied to franchise opportunities such as in Healthcare or STEM education for children. Starting a healthcare-related franchise in a medically underserved area is a textbook example of promoting the national interests of the United States, as does a STEM education franchise, promoting enhanced learning of Math & Science for US children.
How is the EB-2 Investor Positioned for Success?
The Well Positioning of the applicant (2 nd element of Dhanasar) refers to how prepared is the alien to make the endeavor a success. Factors such as business experience and education are favorable. A very important factor that weighs favorably on the eligibility for the NIW is a detailed plan of implementing the successful opening and operation of the endeavor; detailed documentation of the steps taken, and steps that remain to be done with a plan of how they will be executed. This exercise is greatly enhanced with acquiring a well-established and industry
recognizable franchise, whose franchisor has established procedures to ensure that their franchisees succeed.
Hundreds of EB-2 Visa Eligible Businesses
The On-Balance exercise (3rd element of Dhanasar) to waive the labor market test is akin to substantial merit, i.e., if the endeavor strongly promotes the National Interest of the US, the “balance” will tip positively in favor of the applicant.
Although the NIW route and the E-2 route are different pathway for residing in the U.S., immigrant and nonimmigrant respectively, they can both be implemented through buying a franchise.
Both the E-2 and EB-2 NIW visas can be approved with far less capital than the EB-5 visa ($500,000).
The E-2 visa proves to be an important bridge for entrepreneurs moving to the U.S. while the EB-2 can provide the permanent green card solution for select E-2 visa investors.
We are experts at assisting investors in making the right choice for their budget and business interests. We work in parallel with some of the leading U.S. immigration attorneys to make the investors American Dream a reality.
Reach out to us today to see if you are eligible to be a Visa Franchise client.
We’d like to thank immigration attorney, Pardeep Singh, for his contributions and legal insights on the different visa options for entrepreneurs for this blog post. Pardeep can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Linkedin.