Pros & Cons of the E-2 Investment Visa with Jinhee Wilde – Episode 101
The increase in minimum investment for EB-5 and the program’s issues with retrogression have led to increasing interest in the E-2 program. On this episode, Mona and Mark are joined by Jinhee Wilde to discuss who is eligible for the E-2 investor visa and how long they can stay in the US. Listen in for insight around the pros and cons of E-2 and learn about the most common reasons for E-2 denials.
The increase in minimum investment for EB-5 coupled with the program’s issues around backlog and retrogression have prompted a rise in interest in the E-2 visa. So, how exactly does E-2 differ from EB-5? What are the pros and cons of coming to the US on E-2? And is there a path for E-2 investors to secure a green card?
Jinhee Wilde is the Principal Attorney of WA Law Group, and she is consistently named among the Top 25 immigration lawyers in the country. Jinhee has 32 years of legal experience, serving as a prosecutor for the city of Chicago and special counsel for the US Department of Agriculture before starting her own practice. On this episode of EB-5 Investment Voice, Jinhee joins Mona and Mark to discuss the pros and cons of the E-2 program, explaining who is eligible for the E-2 visa and how long the E-2 investor can stay in the US.
Jinhee walks us through some of the drawbacks of the E-2 visa, addressing the possibility of termination for travel ban countries and the restrictions around working for the sponsor business. She also shares the common reasons for E-2 denials, explaining why the investor must demonstrate control of the business, articulate their relevant education and experience, and track their source of funds. Listen in to understand why E-2 visa holders must file an immigrant petition to obtain a green card and learn how investors can make the transition from E-2 to EB-5.
Eligibility for the E-2 Visa
- With the increase in minimum investment for EB-5 and several countries in retrogression, the E-2 investment visa has grown in popularity. But the countries subject to retrogression don’t have E-2 treaties with the US.
- For immigrant investors in retrogression to apply for E-2, they must obtain citizenship in a treaty country like Grenada or Turkey and THEN apply for an E-2 visa in the US. Jinhee does not advocate for this option because of the extra steps, the extra cost, and the fact that the process is relatively untested.
The Temporary Nature of E-2
- An investor can remain in the US on an E-2 visa as long as the business is operational, but the E-2 is NOT permanent. And when the visa comes up for renewal, the investor must demonstrate that they are executing on the business plan.
- E-2 investors are more likely to have their visa renewed if the business has grown and employs US workers. It is important to show USCIS or the consulate your commitment to invest in the US, especially at European posts where high-level government staff is in tune with the direction of the Trump administration.
The Disadvantages of E-2
- One disadvantage of the E-2 program is that it can be revoked. Though this is rare, Iranian nationals recently had their E-2 visas terminated, and as more countries are added to the travel ban list, it is not out of the realm of possibility for investors from other countries to have their E-2 visas canceled.
- Another drawback of the E-2 visa is that the investor is restricted to working for the sponsoring business. Dependents, on the other hand, are eligible for employment authorization documents (EAD) and can work outside the E-2 business.
- The E-2 investor IS permitted to bring their family to the US. However, it is important to remember that once the investor’s children turn 21, they no longer qualify as dependents.
Common Reasons for E-2 Denials
- To avoid denial, the E-2 applicant must demonstrate that they control the business. This means that they must own at least 50% of the entity AND maintain both operational and financial control. (The E-2 is an entrepreneurial visa, and passive investments do not qualify.)
- The E-2 can also be denied if the applicant does not seem qualified to run the business. The venture must be managed by the investor themselves, and it is crucial that they articulate their relevant experience and/or education.
- Another common reason for E-2 denial is an acceptable use of capital. The investor cannot simply buy a building and let the money sit but must show that the funds are being used to operate the business.
- Much like EB-5, the E-2 investor must track their source of funds. Jinhee advises clients not to use someone else’s money for an E-2 investment if it can be avoided and only take out loans that have been collateralized. If the investor does plan to use a gift from a relative or friend, they must provide source of funds tracking.
From E-2 to Green Card
- While the EB-5 is an immigrant visa category, the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa. This means that if the E-2 visa holder wants to obtain a green card, they are required to file an immigrant petition.
- Though the E-2 visa holder cannot show dual intent upon filing, it is possible to do an E-2 to EB-5 petition. Moreover, the profits from an E-2 business can be used for EB-5 if the investor pays themselves (as the foreign national) and reinvests those funds through EB-5.