Entering the U.S. is easier through an E-2 visa than the EB-5 visa

Entering the U.S. is easier through an E-2 visa than the EB-5 visa

Entering the U.S. is easier through an E-2 visa than the EB-5 visa


Securing a US green card through the EB-5 visa is set to become more tedious and expensive this year (the current stream stands at about US$500,000 and is expected to go up to US$1.6 million this year). Is it time to look beyond EB-5?


E-2 basics:


  • When a national from a treaty country invests a “substantial amount of capital” into a business in the US, the E-2 visa allows the applicant and their family to enter the US.
    • Though the “substantial amount of capital” is not very clearly defined, an amount equivalent to US$300,000 is normally considered acceptable.


  • The applicant then gets the choice of investing into a totally new business, acquire an existing business or as in most cases, they can also open a franchise
  • Where the E-5 takes a long time to process, the E-2 gets processed in a couple of weeks.
    • This E-2 is a more viable option, especially for investors to enter the US, instead of waiting for the E-5.


  • The E-2 is classified a nonimmigrant visa which essentially translates to where it allows the shortlisted investors to enter U.S. territory only on a temporary basis.
  • They cannot become permanent residents at any point of time (without being subject to worldwide taxation).
  • Duly authorised E-2 visa holders are allowed a two-year’s initial stay with subsequent incremental extensions of two years each.
    • In addition, there’s no limit to the E-2 extensions for nonimmigrants.

Treaty country:


  • A country that holds a commerce and navigation treaty (treaty of commerce and navigation) with the US is deemed a treaty country.
  • Currently, more than 80 countries have this treaty with the US, with Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom and Grenada being a few examples.

How to become a Treaty Investor:


  • To qualify for a Treaty investor, the applicant should be from a treaty
  • S/he either should have already invested or actively be in the process of investing a “substantial amount of capital” in a legal enterprise in the US.
  • S/he should have the sole purpose of developing and directing the business enterprise.
    • In addition, the investor either should own 50% of the enterprise or hold a top management/corporate position in the enterprise.


Choice of Investment:


  • S. franchising is a very valid, diverse and a rapidly growing model for the willing E-2 visa investor.
  • This model presents a comparatively low level of risk as a franchise normally has a good brand recognition/reputation to start with, and an already seasoned business model to boot.
  • They also provide support in terms of actual site-selection, opening, training, development, vendor management, operational assistance and marketing support.




There are nearly 5,000 brands in the US that offer franchise (about 795,000 units), containing 21 million jobs worth US$ 2.3 trillion.


  • Though the E-2 visa requires the applicant to invest a “substantial amount of capital”, the amount the franchisees’ invest will vary significantly depending on the type of operation, operational location and such variables.
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