As an E2 treaty investor, you may be considering a green card so you can stay in the U.S. for a longer period of time. Fortunately, there are several options for permanent U.S. residency from an E2 visa. However, there are a few hurdles and loopholes to navigate, and the process can prove a bit bumpy at times. In the information below, we’ll provide an in-depth guide of options for the E2 visa to green card process that will help you to get started on your pathway to immigration today.
Basics of the E2 Visa Green Card Process
When seeking permanent residency in the U.S., there are two main areas you’ll have to tackle:
- You will need a qualified company, organization, or person to file your immigration petition with USCIS on your behalf.
- Once your petition is approved, you will need to apply for your green card either at a U.S. embassy in your home country or at an immigration office in the United States.
You may petition for a green card either through family-based immigration or employment-based immigration.
Understanding Dual Intent
As an E2 investor visa holder, you are required to show intent to return to your country of citizenship once your visa expires. However, U.S. law also allows something called dual intent. Dual intent states that while you have intentions of returning to your country, you may also have simultaneous intentions of pursuing permanent residency through legal means. This concept can be difficult to understand, and dual intent applicants often face difficulties when applying for a green card. However, a qualified immigration attorney will be able to help you prove dual intent to U.S. immigration services and obtain your green card.
Usually, people who have been approved for a temporary immigration visa may obtain a green card by applying for a change of status or, if they are not yet living in the U.S., by applying for an immigrant visa stamp at their country’s U.S. embassy. Applying for a green card through change of status is preferable because it allows you to have an attorney present during your interview, gives you better appeal rights, and allows you to stay in the U.S. during the process.
Unfortunately, if you are an E2 nonimmigrant, regulations state that you may not petition for a green card through adjustment of status. However, there is a way to work around this roadblock.
Because the E2 treaty trader program was created in order to promote trade between foreign countries and the U.S., it grants specific legal rights to E2 nonimmigrants. You may be allowed to apply for an adjustment of status if you waive these rights via Form I-508 (Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities). However, be forewarned that waiving your rights may affect tax liability, benefits, and other agreements between the U.S. and your country of citizenship. In order to fully understand the consequences, it is important that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer prior to waiving these rights.
Family-Based E2 Visa Green Card Process
You may be eligible for green card sponsorship through family-based immigration if you have a family member who is already a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. For this process, you will need to apply for change of status. However, if your family member files a green card petition on your behalf, you will not lose your E2 status.
Employment-Based E2 Visa to Green Card Process
You may also be eligible for a green card through sponsorship by a qualified U.S. employer. Because of dual intent, you will be allowed to remain in the U.S. and work while your employer petitions for your permanent status. However, employment-based immigration is much more difficult than just going out and finding a new job.
First, your potential employer may be required to complete the “Labor Certification” process prior to hiring you. The process, monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor, requires a company to perform recruitment efforts for your potential position. This entails job advertisements and even interviews with other qualified candidates who are U.S. citizens. The purpose of this process is to prove that there are no American citizens who are willing and able to perform the job you wish to fill.
Both the application process for your green card and the Labor Certification process can take up to three months each. Since you are only eligible to remain in the U.S. for two years while under E2 status, you should begin these processes early enough to allow ample time for completion.
If the E2 visa does not work for you, you may also apply for employment-based immigration through EB1 classification. This particular visa petition is for “Multinational Managers or Executives” and “Aliens of Extraordinary Ability.” Additionally, there is the National Interest Waiver--this waiver is designed for foreign nationals whose knowledge and abilities could greatly benefit the United States. However, these options are incredibly competitive and it can be very difficult to prove your eligibility.
Self-Petitioning for the E2 Visa Green Card Process
If you are an intending immigrant as well as an employer, you may not petition for an employment-based green card for yourself or others. However your E2 status allows you to enter the U.S. to work on U.S. business investments, and the business in which you invest may file a petition for you. Unfortunately, if you are an owner or director within the business, it can be difficult to prove that you are not the petitioner who is acting through that business.
EB5 to Green Card
If you are an E2 investor, you may have enough enough capital to qualify for an EB5 investment. The EB5 visa requires you to invest $500,000 to $1,000,000 USD in a U.S. business that will create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for American citizens and/or permanent residents. In order to make an investment of only $500,000 USD, you will need to invest in an rural or high-unemployment area--for the latter, the rate would need to be 150% higher than the national average.
From EB5, you may be qualified for permanent residency through change of status. However, it is important to note that the U.S. government carefully monitors EB5 investments in order to minimize fraud. While the qualifications for the EB5 program may seem simple to achieve, upholding all requirements can prove difficult. If you wish to gain permanent resident status through this program, you should consult an immigration lawyer.
Conclusion and Other Options for Permanent Residency
While there are many options for obtaining a green card from EB2 status, they may not be the best options for you. If this is the case, there are a variety of other possibilities that may better suit your needs. A competent business or immigration lawyer will be able to walk you through all the options for permanent residency and select the route that works best for you. For more information on U.S. permanent residency and other immigration information, contact the experts at Katz Law Office, Ltd. today for a free consultation.
None of the advice contained in these materials serves as a substitute for individualized legal representation by a licensed attorney with experience in the practice area.