If I get E-2 visa, can it lead me to a green card?

Depends on what you mean by “lead”. There is no visa or status that automatically leads to a green card. There is a common misperception about this. For example, an H-1B status does not “lead” to a green-card through employment. In fact, you do not need an H-1B status to have your potential employer sponsor you for employment-based green card. There are basis and procedures for non-immigrant visas, such as H-1B, E-2, L-1, and there are separate basis and procedures to apply for green card, such as employment-based green card process, family petitions, business, investment, outstanding abilities etc. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows entrepreneurs and their families to live in the United States and manage their businesses. You can renew E-2 status continuously in every 2 years. While you are on E-2 status, you can apply for green card through all available options such as investment (EB-5), employment (PERM), family petitions, extraordinary ability, national interest waiver and so on.

Here are the common ways, listed in the order of frequency, through which many of our E-2 clients eventually adjust their status in the US and become US permanent residents:

  1. The E-2 visa holder can be sponsored for employment-based green card by a potential employer who is able and willing to offer a permanent job to the E-2 visa holder.
  2. PERM for E-2 Spouse. Spouses of E-2 visa holders are eligible for work permit, also known as Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD allows the dependent spouse of E-2 principal to work for any employer at any job. Quite often, after some time of employment, the E-2 spouse’s employer decides to sponsor the employee through PERM process and, in turn, all family members of the E-2 visa holder adjusts status to permanent residency in the United States and get their green cards.
  3. Additional Investment – EB-5. As we know, the E-2 visa requires around $100,000 and, sometimes, even smaller investment. In other words, it is for smaller businesses. But as the business grows and expands, the E-2 investor may decide to inject more money ($500K/$1mln) into the business, thereby enabling business to hire 10 or more employees. If that happens, the E-2 investor may now be able to apply for green card through the EB-5 investment program.
  4. Exceptional/Outstanding Skills. If the E-2 investor’s business is so successful and innovative that it impacts the industry or field in which the E-2 investor operates, then he or she may be eligible to apply for green card based on National Interest Waiver or Extraordinary Abilities.
  5. Family Petitions. Some E-2 investors have US citizen siblings or parents. Or they may end up getting married in the US or their children may naturalize through one way or another. If that happens, naturally, the US citizen relative can sponsor the E-2 investor for green card. Some of family-based petitions take many years of waiting in line. For example, a green card process through US citizen sibling can take 12-15 years. The beneficiaries of family-sponsored preference categories who are waiting for priority dates to become current need to have some type of independent non-immigrant status during that time to be able to live and work in the US while waiting. E-2 is a good status which enables the waiting family status to live and work in the US while waiting for their family-based petition’s priority date.

There are multiple other options one can become a lawful permanent resident. E-2 status does not preclude you from exploring all those options while you are in the US. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a great tool for entrepreneurs and businessmen to establish and run their businesses in the US. It is often the first step in realizing your American Dream. For more information of obtaining E-2 visa, starting your business in the US, or applying for green card, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].