Comprehensive Guide to Investor Visas

Foreign nationals interested in investing within the U.S. have different investor visas available. Experienced immigration lawyers in Miami can help.


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Immigrant Investor Visa Options

At the law firm of The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., we work within the bounds of United States immigration law to accomplish immigration goals for our clients. One popular path to obtaining a non-immigrant visa or immigrant visa is through financial investment.

The three main investor visa routes are as follows:

E-2 Visa

EB-5 Visa

L-1 Visa (new office)

Also, there are other options to stay legally in the United States. Learning all immigrant investor visa possibilities and considering the benefits and drawbacks of each before making a decision can be useful for investors and entrepreneurs.

The Difference Between L-1 and E-2 Visas 

If you wish to invest in a United States business, or if you are prepared to expand your company and establish a new office in the U.S., then the L-1 and E-2 visas are worthy of your consideration. While the EB-5 differs in that it is an immigrant visa with a longer processing time, both the L-1 Visa and E-2 Visa can be obtained within a few months.

In general, although the L-1 and E-2 visa classifications are intended for investors, there are some essential differences between the two classes. The best way to distinguish which visa is more suitable to your needs, is to understand the differences presented below.


L-1 Visa

E-2 Visa

1 Year Start Up visa, otherwise usually three

5 Year Visa

Active Management Required

Develop and Direct the Business

Rigid Presence in the U.S.

Flexible Presence in the U.S.

No Investment Treaty

Investment Treaty Needed

Source of Funds Review and Proof of Sufficient Funds

Source and Path of Funds Scrutiny

Direct Path to Green Card (“Dual Intent”)

No Direct Path to Green Card

English Proficiency

English Proficiency

Maximum 7 years

Renewable Indefinitely

Managerial/Executive(Experience Abroad of 1 year in the last 3 years).

No Previous Management Required

Expand your business

Invest in a new business

Bear in mind that, in order to be eligible for either an E-1 or E-2 visa, you must enter the U.S. from a treaty country with the intent to do either:

  • Engage in substantial trade in technology or services or in qualifying activities between the U.S. and the treaty country (E-1), or
  • Direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant investor has invested a substantial amount of capital (E-2).

What Is EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers the EB-5 Program. Under this program, entrepreneurs  (as well as their spouses and unmarried children younger than 21) can apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

* Make the necessary investment in a commercial business enterprise in the U.S. and

* Create 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.

However, these full-time jobs must be created within two years. In addition to U.S. citizens, workers can include lawful permanent residents, or other immigrants authorized to work in the United States. Investors, their spouses, or daughters or sons can’t be included.

According to the USCIS website, investors must make a qualifying investment to qualify for the EB-5 program. These investments can include a minimum investment of at least $900,000 or $1.8 million. They can invest in commercial enterprises associated with a targeted employment area approved by USCIS.

In order to boost the American economy through the development of jobs and capital investments by foreign investors, Congress established the EB-5 Program in 1990. The Regional Center Program, commonly known as the Immigrant Investor Program, was established by Congress in 1992. This sets aside EB-5 visas for participants who make investments in businesses connected to regional centers that USCIS has approved based on plans for fostering economic growth.

While the above E-2 Visa and L-1 Visa are temporary non-immigrant visas, the EB-5 is an immigrant visa that provides for two-year conditional permanent residency in the United States. 

At the expiration of two years, the investor will need to apply to remove the condition via an I-829 petition filed with USCIS. The form is officially called the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. It has to be filed within 90 days of the green card expiration date.  

Business Plan is the Key

When applying for a business investment visa (EB-5, L-1, or E-2 Visa), whether expanding or starting a business in the United States, a well-done immigration-oriented business plan can be critical. This is especially the case with smaller businesses that have lower revenues or lower numbers of employees. New businesses are also entities for which both USCIS and Consular Officers expect a detailed business plan laying out the growth strategy of the firm in the United States.

How Can We Help?

The immigration visa system is complicated, and other nonimmigrant visas may also be suitable for your case. Consultation with an experienced immigration attorney can be beneficial, regardless of your situation.

need help from a South Florida immigration lawyer?

> CONTACT The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A.


66 W Flagler St 9th Floor, Miami, Florida 33130

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