Monthly Archives: May 2013

EB-5 Green Card versus E-2 Visa

Many people have been asking me whether they should apply for an E-2 treaty trader visa or an EB-5 green card. I have previously discussed each one of them in my previous posts below. There are several advantages and disadvantages to each one, which I will outline in this post. Which one is right for you depends on your specific needs and resources.

If your goal is to simply live in the United States, I would recommend an EB-5 green card through a Regional Center. An investment of $500,000.00 gets you and your family an immediate green card without the need to start up a company or to oversee operations.

If your goal is to start up your own business operation, then an E-2 visa would be ideal unless you have a significant amount of money to invest – in which case a $1 million EB-5 green card may be appropriate.

Advantages of an E-2 visa

– Renewable indefinitely

– Smaller investment than and EB-5 green card (as little as $50,000.00 to $250,000.00)

Disadvantages of an E-2 visa

– Money must be substantial and at risk

– No path to permanent residency

– Visa expires upon termination of the business

– Unable to accept income until E-2 is granted; even though you have already put the investment at risk prior to approval

Advantages of an EB-5 green card

– Immediate residency in the U.S.

– Spouse and children under 21 obtain residency under the primary applicant’s investment

– Live, work, travel, study in the United States without any restrictions

– Residency is permanent – generally no expiration

Disadvantages of an EB-5 green card

– Higher investment amount ($500,000.00 to $1 million)

– Investment tied up for extended period of time

L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visas

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Transferring to a U.S. company

The L visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer a manager or an executive from an affiliated foreign office to one of its U.S. offices. The employer must be doing business in the U.S. and it must have an existing relationship with the foreign company (such as being a parent company, affiliate, subsidiary etc.). Furthermore, the employee must have been working for the affiliated employer in the foreign country for at least one continuous year within the three years prior to being issued an L visa, and he/she must be going to the U.S. to render services as a manager/executive. Employees will be granted an initial three-year L visa.

Example: KPMG is an accounting company with offices in Canada and in the United States. Sally is a Canadian citizen who has been working as a financial accounting director for KPMG in its Vancouver offices for the past four years. She has accepted a position to work as a financial accounting director at KPMG in its New York office. She is eligible to work in New York under an L visa.

Example: Sally has only been working as a financial accounting director at KPMG in Vancouver for the past six months. She is not eligible for an L visa to work in the New York office. However, she may be eligible for a TN visa or an H-1B visa if, for example, she is a CPA or has at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field.

Setting up a U.S. affiliate company

The L visa also allows a foreign company that does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a manager/executive to the United States for the purpose of setting one up. To do so, the foreign company must demonstrate that: 1) sufficient physical premises to house the new office have been secured; 2) the employee has been employed as a manager/executive for one of the three previous years; and 3) the new U.S. offices will support an executive/managerial position within a year of the L visa being issued. These employees will be granted an initial one-year L visa. This is an ideal visa for foreign companies looking to expand to the United States and should be considered as an alternative to the E visa.

Family of L visa holders

Employees under an L visa are also allowed to bring their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age to the U.S. under an L-2 classification for the same period of stay as the primary employee. Spouses of L visa holders are allowed to work in the United States as well.

Please click here for more information on the L-1 visa.