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E2 Visa to Green Card Conversion Guide for Singaporeans

E2 visa to green card

An E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows a foreign national from a qualified treaty country to enter the U.S. to direct and develop their substantial investment. Compared to other visas, the E2 visa is not considered a dual intent visa and doesn’t confer lawful permanent residency to the visa holder.

There is an instance, however, that you may want to acquire permanent residency status while you’re in the U.S. after living there for a while under your valid E2 status, and this visa is not a direct route to a green card, you would need to consider alternative paths to acquire a green card.

E2 visa is not a dual intent visa

It is a misconception to categorise the E2 visa as a dual intent visa, and it’s important to take into account that the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handling your E2 visa application will ask you to declare that you intend to return to your country once your visa expires. This means that you have to show you have a nonimmigrant intent during your application and your stay.

To acquire a green card, you need to apply for another visa.

The “intent to depart” in an E2 visa

Compared to other nonimmigrant visas, the E2 visa requires that you have the intent to depart the U.S. once your visa expires. This doesn’t stop you, however, from filing for an adjustment of status to another visa.

The process of adjusting your status can be complex and the timing of your filing is crucial to your approval. This is why it’s highly recommended that you work with an E2 visa lawyer to increase the chances of you achieving your immigration goals.

Green Card application process

As we have said, the pathway from an E2 visa to a green card requires you to apply for an immigrant visa in the U.S. or your home country.

Generally, immigrant visa applicants or their sponsors depending on the visa, file a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the application is approved and the priority date is “current”, the applicant then may apply for a permanent resident status from within the U.S. or through their country’s U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

If you desire to acquire a green card as an E2 visa holder, you can consult with the best US immigration lawyers Singapore has to offer who can help you determine which path is the best option based on your circumstances and your current goals.

EB-5 visa

If you’re an E2 visa holder, the EB5 visa can be a good option if you want to acquire a permanent residence status as it is also an investment-based visa. This visa also allows your dependent family members such as your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to come with you to the U.S.

To acquire an EB5 visa, you would need to invest either through direct investment or in a regional centre a minimum amount of $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas or $1.05 million in other areas.

Since the EB5 visa is also investment-based, a lot of visa holders see this as a good option to move from a non-immigrant visa to an immigrant visa. There are a few ways you can set up your EB5 investment such as by investing additional capital to your E2 enterprise, investing in a new business, or investing in an existing business.

Employer-based sponsorship

Another option available for you is to have an employer sponsor your immigrant visa.

It can be said that working in the U.S. introduces you and your family to a multitude of opportunities. Although it can take years to acquire a green card through employer sponsorship, this allows you to take care of your business.

There are a few options for you under this visa. Skilled workers and those who have a bachelor’s degree may acquire an EB3 visa. The employer would first need to acquire a labour certification through the Department of Labor.

Also called the PERM labor certification process, this includes the submission of a “prevailing wage determination” to ensure that your job meets the required salary by the US immigration service.

Family-based sponsorship

Family sponsorship is another way for you to acquire permanent residence status in the U.S. A U.S. citizen family member who’s over 21 years old can sponsor your visa application. The immediacy of your relationship with them determines how long the process will take such as if they are your child, the process could take up to 12 months.

Aside from the immediacy of the relationship, nationality can also affect the time it would take to process your application. For Singaporeans, the processing time can be faster but for other nationalities where applications are high, the waiting times are longer.

If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, you can also have them sponsor you for a green card.

Qualifying relatives for green card applications

Concerning family sponsorships, there are qualifying relatives to be considered eligible for such sponsorship of a U.S. citizen:

  • The spouses

  • The unmarried children under the age of 21

  • The orphan was adopted abroad

  • The orphan to be adopted in the U.S.

  • The parents, if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old.

Preference relatives may find it hard to be approved for a green card. The processing time can be long and there is a limit on the visa applications approved.

The preference relatives are categorised by the following:

  • First preference. Unmarried children of any age.

  • Second preference. Subcategory 2A is for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 while subcategory 2B is for unmarried children at least 21.

  • Third preference. Married children.

  • Fourth preference. Siblings of the U.S. citizen with the U.S. citizen at least 21 years old.

Extraordinary ability-based sponsorship

If you have extraordinary ability or are at the top of your field in either business, science, the arts, or education then you may qualify for an EB1 visa.

Even if you don’t currently have such ability, you can start your career which will help you progress and qualify for an EB1 visa while utilising your E2 visa.

Alternative ways to become permanent residents from E2 visa holders

By investing more capital

Compared to the EB5 visa, the E2 visa doesn’t have a minimum investment amount for you to be eligible for the visa. It is required instead that you must invest a substantial amount either by direct investment or by investing in a regional centre. Once you’re an E2 visa holder and want to acquire a green card, you can increase your investment to qualify for an EB5 visa.

The EB5 visa allows foreign nationals to obtain a green card by investing the required minimum amount depending on the area where you’re investing. The minimum investment amount for Targeted Employment Areas is $800,000 while $1.50 million for other areas.

Aside from the minimum investment amount, you would need to create at least 10 full-time jobs for qualified U.S. employees. This requirement can be attained through direct employment if you have chosen to do direct investment. Meanwhile, if you have chosen to invest in a regional centre, this requirement can be attained both by direct and indirect employment.

Investing in a regional centre

Aside from direct investment, you can also opt to invest in an EB5 regional centre to acquire an EB5 visa and acquire a green card.

A regional centre is a structured enterprise with foreign investors serving as limited partners. Here, the projects pool investment capital from foreign investors, which makes it easier to fulfil the job creation requirement.

When you invest in a regional centre, the job creation requirement can be attained through direct and indirect employment as compared to direct investment which requires direct employment only.

Through the National Interest Waiver

The National Interest Waiver waives for foreign investors with extraordinary abilities which benefit the U.S. economy the employer sponsorship and labor certification criteria. With this, you can acquire a green card without needing employer sponsorship.

To acquire lawful permanent residence under the National Interest Waiver, you must meet the following:

  • Demonstrate that your proposed business has national importance or substantial merit

  • You have applicable skills that will ensure the success of the business

  • Demonstrate that the business will benefit the U.S. to waive the E2 visa and not require any family or employer sponsorship.

By extending or renewing your E2 nonimmigrant status

Another alternative to acquiring a green card is to opt for the renewal or extension of your E2 status. This means, however, that you must continue to meet the visa requirements.

Once you fail to meet any of the E2 visa requirements, this means you are no longer qualified to stay in the U.S. under your valid visa and you may be asked to leave.

The requirements of an E2 visa are as follows:

  • You must be a national of a treaty country, which is a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral agreement with the U.S. or is otherwise considered qualified by law. Singapore is one of these countries.

  • You must invest a substantial amount of funds in a U.S. business.

  • You must own and control at least 50% of the business.

By complying with job creation requirements

One of the requirements of an EB5 visa is to create at least 10 full-time positions for qualified U.S. employees. Depending on your type of investment, this requirement can be achieved differently.

If you have chosen direct investment, this requirement can be only achieved through direct employment. Meanwhile, if you have chosen to invest in a regional centre, it can be achieved by direct or indirect employment. Around 90% of the requirement may be met through indirect jobs for regional centre investors.

To qualify as an indirect job, it must be created outside of the new commercial enterprise but is not created as a result of the enterprise. Meanwhile, direct jobs establish an employer-employee relationship between the enterprise and the employee.

You also have the option to rely on job maintenance in case of a troubled business. However, you must show that the existing employees are not less than the pre-investment level for at least 2 years.

Capital requirements for investment-based green cards

Capital is not limited to cash. It can be all real, personal, or mixed tangible assets owned and controlled by the foreign investor which will be valued at the fair market value in U.S. dollars.

This doesn’t include the following:

  • Acquired assets whether directly or indirectly through unlawful means

  • Capital investment in exchange for any obligation or debt arrangement between the foreign investor and the enterprise

  • Capital invested with a guaranteed return of the invested amount

  • Capital invested is subject to any agreement between the foreign investor and the enterprise which provides that the investor has a contractual right of repayment except that the enterprise has a buy-back option that may be exercised by its sole discretion.

Please note that you must show that you are the legal owner of the invested capital.

Minimum investment amount depending on filing date and location

Since the EB5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 was signed into law, the minimum investment amount has been changed. If you filed your petition before March 15, 2022, the minimum investment amount is $500,000 in Targeted Employment Areas while it’s $1 million in other areas.

Meanwhile, if you have filed your petition after March 15, 2022, then the minimum investment amount is $800,000 in TEAs while it’s $1.50 million in other areas.

E2 visa benefits

While the E2 visa doesn’t confer permanent resident status, it still has several benefits which you can enjoy as a holder:

  • You can legally work in the U.S. for the E2 enterprise

  • You can travel freely in and out of the U.S.

  • You can stay indefinitely as long as you meet the requirements

  • Your dependent family members can be included in the application and come with you to the U.S.

Jeremy Abernathy

9 January 2024

I had the pleasure of working with Verdie and Nessa to obtain my E2 Visa. Their in-depth knowledge and experience allowed me to be fully prepared in my application and they were able to answer all questions leading up to the Visa interview.

Saeed Muhammad

15 December 2023

Verdie was an amazing attorney, providing exceptional client care throughout the process. He had a great depth of knowledge in all areas on business visas in the US.

Satya Choudhury

20 September 2023

I had a great experience with Davies & Associates. They are very thorough in the approach and their have experts in this field who know the domain very well.I would certainly be leaning onto them for any future needs as well.

Hoshino Ryuichi

12 September 2023

Thanks to them for handling my E2 visa very professionally. I had a study visa from F1 and changed it to E2. I encountered many problems during the application process. Verdie and Etta were very patient in helping me and it took a long time. I highly recommend this place.

Mark I. Davies
Mark I. Davies
Dual qualified as a lawyer in the United States and the United Kingdom, Mark I. Davies is the Global Managing Partner and founder of our firm. Mark also Chairs our Global Business and Investor visa team and focuses his practice on EB5, L1, E2 and other business and investor visa solutions. A former General Counsel, Mark is relied on as primary counsel to major corporations, investors, non-profits and businesses of all sizes.

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