In short, the difference is that an E2 is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa while an EB-5 is an immigrant (permanent) visa. That is one reason why the capital requirement for the EB-5 is initially much higher. However, the E2 is renewable in 5-year intervals so you will be able to extend your stay as long as you continue to meet the requirements.
Each visa attempts to facilitate foreign investment in the US, but each does so in a different way. The E2 is a treaty investor visa, meaning that it will only apply to investors who are nationals of a country that has signed a relevant treaty with the US.
- Investment of capital
- In a new commercial enterprise
- That creates at least 10 jobs
- National of a country with a relevant treaty with the US -- here’s a list.
- Invest a substantial amount
- In a bona fide enterprise in the US
- Entering US solely to develop and direct the enterprise
Initially, you can see a few differences just in the list of requirements such as the creation of jobs in the EB-5 and the developing and directing the E2. The EB-5 visa requires the new commercial enterprise that is being created as a result of the investment to create and maintain at least 10 jobs for US workers. The E2 visa requires the investor to show that he or she is entering the US solely to develop and direct the enterprise in which they are investing. This requirement can be met by showing that the E2 investor hold some type of management position or have a substantial amount of ownership or control.
The actual amount of the investment required, as you pointed out, is also a key difference. Quickly, the EB-5 requires an investment totaling at least $1,000,000. But it doesn’t have to be all cash, it can include things like intellectual property, equipment, or other assets. On the other hand, there is no dollar amount required for the E2 visa. It only requires in investment that is substantial in relation to the total cost of purchasing or creating a brand new franchise. In other words, the investor needs to be the principal investor in the enterprise.