E2 Visa Holders and Opportunities to Gain a Green Card
Despite some talk about changes in legislation in the future, currently, the E2 visa does not necessarily lead to getting a green card in the US. You need a green card if you want to live permanently here and have the same rights as any US citizen. Even though the E2 visa does not give the holder a direct route to getting a green card, there are a number of indirect routes which may be feasible.
Do you have a family member who is a US citizen?
If you have a son or daughter, brother or sister already living here who is a US citizen then they could sponsor you for a green card. This process can take quite a long time. It all depends on the relationship between you, the principal visa holder and the person who is prepared to sponsor you as well as your nationality. If the family member is a son or daughter, then the sponsorship process might take only a year, but if it is a brother or sister then it could take much longer – between 8 – 12 years. The other factor is your nationality. If you are a national of a country from which there are already an enormous number of applications – e.g. from China, India or the Philippines, then the process is much longer.
Marriage can lead to a green card
If you meet a US citizen while you are here and get married to him or her, then your new spouse can sponsor you for a green card. Because immigration regulations come under federal laws, you could even be entitled to marry a person of the same gender as yourself and that partner could also sponsor you.
Do you know an employer who could sponsor you?
If you are holding an E2 visa, you are not legally entitled to do any work for anyone else. The idea is that you manage and deal with your own business. However, it may be that because of your skills and experience that you meet an employer who is prepared to sponsor you for a green card. Employer sponsored green cards can take many years and it is rare for an employer to wait for you while you continue with your business on an E2 visa. One possible option is switching over from an E2 visa to a H1-B category visa which is designed for those with at least a BA or a professional qualification. With a H1-B visa, you can then work directly for the employer who is prepared to sponsor you until you gain the green card.
Do you have extraordinary ability?
If you really are top in your field and have what is termed ‘extraordinary ability’ there is a possibility that you could apply and gain an EB1 visa which automatically means access to a green card.
Do you have at least $500,000 to invest?
Those who can grow their business while on an E2 visa or have over $500,000 to invest in a federally designated regional center may be able to gain an EB5 visa which will give them automatic rights to a green card for themselves and any of their family members under 21. A current E2 business owner needs to be able to demonstrate that they have employed 10 people or more and have invested a million dollars in the process of growing their business.