Thanks to the rise in EB5 minimum investment requirements – from US$500,000 to US$900,000 – and a backlog that shows few signs of abating the short term, those interested in immigrating to the USA have started seeking other, more financially viable, pathways. Among the prime beneficiary of this search for alternatives is the E2 visa.
The E2 is a non-immigrant visa; no matter how successful the applicants are and how well their businesses perform, they will never be able to obtain a US Green-Card through the program. This alone has made many RCBI firms shy away from offering it, and made many applicants dismiss the notion of the E2 as a viable, long-term solution.
But the US remains, in the minds of millions of potential emigrés around the world, a holy grail of immigration destinations. Members of this hardcore American Dream fanbase, therefore, are turning to the E2 in greater and greater numbers, the visa’s shortcomings notwithstanding.
Throughout a series of upcoming articles, we will take deep sips of the E2 statistics cup, exploring in detail the data behind one of the investment migration market’s rising stars.
We’ll begin by considering the program’s rejection data.
Thousands of rejections a year
Between 2014 and 2017, the refusal rate for all non-immigrant visas grew from 15% to 22%. The E2 however, fared better, as rejection rates for the E2 in that same period grew only from 7% to 11%.
The E2 is on a rising tide. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published a report in which in analyzed E2 visa processing data. Taking the period between 2014 and 2017, we can see that the E2 has seen more and more adjudications take place, increasing, on average, 9% a year.
While a handful of applicants each year are rejected for reasons related to national security, criminal backgrounds, fraud, and misrepresentation, the overwhelming majority of those turned down were rejected for relatively innocuous reasons; they were either not qualified to apply in the first place, or they submitted incomplete applications.
The E2 is not atypical among entrepreneurship-based programs for rejecting applicants mainly for not properly applying. If the applicant is not qualified to run the business – be it for lack of experience, education, or professional track-record – the petitioner’s chances are slim.
Substantiating that last point: As the chart below shows, rejection rates varied tremendously between applicant types; investors, who make the capital injections, managers, essential employees, and dependents. The rate of rejection among investors is much higher than among managers, essential employees, and dependents.
That tells us that simply having the wherewithall to apply for E2 isn’t enough; you need the experience to match as well. In 2017, authorities rejected nearly a quarter of all petitions from investors. That’s a high number, and could be discouraging.
We can, however, find some solace in that firms who market the E2 to a qualified crowd of entrepreneurs and perfect the process of documentation, the E2 can be a high-volume goldmine.
Want to know more about the US E2 program? To see recent articles, statistics, official links, and more, visit its Program Page. To see which firms can assist with applications to the program, visit the Residence & Citizenship by Investment Company Directory.