Explore the advantages and disadvantages of EB-5, H-1B, H-4, E2, E3 and F1 visas.
Employment Based Immigration 5th Preference: EB-5
What is an EB-5 visa?
The EB-5 visa is the fastest and most direct route to a US green card. It allows foreigners to invest in new US businesses or developments, and in exchange, receive a green card for them and their family.
Read more about the EB-5 visa program here.
Who can apply for an EB-5 visa?
Any foreign national who invests at least $900,000 USD in a “Targeted Employment Area” or $1,800,000 USD in other areas. The green cards will be given to the foreign investor, their spouse, and unmarried children under 21.
How long does an EB-5 visa take?
It takes 6 to 12 months for the EB-5 investor to get a conditional green card. Sometimes the process can move faster, other times it can move slower. Read more about the EB-5 visa process here.
Advantages of an EB-5 Visa
- Foreign investor money is put into safe and stable investments, typically real estate projects, that have a high likelihood of returning the investment.
- There’s no lottery system in the EB-5 program. Qualified investors move quickly through the visa process.
- The EB-5 visa is permanent. Other visa types (H-1B or E2) are temporary only.
- The EB-5 green card is held by the investor and not a business. H-1B visas are held by US businesses who can cancel the visa at any time.
- US Government approved Regional Centers such as International Creative Capital can do all the work for the foreign investor by finding safe projects for investment.
Disadvantages of an EB-5 Visa
- The huge popularity is the main disadvantage of the EB-5 visa process. There is a wait-list for investors trying to get into this popular program, but it is significantly shorter than other immigrant visas.
- Another disadvantage is finding acceptable investment projects. However, there are US Government approved Regional Centers, like ICC that help foreign investors connect with appropriate projects. See ICC Projects Open for Investment.
Apply for an EB-5 Visa today
The EB-5 program is the best way for qualified investors to get a US Visa.
Contact ICC Now to start your EB-5 Visa process
H1-B Specialty Occupations (Nonimmigrant, Temporary Worker)
What is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa allows foreign workers in specialty occupations to live in the United States for up to 3 years. There is a limit on the number of H-1B visas issued each year.
Who can apply for an H-1B Visa?
Applicants need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, specialized knowledge, and can’t replace an American worker.
How long does an H-1B Visa take?
The H-1B system is done by a lottery. Applicants holding a Master’s degree get entered twice into the lottery while applicants with only a bachelor’s degree get entered once. There is no guaranteed of getting approved, ever.
Advantages of an H-1B Visa
- The H-1B visa must be started by a US business, which means the applicant will have work while in the United States.
- Once the visa is approved, which is unlikely and not guaranteed, the H-1B visa can be renewed for an additional 3 years.
Disadvantages of an H-1B Visa
- The U.S. company owns the visa and can cancel it at any time and for any reason. This has led to companies abusing H-1B visa holders.
- The H-1B system is done by lottery and there’s no guarantee of ever getting a visa.
- The applicant for an H-1B visa must first find a company in the US willing to hire them.
- The H-1B visa process is expensive for companies.
- The H-1B isn’t permanent and can be revoked at any time.
- Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may seek admission in the H-4 nonimmigrant classification. However, spouses are not granted authorization to work.
- A request may be filed with USCIS (form I-765) but there is no guarantee that employment authorization will be granted.
H-4 Nonimmigrant Visa for Immediate Family of H1-B Visa Holders
What is an H4 Visa?
The H-4 visa is for immediate family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old) of the H-1B visa holders.
Who can apply for an H4 Visa?
Immediate family of an H-1B visa holder (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old).
How long does an H4 Visa take?
The process is dependent on the H-1B visa, which is done by a lottery system that isn’t guaranteed.
Advantages of an H4 Visa
Same advantages of the H-1B visa.
Disadvantages of an H4 Visa
Same disadvantages of the H-1B visa.
E-2 Nonimmigrant Investor Visa (Temporary)
What is an E2 Visa?
The E-2 visa is for individuals to work inside the United States while controlling an investment within the US. The visa is good for 3-5 years and can be extended forever.
When the business is completed, the foreign investor must return to their home country or apply for a different type of visa.
Who can apply for an E2 Visa?
Investors who make a “substantial” investment into a US-based business may apply. Unfortunately, E-2 visas are done on a case-by-case basis and no general guidelines can be given. The definition of “substantial” varies from industry to industry and depends on the judgement of the USCIS.
- Dependents such as a spouse or children must also find other visas as the E2 visa doesn’t cover their entry into the United States.
How long does an E-2 Visa take?
The visa process is done case-by-case by the USCIS and approximation time is unknown.
Advantages of an E2 Visa
A substantial investment into the United States can get a short term visa for he investor.
Disadvantages of an E-2 Visa
- Spouse and children aren’t automatically given visas and have to find a different visa.
- E-2 visas can’t be used to gain permanent residence in the US.
- The visa process time and entry depends on government agency approval, which isn’t guaranteed.
E-3 Specialty Occupation Workers from Australia
What is an E-3 Visa?
The E-3 visa is for Australians only. It is similar to the H-1B visa, but quicker, indefinitely renewable, and it allows the spouse of the visa holder to work in the United States.
Who can apply for an E-3 Visa?
Australians who meet all the requirements for the H-1B visa: a U.S. company hires and sponsors them.
How long does an E-3 Visa take?
The E-3 visa is faster than the H-1B visa because it’s part of a separate lottery, that is for Australians only. While there is a limit to the number of E-3 visas, this limit is very large. However, the H-1B visa process still takes a while to complete, similarly the E-3 visas aren’t the fastest way to apply for U.S. residence.
Advantages of an E-3 Visa
See the advantages of the H-1B visa.
Disadvantages of an E-3 Visa
See the disadvantages of the H-1B visa.
F-1 Academic Student Visa
What is an F-1 Visa?
F visas allow foreigners to attend colleges in the United States but don’t allow for permanent residence. The foreign student may be in the US for as long as they are taking full courses of study.
Who can apply for an F-1 Visa?
F-1 visa applicants must to the following to maintain their visa:
- maintain a “full course load” in an approved US institution
- not have any employment without authorization from the Department of Homeland Security
- have an accurate and clean SEVIS record
- Be able to support themselves independently without working in the US
How long does an F-1 Visa take?
F-1 visas generally take 3-6 months, but have restrictions that entry and departure must be within 120 days of the start and end dates of education.
Advantages of an F-1 Visa
Easier entry standards, mainly limited to financial status and entry into a full time educational program.
Disadvantages of an F-1 Visa
- Limited to full time students only.
- Limited to on-campus employment only.
- No path for permanent residence for the visa holder.