Canadians who move to the US to start a business generally select one of two popular investor visas: the E-2 visa or the EB-5 visa.
E-2 visas are available to investors making significant investments in US businesses with funds that are considered “at risk” by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). An E-2 investor’s spouse and children may also enter the US. These visas are generally issued in two-year increments that can be indefinitely renewed; however, once the investor stops working for the business to which they are tied, the visas expire, and the investor and their family must return to Canada. There is no direct path to permanent residency as a result of holding an E-2 visa. To apply for a different visa at that time, talk to a US immigration attorney.
In contrast, the EB-5 investor visa leads to a Green Card and permanent residency for the investor and their family. To qualify for the visa, you must make a minimum investment with “at-risk” funds as determined by USCIS. There is an option to either start a new business and assume a managerial role or to invest in a US business through a “regional centre” where you are a passive investor.
As a US Green Card holder, you eventually have the option to become a US citizen via the naturalization process. Becoming a US citizen has cons as well as pros, though; we therefore recommend weighing all factors in a considered fashion before making the decision to become a US citizen.