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J1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared

By Terry Martin

The fifth preference employment based visa (EB5) was created in 1990 as a way for foreign investors to gain United States permanent residency (and eventual citizenship if desired), through an investment in a new or pre-existing American business that sees the creation of at least 10 new full-time jobs for American workers. The J-1Visa is “for those who intend to participate in an approved program for the purpose of teaching, instructing or lecturing, studying, observing, conducting research, consulting, demonstrating special skills, receiving training, or to receive graduate medical education or training.”  In this article we will take a closer look at the J-1 and Eb5 Green Card visas to see how their paths to a Green Card Visa compare and contrast.

J-1 Exchange Visa – As per the government’s web site:  J-1 nonimmigrants are sponsored by an exchange program that is designated as such by the U.S. Department of State. These programs are designed to promote the interchange or persons, knowledge, and skills, in the fields of education, arts, and science. Examples of exchange visitors include, but are not limited to: Professors or scholars, Research assistants, Students, Trainees, Teachers, Specialists, Nannies/Au pairs and Camp counselors.

Application Process – The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in administering the J-1 exchange visitor program, so the first step in obtaining a J-1 visa is to submit a Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, (formerly known as an IAP-66). This form will be provided by your sponsoring agency. You should work closely with the officials at your sponsoring agency who will be assisting you through this process.  An official who is authorized to issue Form DS-2019 is known as a Responsible Officer (RO) or Alternate Responsible Officer (ARO). Your RO or ARO will explain to you what documents are needed in order to be issued a DS-2019. 

After you have obtained a Form DS-2019, you may then apply for a J-1 visa through the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The waiting time for an interview appointment for applicants can vary, so submitting your visa application as early as possible is strongly encouraged (though you may not enter the United States in J-1 status more than 30 days before your program begins).

EB5 Immigrant Investor Visa – In stark contrast to the J-1 Visa, lays the Immigrant Investor Visa. According to the government’s web page, to qualify for the EB5 Visa Program you must:

1)      Invest or be in the process of investing at least $1,000,000.  If your investment is in a designated targeted employment area (A Targeted Employment Area is defined by law as “a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average.) then the minimum investment requirement is $500,000.

2)     Benefit the U.S. economy by providing goods or services to U.S. markets.

3)     Create full-time employment for at least 10 U.S. workers.  This includes U.S. citizens, Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) and other individuals lawfully authorized to work in the U.S. (however it does not include you (the immigrant), or your spouse, sons or daughters).

4)     Be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a Limited Partner, corporate officer or board member.

We see in this comparison that the J-1 and EB5 immigrant investor visa are very different in nature and offer disparate paths to a Green Card Visa. While the J-1 allows a foreign citizen to enter the country in on an exchange basis, the EB5 visa relies on an immigrant’s investment to create new full-time jobs for the American workforce.

This article was written by Terry Martin. For information on the Eb5 Green Card also known as the Immigrant Investor Visa, and to learn how to earn a Green Card Visa through this program, he recommends you visit

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Martin, Terry "J1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared." J1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared. 9 Jul. 2010. 16 Nov 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Martin, T (2010, July 9). J1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared. Retrieved November 16, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Martin, Terry "J1 and EB5 Immigrant Investor Visas Compared"

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