The E-2 Treaty Investor Program allows a national (employer) of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. USCIS defines a “treaty country” as a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
In addition for qualified employers, these companies may petition to send employees to the United States if the right steps are taken. This immigration opportunity is a financially-driven opportunity that should hopefully benefit all parties, including the United States.
Who then, qualifies as an E-2 visa applicant?
USCIS specifically outlines these prerequisites to be considered an E-2 Treaty Investor:
- Applicant must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- The applicant has invested, is actively in the process of investing, a “substantial amount” of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States. USCIS uses context (business size, operation, field of industry) to evaluate an investment's substantiality.
- The applicant has demonstrated that he or she is seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
Now that the general qualifications have been established, who can specifically petition for an E-2 visa?
E-2 visas may not be made on specific forms if the person being filed/sponsored is physically outside of the United States at the time. These forms vary case by case, so it is highly advised that interested applicants seek legal expertise in the field of immigration.
If the applicant is currently in the United States with a lawful nonimmigrant status, he or she may file the appropriate forms to request a change of status to E-2 classification. Additionally, if the desired employee/applicant is currently residing in the United States with a lawful nonimmigrant status, the qualifying employer may file the necessary forms on the employee's behalf.
If you succeed in getting your E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, what are rules you need to know?
The E-2 investor needs to remember that their current visa only allows a temporary period of stay. More specifically, qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. In other words, if the successful applicant does not re-apply for another reason for residence, he or she will be required to leave.
Investors looking to extend their stay may be granted extensions in increments of up to two years each. Additionally, there is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. In other words, E-2 visas may be used as a long-term form of residence if the proper steps have been taken.
Ultimately, all E-2 nonimmigrants are viewed by USCIS as temporary residents of the United States. As such, USCIS expects E-2 visa holders to maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
The E-2 Visa application process has been a successful method for many businessmen and employees alike to gain U.S. residency. From large corporations, to smaller, lesser-known companies, employers/employees have used E-2 visas as another great option.
Even though there are many restrictions and factors to consider—short period of stay, the need to renew every two year, etc.—may be unappealing to some, those looking for a short-term business opportunity may find this program perfect. Even those looking for long-term residence may use E-2 visas as the initial step, then petition for an adjustment of status.
It is advisable to seek legal guidance from our office today as we strive to help guide you with your specific case.
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