E2 Visa: Mexicans now Eligible for Longer-Validity E2 & E1 Visas

By Maxine Philavong

The U.S. Department of State has recently implement major changes to the reciprocity schedule for Mexican nationals. Following the latest Department of State periodic review and update of visa reciprocity in pursuant of a January 2018 Executive Order, Mexican nationals will now benefit from increased visa validity periods in the E-1 Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor categories. According to the latest Department of State reciprocity schedule, E-1 and E-2 visas for Mexican nationals can be granted with a validity period of up to four years (48 months).

Up until this change in validity, those who held E-1 Trader and E-2 Investor visas and employees would have only been approved for up to 12 months or one year.

Previously, this meant those who held these visa types could travel freely in the United States without visa renewal for up to one year. Now with the new update, they may travel freely without renewal for up to 48 months or four years.

This extension period comes with many advantages for E-1 and E-2 visa holders.  Business owners and key staff members will benefit from visa validity, allowing them to benefit from uninterrupted stays in the U.S.

Moreover, for E-2 visas, holders continue to benefit from indefinite renewal as long as the visa application and the underlying business meets all visa requirements.

Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel and temporary closure of U.S. consular posts worldwide, the extended visa validity periods bring great value. Business owners who depend on key personnel with E-1 and E-2 visas can now plan cross-border business travel without worrying about delays or impact on business operations because of visa related renewal wait periods.

Most importantly, the extended visa validity period brings great value to business owners and key personnel looking to pursue business growth and new opportunities, benefiting from a four-year period instead of the pervious one.

Newer businesses may benefit from the extension as they are afforded the opportunity to achieve growth and development outside of the one-year period. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other outside factors, newer businesses may have had a difficult time reaching their targeted growth during the one-year period. With the visa validity extension, newer businesses are given an extended cushion of time.

This extended benefit is consistent with the visa validity of most E-1 and E-2 countries whose citizens are issued visas for up to 60 months, The validity of visa stamps is not determinative of the admission period in the U.S., with E-1 and E-2 visa holders admitted for a period of two years upon each entry within visa validity; and with H-1B and L-1 visa holders being admitted for the period of validity of their USCIS approval notice (or Form I-129S in the case of blanket L visa holders).

Alongside E-1 and E-2 visa validity being extended, H1B and L1 category visa durations have also been increased. L-1 category visas, reserved for Intracompany Executives, Managers or Specialized Knowledge personnel, can be issued to Mexican nationals for up to 48 months or four years, increasing from 12 months or one year.

However, processing fees have risen sharply from $57 to $311. Meanwhile, the validity period for H1B visas issued to Mexican nationals has increased from 12 months to three years. Processing fees for H1B visas have also significantly increased, rising from $57 to $252.

Processing fees for E-1 and E-2 visas have also increased substantially, rising from $46 to $296. 

The increase in H1B and L1 visa validity will ensure that current holders of these visas will benefit from having a visa that authorizes a return to the US for an extended and uninterrupted period of time.

Mexican nationals deeply benefit from these extensions has E-2 visas are not affected by the Trump work visa ban implemented in June, proving especially useful.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


EB5 Visa: Cost of Form I-526 Increasing by 9% from October

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the outcome of its biennial fee review earlier this month. Form I-526 – Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor – will be subject to a price increase. The form, which is the first step of the EB-5 application process, will increase to $4,010 from October. This represents a 9% increase on the current price of $3675.

An increase in the minimum investment amount last November is the principle reason for the large increase. At that time, the minimum investment requirement almost doubled from $500,000 to $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and from $1 million to $1.8 million outside of a TEA.

USCIS argues that the increased investment amount means that the Source of Funds work – critical to an I-526 adjudication – has become more complicated, resulting in additional work for the agency. Complicated source of funds often need to go through a managerial review, adding extra cost.

While the price increase is partly to reflect the increased workload for USCIS case officers, there is another reason behind this. The review states that USCIS significantly “overestimated” demand for EB-5, which will lead to a budget shortfall. USCIS is almost entirely fee funded, which makes this especially problematic.

The reason for the overestimation is that demand was calculated before the minimum investment amount increased last November. That increase has dampened demand and the cost of the I-526 has been increased to mitigate that.

The I-829 Form – the Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residency Status – has registered a more modest 4% price increase. This form comes later in the EB-5 process when an investor is eligible to remove the conditions on their Green Card. The new price of an I-829 is $3,900.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Tax Planning for US Immigration

Podcast: Tax Planning for the American Dream

When we first start thinking about moving to the United States, tax is not always uppermost in our minds. But as Global Tax Counsel Gary Kaufman explains in this podcast, it is vital to start planning your tax position from the earliest stages of the process.

In this podcast we cover tax as it relates to the two types of US immigration – immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas.

Immigrant visas refer to programs like the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and the EB-1A and EB-1C visas for extraordinary talent and business leaders respectively. Immigrant visas offer permanent residency status in the United States (Green Cards). Permanent residents are taxed on worldwide income, so it is vital to consider your entire global asset base, and to understand whether the countries in which you hold assets have a tax treaty with the United States.

We also cover non-immigrant visas in the podcast. Non-immigrant visas do not confer permanent residency, however there will still be tax considerations for any earnings made inside the United States.

Many of our non-immigrant visa clients move to America for the purposes of starting or acquiring a business. This can be achieved through the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, or by setting up a US office of your existing company through the L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa. In the podcast, Gary explains the importance of structuring the business correctly from a tax perspective at the outset.

Many of our non-immigrant visa clients eventually wish to transition to a Green Card. There are multiple ways to achieve this, and anyone interested should speak to one of our immigration attorneys.

Contact Gary gkaufman@usimmigrationadvisor.com

This podcast is produced for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Relaxation on H1-B and L-1 Visa

“Immigration Ban” Relaxed for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders Returning to Same Job

By Maxine Philavong

After several lawsuits that were backed by large U.S. companies, the Trump administration relaxed part of its so-called “immigration ban” on foreign nationals, permitting those on H-1B and L-1 visas to return to their previous held employment in the U.S..

In April, the administration barred all foreign nationals who did not previously hold a valid visa from working in the U.S. for 60 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In June, President Trump signed an executive order extending their ban of all workers with a H-1B and L-1 visa, until the end of the year.

This meant that if a person had been waiting for these visas to be issued, or if you already had either of these visas but were waiting for it to get stamped, said person would have now had to wait until at least the end of the year.

The ban put thousands of foreigners waiting for their visas outside of the U.S. in a tough spot. For new visa holders waiting in their home country and those with a visa who had traveled to their home countries for stamping now found themselves barred from returning to the U.S. until the end of the year. Many feared job loss if they were not permitted to return.

Moreover, dependents of the visa holders were impacted, too. If a spouse of the visa holder had traveled to their home country to get their visa stamped but could not secure an appointment before the ban, they may have found themselves stuck in their home country.

However, after pushback from lawsuits that were back by large companies like Apple and Microsoft, the Trump administration has relaxed part of the ban.

Who Qualifies for the H-1B and L-1 Visa Exception?

After relaxing the ban on H-1B and L-1 Visa applications, the Trump administration favors those who qualify for national interest exception. This applies for those who are aiding in the fight against Covid-19 or those whose positions aid in economic recovery in the U.S. Meaning, there special exception for H-1b applications who are “technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the U.S.”

Additionally, for both visa categories, the administration grants exception to those “seeking to resume ongoing employment in the U.S., in the same position, with the same employer and with the same via classification.”

Those traveling under the H-1B and L-1 visa to the U.S. should be able to prove at least two of the five criteria: “Their employer has a continued need for their work even during the pandemic; they make a significant contribution to a critical infrastructure need; they are paid at least 15% more than the prevailing wage; they have an unusual expertise in the industry; or that their employer would suffer financial hardship if their via was denied.”

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Please Contact Us to discuss any of the content in this article.


Benefits of Grenada Citizenship Programme: Visa-Free Access to China

Many of our clients are motivated to apply for the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program because of it provides rapid access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. But that is only part of the picture.

There are many benefits to Grenadian citizenship in its own right. This includes no residency requirements, no tax on worldwide income, as well as citizenship of a politically and economically stable country.

And now, we are seeing clients cite another factor as their motivation for seeking Grenadian citizenship: Grenada is one of the few countries in the world that is granted visa-free access to China.

Geopolitics is largely the reason behind this change. Clients who live or do business in China are concerned that their current citizenship may present obstacles to them in future.

Take the example of one client, an American businessman who spends lots of time in Beijing. He is concerned about that the trade war between the United States and China will impact his ability to live and work in China. As a result he has worked with us to obtain Grenadian citizenship.

Similarly, an Indian client who has strong business links with China is pursuing Grenada citizenship because of heightened tensions between the two countries.

In addition to access to China, Grenada’s strong passport offers visa-free access to a wide range of countries. This includes the UK, the EU Schengen Zone, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Grenada’s citizenship by investment programs is one of the most cost effective in the world. Investment requirements start from $150,000 with real estate investment and public donations available.

Grenada is an E-2 Treaty Country with the United States. The E-2 Treaty allows a person to bring their family to the US for the purposes of investing in and operating a business. Many countries are not eligible for the E-2 Visa so it is necessary to first become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country like Grenada. Find out if your country has an E-2 Treaty with the USA here.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Acquire a Franchise Business and Move to the United States

Did you know it was possible to move to the United States to run a franchise business. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows people to emigrate to the US for the purposes of investing in and managing a business. This can include a franchise.

In this video, our Global Chairman Mark Davies, addresses some of the frequently asked questions about franchise business. And advises on some of the pitfalls to be aware of and to avoid.

For example, franchise brokers can help with the whole process. However, it is important to know if they are earning commission and to seek external advise.

Not all franchises are eligible for the E-2 visa, so it is important to check first. It is especially useful to have a corporate lawyer review the franchise agreement before you sign.

If you are not from an E-2 Treaty Country. Contact us to discuss ways to become eligible for the E-2 visa. This usually involves obtaining citizenship of a country that has an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Grenada and Turkey offer the most cost-effective pathways to citizenship.

This article and video is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.