EB-5 Visa, L-1 Visa, E-2 Visa

E-2 Visa: Change of Status approved for a Singaporean national amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

By Verdie Atienza

The client entered the US on a visitor’s visa and recognized the opportunity to set up a full-service business coaching and management consulting company with the goal of improving client’s profitability and increasing operational efficiency. He is the head of a private equity and capital markets firm in Singapore responsible for raising millions in sees capital from various investors and overseeing all aspects of business strategy, corporate governance and product development for global startups. 

The client decided to apply to change status to E-2 Treaty Investor Visa for the following reasons:

  1. He wanted to capitalize on the opportunity in the US;
  2. He was concerned about not being able to come back to the US as soon as he would like if he applies for the E-2 visa at the Embassy because of COVID-19;
  3. He wanted to immediately be able to develop and direct the US company.

With the assistance of D&A, the client was able to timely file an application to change status to E-2. As expected, he received a request for evidence. The challenges to his E-2 change of status application were as follows:

  1. He was required to provide for additional evidence to prove business viability since his company is a start-up;
  2. He was asked to prove his capacity to develop and direct the enterprise considering that the company is a service-oriented one. USCIS has been known to issue RFEs for service-oriented businesses with the treaty investor applicant  as one of the primary service providers.
  3. He was required to prove his non-immigrant intent.

D&A successfully overcame the RFE and obtained an approval for the client. Our team worked closely with our business plan team to prepare a strong response to prove the business viability of the E-2 company even if it is a start-up. COVID-19 made things more challenging because the lockdown and restrictions to gather in big groups will force the company to resort to online or virtual trainings.

We also had to prove to USCIS that our client has the ability to develop and direct the company. Since the company is a service-oriented business, demonstrating that the client will be performing work that is “solely” focused on developing and directing the E-2 company may be difficult, however, we were able to prove that the activities of the E-2 investor applicant are primarily focused on business management and development. We successfully demonstrated that the client’s performance of consulting activities are incidental to their job developing and directing the business. 

With the approval of the change of status application, the Company will now be able to organize corporate trainings that will lead to the professional development and improvement of the employees. The Company will provide strategic consulting services to businesses, enabling them to achieve sustained, profitable growth. This service segment includes strategic advice in the areas of general growth strategy, leadership development, performance improvement, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate portfolio design. In the area of leadership development, the Company’s team views employee engagement as a potential source of competitive advantage. The services of the Company become particularly relevant as the most US companies have to rise above the economic slowdown as a result of the pandemic.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa offers the opportunity to invest in and own a business in America. Applicants must come from an E-2 Treaty country. Click here to find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If your country does not have an E-2 Treaty with the United States, it is possible to quickly obtain citizenship by investment of an E-2 Treaty country which would make you eligible. Grenada Citizenship by Investment and Turkish Citizenship by Investment are the quickest routes to E-2 Visa eligibility.


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.


Israelis looks to US E2 Visa as Vaccination Program Reopens Both Countries

Israel signed an E2 Treaty with the United States in 2019, but the Coronavirus pandemic caused a false start. As the world reopens, 2021 and 2022 look set to be bumper years for Israeli E2 visas.

Israel became the newest E2 Treaty Investor Visa Country in the world when it signed a treaty with the United States that came into force in May 2019. The E2 Visa allows anyone from a treaty country to move to the United States for the purpose of investing in and running a business.

Around 500 E visas were issued to Israeli nationals in 2019*, a figure that was expected to jump significantly in 2020. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Borders were shut and the US embassy in Israel closed to all but essential operations. Visa processing ground to a halt and the number of E visa issuances in Israel dropped to just 260 last year.

The outlook for 2021 is mixed. While consular services have resumed at the embassy, they are still limited by social distancing and the need to protect both staff and applicants. Israel’s world-leading vaccination campaign mean things are likely to improve quickly in the second half of the year and into 2022. Given the current demand we are seeing from Israel, 2022 could be a bumper year for E2 visas in the country.

Benefits of an E2 Visa?

The E2 visa allows a person to invest in and run a business in the United States. Investment requirements are relatively low – usually starting from around $100,000 but need to be enough to support the business plan. It is possible to start a new business, acquire and existing business, or buy into a franchise. It is important to engage attorneys like Davies & Associates that has corporate lawyers working in close proximity with immigration lawyers because the business needs to be correctly structured to comply with the immigration regulations.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 can accompany the primary applicant. Spouses can apply for work authorization in the United States. The visa is valid for up to 5 years but can be renewed again and again provided the underlying business continues to operate. That said, the very first time an Israeli citizen is issued an E2 visa, it will be valid for anything up to 2 years before requiring renewal – subsequent renewals will be at the 5 year intervals.

Becoming a citizen of Israel to access the E2 Visa

Eligibility for the E2 Visa is determined by your country of citizenship. People from countries like Russia and South Africa are not directly eligible. Anyone from a non-E2 Treaty country the could claim Israeli citizenship can then become eligible for the E2 visa by virtue of their new Israeli nationality. Read more about dual Russia Israel citizenship.

People who hold dual UK and Israeli nationality may prefer to opt to apply for the E2 Visa under their Israeli passport. The UK is the only E2 country whose citizens are required to reside in their home country. Israeli-UK dual citizens can still apply at the embassy in London under their Israeli passport.

Alternative US Visas for Israelis

Israel and America have a long history of close political and economic ties. America is by far Israel’s leading export market with around one third of all exports going to America. This may mean the E1 Treaty Trader Visa is more suited to some Israelis. Israel has been eligible for the Treaty Trader Visa for much longer than the E2 Visa. In fact, Israel has been an E1 country since the 1950s. This visa allows for more easy access to the US for employees and owners of Israeli firms that conduct substantial trade with America.

Other alternatives to the E2 Visa for Israeli business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals include the EB5 Investor Visa and the L1 Transfer Visa. Only one Israeli was issued an EB5 investor visa in 2019 out of a total allocation of just over 700. The EB5 visa is a residency by investment program that offers a Green Card for $900,000. All qualifying family members can all obtain Green Cards for a single investment.

The L-1 Visa allows for the intracompany transfer of a manager, execuitve or specialized knowledge employee, from the Israeli office to the US office of the same company. It is possible to use this visa category to send a manager to oversee the establishment and growth of a new US operation of your existing Israeli business. 2,000 L-1 Visas were issued to Israelis in 2019.

* Figures include E1 Treaty Trader Visas as well as E2 Treaty Investor Visas.


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.


US Business Immigration Visas: L1, E2, EB5 Comparison Table

Our firm has helped hundreds of business owners and families move to the United States on EB-5, E-2 and L-1 visas. Which visa is best depends entirely on your unique personal circumstances. We recommend every new client have a free consultation with our team to discuss the various options in light of their personal goals, budgets and interests.

L-1 VisasE-1 VisasE-2 VisasEB-5 Visas
Visa available to nationals of any country?Nationals of treaty trader countries onlyNationals of treaty trader countries only
Must I have worked for a related company abroad for one year?
Ability of dependent Spouse to work in US
Can the visa be renewed into perpetuity assuming I re-qualify?
Is a business plan a very key element of a successful application?
Minimum investment RequiredSufficient to operate valid foreign business and US office or business entityNo theoretical minimum, but enough investment to create a real, viable, businessSufficient to fund business enterprise, generally > $100,000 although less is possibleEither USD 900,000
or USD 1,800,000

Visa Duration

One of the key differences is the length of time you can remain in the United States on each visa. The EB-5 visa leads directly to a Green Card (permanent residency). This means you can stay in the United States permanently until such a time as you opt to surrender your Green Card or apply to naturalize as a US citizen.

The L-1 visa and the E-2 visa are both non-immigrant visas. These do not offer permanent residency, but the E-2 visa is perhaps the next best thing because you can renew it indefinitely. Unlimited renewals means that you could technically live in the United States forever, provided the underlying business remains in operation.

The L-1 Visa is renewable up to a maximum of seven years for the L-1A visa and five years for the L-1B visa. After this time you would need to leave the US or transition to another visa or apply for a Green Card. It is best to discuss your options with an immigration attorney. Good fits for the L-1 visa are the EB-1(c) visa or the EB-3 visa. You can of course, also explore options for transitioning to a Green Card from an E-2 visa if you wish to make your presence in the US more permanent and not tied to the E-2 business.

The amount of time granted on your initial L-1 and E-2 visa will vary depending upon where you are from. Each country has a so-called reciprocity schedule which dictates the maximum visa validity period. Note that your visa might not be granted for the full period listed under your particular country. The authorities may wish you to return sooner to check on the status of your business. For example, “New Office L-1 visas” are granted for just a year initially, so checks on your progress can be made.

Investment Requirements

Each visa comes with a different associated investment requirement. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa – as the name suggests – offers a Green Card by investment. The investment requirements are $900,000 for investments in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million outside these areas. In practice, the Regional Centers who manage the vast majority of EB-5 investments all work in TEAs and so only the $900,000 applies. If you wish to do Direct EB-5, we would need to make sure the investment is placed in a TEA to qualify for the lower amount.

By conducting due diligence on the Regional Center and its project, an EB-5 investor can mitigate risks not only to the Green Card but also to the return of your capital. Most Regional Centers offer very low rates of interest (in many ways the Green Card itself is the return on the investment). By investing with a reputable Regional Center in a reliable project there is no reason why the investor should not see the return of their capital after several years.

There is no fixed investment requirement for the E-2 Visa. A good rule of thumb is that it should be in excess of $100,000 and must be appropriate for the business you are proposing to start or acquire. We have seen some successful E-2 applicants for less than $100,000, so we encourage you to contact us regardless. The investment does not only need to be cash – it can also be in stocks of inventory, patents, equipment etc.

The L-1 visa does not require investment if you are simply transferring from the overseas branch to the existing branch of a multinational company. New Office L-1 visas inevitably require investment to set up and grow the new US office. This needs to be suitable to the needs of the business.

Work Authorization

The EB-5 visa offers complete freedom to work (or not work) in the United States. A single application/investment can include not just the applicant but any spouse and children under the age of 21. Each family member receives their own Green Card meaning they are free to work in the United States. We find many of our EB-5 clients are motivated by their children university education and work prospects after graduation.

The primary applicant for the E-2 and L-1 visas are obviously required to work in the role they moved to the US to fulfil. Spouses of these visa holders, however, can apply for work authorization in the United States. This offers a lot more employment flexibility than the popular H-1B visa for example, since you are not tied to a particular employer. As non permanent residents, you are only taxed on your US earnings.

There are many different pros and cons to each of these visa categories. It is vital to discuss your personal circumstances with our team so we can take you through every eventuality and thereby determine the best visa for you and your family.


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.


Obtaining an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Despite Travel Complexities of Covid-19: Case Study

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Approved for a Canadian National who applied at the US Consulate General in Sydney during the pandemic

By Verdie Atienza, Head of L-1 & E-2 Visa Practice

Prior to the lockdown, D&A started to work on an E-2 visa application for a Canadian national who was temporarily in Australia for a vacation. The original plan was to apply at the US Embassy in Toronto where new E-2 applications for Canadians are filed and processed. It is worth noting that the Department of State encourages nonimmigrant visa applicants to apply at the US Embassy or Consulate in their home country as they are in a better position to determine the ties to the home country.

Due to safety concerns, travel restrictions and lockdowns, our client decided that she wants to apply for the E-2 visa in Australia instead of traveling back to Canada. For this to be possible, we had to advise the client to apply for extension of temporary stay in Australia. The request was granted and so we prepared, finalized and submitted the application at the US Consulate in Sydney. While the applicant had to wait a little longer, she was scheduled to appear for interview and her application was approved at the end of the interview.

While the Department of State cautions applicants of higher chance of getting a denial by applying at the Embassy or Consulate other than the one in the home country, D&A successfully demonstrated the applicant’s ties to the home country. D&A prepared a strong E-2 application which meant that the client had a smooth interview experience.

What was the E-2 Business?

Our client is a Chief Executive Officer of a cosmetics company based in Hawaii. The company specializes in developing and selling sun care products to be used before, during, and after sun exposure. The E-2 Company is dedicated to developing innovative sunscreen formulas that meet the ever changing and evolving skin and sun care needs. The Company’s formulas combine effective cosmetic active and beneficial natural ingredients to create products that achieve the sustainable beauty, health, and wellness goals of modern women.

The E-2 Company’s products are developed in collaboration with a third-party contract manufacturer. The Company carefully selects high-quality ingredients to be used in the manufacturing process in order to develop high-quality, effective sun care products that will simultaneously help users achieve their tanning goals in a sustainable and healthy way.

What is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the US to set up or acquire a business. Applicants must come from a country that holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Both Canada and Australia hold E-2 Treaties with America.

People from countries that do not have an E-2 Treaty with the US have to first become citizens of E-2 Treaty countries, like Grenada or Turkey. Citizens of India, China and Vietnam are not directly eligible for an E-2 Visa.

There is no fixed investment requirement for an E-2 visa, but it is usually expected to be in excess of $100,000. Ultimately, however, the investment amount needs to be appropriate for the business being proposed. A business plan is required as part of the application and the consular officer will assess the E-2 application on the basis of this plan.

E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, which means it does not offer permanent residency. It can, however, be renewed permanently provided the underlying business continues to operate successfully.

National Interest Exception

This case study raises the issue of travel difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic. The United States border has been closed to people who have been in countries with especially bad outbreaks of the virus. This includes Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Davies & Associates has been able to obtain travel waivers for L-1 and E-2 visa clients from these countries. By building the case that it is in the economic interest of America to admit these people, the US authorities have granted special permission to travel.

Read more about National Interest Exceptions.

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.


End of US Travel Ban Releases Pent-Up Demand from Nigeria

President Biden’s decision to reverse President Trump’s travel ban has released pent up demand for US immigration services from Nigeria.

Nigeria was hit with a US travel ban in February 2020 after President Trump introduced new restrictions as part of his ongoing immigration reforms. The move added Nigeria and five other countries to what was widely referred to as a “Muslim Ban” that dated back to the start of his administration.

In Nigeria, where around half the population are Muslim, the ban specifically targeted those seeking permanent residency in the United States. This hit particularly hard in the family-based immigrant (Green Card) categories, but also effectively put a halt to the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program in the country.

EB-5 Visa Nigeria

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program had been growing rapidly in popularity in Nigeria over the past few years, albeit from a low base. In 2016, 38 EB-5 visa were issued to Nigerians, and by 2018 that number had jumped to almost 100.

The travel ban coincided with an increase in the minimum investment amount for EB-5 to $900,000 and then the outbreak of Covid-19. So a temporary dampening of demand in 2020 was likely with or without the travel ban.

But now EB-5 reopens and the pent-up demand is able to unleash. There are just over 700 EB-5 visas available to each country each year. This means Nigeria has a way to go before it hits its annual cap. But if its EB-5 growth trajectory resembles other countries like India, things could move fast.

The EB-5 program provides a fast route to a Green Card for a minimum $900,000 investment that creates ten jobs. Most people invest with an EB-5 Regional Center to help ensure compliance, but it is also possible to make the investment yourself through Direct EB5. A single investment can cover the primary applicant, a spouse, and any children under 21.

L-1 Visa Nigeria

Where we are seeing the most interest right now from Nigeria is the L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa. Technically Nigerians were not prevented from applying for this visa as part of the travel ban, but it made the whole process much harder.

Then in June 2020, President Trump announced a worldwide ban on the L-1 visa among many other visas as part of his plans to contain the economic impact of Covid-19. The L-1 visa is only just reopening as Trump’s ban expires. The pent up demand has built up quite a queue worldwide, so it is a good idea to get started on an application.

The L-1A visa allows an international manager or executive to move from the Nigerian office to the US office of the same company. If you are looking to expand your business to the US, you can use the L-1 visa to move to the US to oversee the set-up and growth of the new office. The L-1B visa permits you to transfer an employee with “Specialized knowledge” to the US.

The L-1A visa is limited to a maximum of seven years and the L-1B for a maximum of 5 years. But you would not get the full amount in one go. Nigerian L-1 visas are issued up to a maximum of 2 years, at which time you would need to apply for a renewal. After the maximum period, you must switch to a different visa or return to Nigeria.

E2 Treaty Investor Visa Plus CBI

The other visa a lot of potential Nigerian clients ask us about is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. The E-2 visa allows a person to move to the US for the purposes of owning and operating a business. People use it to buy restaurant franchises or gas stations, but the business opportunities are much broader than this. You no longer even need physical premises.

The visa is hugely popular, but there is one catch for Nigerians. Nigeria does not hold an E-2 Treaty with the USA. This means that Nigerians seeking an E-2 visa need to first become citizens of a country that does have a treaty. The process is known as E-2 + CBI.

The two E-2 countries with the cheapest and fastest routes to citizenship are Turkey and Grenada. Turkish citizenship can be obtained with an investment in real estate from $250,000 or bank deposits worth more than $500,000. Grenadian citizenship can be obtained with a donation from $150,000 or a real estate investment from $220,000. Citizenship of both countries can be obtained in a matter of months.

The extra step can seem like a hassle, but we have helped clients through this prcoess and it is simpler than it sounds. Plus, for many, the E-2 visa is worth the effort. Spouses of the primary applicant can apply for a separate US work permit, investment requirements are relatively low, and the visa can be renewed forever – provided the business is still in good operation.


The combination of Covid-19 and a travel ban has hit Nigerian immigration to the United States hard. But the travel ban is lifting and the vaccination program is underway. The 2020s look set to be brighter for Nigerians hoping to move to the United States.


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.


Business Immigration from the UK to the USA

Political headwinds have left entrepreneurs and business owners looking for more effective ways to trade. Namely, moving to the source and setting up a business in America.

The United Kingdom is America’s seventh largest trading partner with imports from the UK totalling $125 billion and exports to the UK exceeding $147 billion in 2019.

While bilateral trade grew to an all time high before the pandemic, Trump administration policies have been making things harder for certain sectors. A trade dispute with the European Union over subsidies to Airbus resulted in tariffs being imposed on a number of British products. The Scotch whisky industry, for example, was hit by a 25% tariff on its exports to the US market.

Things should start changing as a result of Brexit and the inauguration of President Biden, but there has not yet been any hurry to remove these tariffs on the US side. Moreover, continued uncertainty around the future of trade and globalization has left many business leaders asking how they can do things differently to hedge against future instability.

As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of people coming to our firm to discuss business immigration options. Not just from Great Britain, but from across the European Union – from Germany, France, the Netherlands and beyond.

There is increased interest in business expansion to the United States, as well as with people wishing to set-up new enterprises. The good news is that, being a land of commerce, the U.S. has multiple options for just such people.

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa

The L-1A Visa allows a manager or executive level employee to move from the British office to the US office of the same company. More than 10,000 L-1 visas were issued to Brits in 2010. Many of them working at large multinationals and moving between established offices.

Yet, the L-1 can also be used to set-up and grow a new office in America. Businesses who do not yet have a presence in America can set one up and then transfer a senior-level employee to manage the business on an L-1 visa. D&A’s lawyers can take care of the company formation as well as the immigration work.

The L-1 is time limited, non-immigrant visa. British people are granted an initial visa of up to a maximum of 60 months (five years). New office L-1s are granted for a much shorter period so the authorities can monitor the progress for the business. Yet, these visas can be renewed – up to a maximum of seven years for an L-1A visa. There is also an L-1B route for people in the company with “specialized knowledge”. This is limited to a maximum of five years. To remain in the United States for longer, an L-1 visa beneficiary must switch to a different visa. The EB-1C and EB-3 visas offer permanent residency and fit well with the L-1 visa.

Click here to visit our UK L-1 Visa Page

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States to operate a business. To qualify for the E-2 visa, a person must be a citizen of a country that holds a relevant treaty with the United States. The United Kingdom holds the oldest such treaty, dating back more than 200 years.

Click here to visit our UK E-2 Visa webpage

Eligibility is determined by citizenship, so if you were born outside the UK and subsequently became a British citizen, you would still eligible. This contrasts favorably with U.S. family-based and employment-based immigrant visa categories, where eligibility is determined by your country of birth.

There is no stipulated investment amount, but it must be credible to support the business plan. Generally speaking, it should be upwards of around $100,000.

Unlike the L-1, the E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business continues to trade and meets its targets. The maximum length of time an E-2 visa can be issued for is five years, at which point a renewal is required.

Family of both L-1 and E-2 visa holders can move from the UK to the US with the primary applicant. That includes a spouse and any children under the age of 21. Spouses can apply to work in the United States and often clients arrange their E-2 visa around the spouse’s career ambitions.

Visit our UK E2 Visa Center

EB-5 Visa

To have true freedom to work in the United States (and indeed study or retire), permanent residency is the best course of action. One of the fastest routes to a Green Card for UK nationals is the EB-5 Investor Visa. It offers a quick path to a Green Card for a $900,000 investment. This is cheaper than the UK’s own investor visa program, which starts from £2 million and increases in value if you wish to reduce the time period before your wish to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

The number of EB-5 visas available to each country each year is just over 700. The United Kingdom is not close to using up its quota, so there is no oversubscription or waiting list for UK EB-5. However, your EB-5 quota depends upon your country of birth. So, for example, an Indian-born British citizen would count under India’s quota. Given India’s population size and the popularity of the United States as a destination, India is often close to its annual cap.

Davies & Associates is one of the most well established EB-5 law firms in India. We have helped many Indian families successfully apply for their EB-5 visas and have been consistently quoted on the subject in the Indian media. Our Russian speaking lawyers and paralegals are also well placed to help the Russian community in the UK with their US immigration goals.

UK Solutions for Americans

Trade cuts both ways and Americans are inevitably also interested in UK visas. The United Kingdom is still gearing up its post-Brexit immigration system, but there are plenty of opportunities for American business owners and entrepreneurs. There is a UK intracompany transfer visa, which is similar to the L-1 Visa. There is a Sole Representative Visa, which has some similarities to the new office type of L-1 visa. The UK also has a start-up and innovator visas designed to attract innovative, scalable and viable technologies to the United Kingdom.

Davies & Associates is uniquely placed to help Brits looking to move to America and vice versa. Our chairman and founder is a Brit who migrated to America many years ago. Our core teams sit in New York, Chicago and London. Contact us today to discuss your specific circumstances.


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.


Switching from an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa to an O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visa: Client Case Study

By Verdie Atienza, Senior Immigration Attorney, Head of L-1 & E-2 Visa Practice

In 2015, D&A assisted a Romanian national to apply for E-2 Treaty Investor visa by investing $100,000 in a start-up company. The company specializes in intellectual property assets technical and financial consulting with a focus in global brokerage and facilitation of Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) addresses and AS Numbers.

Despite having grown into a multi-million-dollar private company, the company has not been able to meet its employment targets within 5 years because it made better business sense to employ independent contractors. The E-2 Visa requires a business plan as part of the application, which helps the authorities with the subsequent evaluation at the time of renewal.

As the E-2 visa was about to expire, we advised the client that renewing the visa prove to be very challenging due to the employment situation. D&A discussed all other options for the client and it was determined that the client may have a good chance of qualifying for the O-1A category based on his credentials and qualifications.

O-1A is for people with extraordinary ability in education, business, science or the arts.

Since the client has established networks in the US through his E-2 company, it was easy for him to find a petitioning US employer. Since the US employer has been a client of the E-2 company and since they saw how valuable the client us based on his expertise and experience, they did not hesitate in filing a petition for our client.

D&A filed the petition for our client as a person of extraordinary ability to occupy the position of  Global Internet Resources Manager and Facilitator.  In the petition, we carefully outlined as to how the client meets the requirements for an individual to be classified as someone with extraordinary ability in his field.

With a tailor-fit solution, the client no longer has to leave the US despite the inability to renew the E-2 visa. With a change of status application approved, he and his family maintain their lawful nonimmigrant status for an additional period of three years on O-1A status. Should they need to depart the US prior to the expiration of the three-year period, they can apply for the O-1 visa at a US Embassy or Consulate by submitting an application and presenting the O-1A approval notice.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a beneficiary to move to the United States to run a business. It is a non-immigrant visa in that it does not offer a Green Card, but our attorneys are able to advise on options for transitioning to a Green Card at a later stage. The visa is also renewable indefinitely provided the underlying business is still operating and meeting its targets.

There are not annual quotas or caps for the E-2 visa based upon country of origin. However, eligibility is determined by the applicant’s country of citizenship. You must hold citizenship of a country with an E-2 Treaty with the United States. If you do not, please contact our attorneys. We have helped people from non-E2-treaty countries like India and Vietnam become citizens of E-2 Treaty countries like Turkey and Grenada.

The O-1 Visa is available to people with extraordinary ability. It is also a non-immigrant visa, which means it does not offer a Green Card. However, it is possible to subsequently switch to a Green Card through the EB-1A Visa. Applicants for EB-1A visa from India and China are subject to a short wait because the category is capped annually by country and both countries are slightly oversubscribed. Please see our most recent blog post on the Visa Bulletin to understand this in greater detail.


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.


Keeping a Family together through the E-2 Visa: Client Case Study

Our client wanted to be temporarily reunited with his wife who was living in the United States, but time limitations to his visitor visa meant he had to seek a longer- term alternative. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa proved the optimal solution.

By Verdie Atienza, Senior Attorney, Head of E-2 and L-1 Visa Practice

Our firm assisted a Jordanian national to with obtaining an E-2 visa and subsequently a green card. While he is married to a US permanent resident, he did not initially wish to reside in America permanently.

Since he did not want to be apart from his wife for too long, he entered the US on his visitor’s visa and was given a period of 6 months of authorized stay.

Prior to the expiration of his period of authorized stay, he has decided that he wants to stay for a longer period of time to determine whether he wants to permanently decide to live in the US or convince his wife go back with him to Jordan. We recommended the change of status to E-2 option for him.

Our firm assisted him in setting up his E-2 company and guided him on making the investments. He opened a bakery restaurant which offers a variety of Lebanese-style flatbreads with a variety of toppings, with options for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans.  

Having a permanent resident wife posed a hurdle in terms of proving his non-immigrant intent. We worked with the client in documenting ties to Jordan and we successfully obtained an approval which granted a period of authorized stay of two years on E-2 status.

The success of his business changed his mind about his future in America. He decided to apply for permanent residency by virtue of his marriage to a Green Card holder.

The priority date for spouses of permanent residents had recently become current and so we advised him to immediately file an adjustment of status application.

The application has been approved and he is now waiting for his Green Card. With careful planning, our firm managed to lessen the client’s physical separation from his wife.

What is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States for the purposes of investing in and running a business. The visa is renewable indefinitely, provided the underlying business remains in operation.

Spouses can move to America along with the primary applicant and can apply to work outside the business. Dependant children can also move to the United States with their parents.

Investors can choose to purchase a ready-made franchise business provided it complies with the E-2 visa regulations. Davies & Associates has a team of corporate lawyers to make sure the franchise or start-up is structured in a way that complies with all the immigration regulations.

While many E-2 clients opt to invest in restaurants or retail, some choose to have businesses that do not necessarily require a bricks-and-mortar presence. These people benefit from a recent innovation to the E-2 visa program that no longer requires the business to have a physical premises.

Who is eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Eligibility for the E-2 Visa is determined by country of citizenship. An applicant must hold citizenship of a country that holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States.

The full list of countries with E-2 Treaties can be found here. Jordan holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States, so this client was directly eligible for the program. Since there are no quotas for this program, the client was not subject to any waiting lists and his application could progress quickly.

Furthermore, since the E-2 Treaty is governed by treaties, it is less exposed to political machinations than most other visa categories. These treaties tend to outlast short-term political changes in Washington.

If the client had not been from an E-2 Treaty Country, the client would need to have first obtained citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country. The two E-2 treaty countries offering the quickest and most cost-effective pathways to citizenship are Grenada and Turkey.

Grenada offers dual citizenship within just a few months in exchange for an investment in real estate starting from $220,000 or a donation to a government fund starting from $150,000. Turkey requires a $250,000 investment in real estate or $500,000 deposits placed with Turkish banks.

Please contact us for more information: vatienza@usimmigrationadvisor.com

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.


What Impact Will Biden have on E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

While Joe Biden spoke favorably about immigrants in the run-up to the 2020 election, he may find his ability to act favorably hampered by a hostile Senate and an economy ravaged by Covid. Despite this uncertainty, once visa category is likely to continue to be unscathed by all the dramas in Washington: the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.

This is because the E-2 Visa is governed by treaties with sovereign countries that long outlast one president or another. In fact, the oldest E-2 Treaty – with the United Kingdom – dates back more than 200 years.

The E-2 Visa allows foreigners to move to the United States with their families for the purpose of owning and actively managing a business. This could be something they start-up from scratch, or it could be an off-the-shelf franchise business.

There is no fixed investment required for an E-2 visa, but the amount of capital being brought into the United States needs to be proportionate to the needs of the business.

The spouse of the E-2 visa holder can apply for work authorization in the United States and is not tied to working in the E-2 business. This offers a lot more employment flexibility than the H-1B visa, which somewhat bounds and employee to a particular employer.

The E-2 Visa does not bestow permanent residency, but can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business is still in operation. There are options for transitioning to a Green Card – for example, through the EB-5 Visa Program.

The E-2 has enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States because it brings investment and creates jobs. In fact, when President Trump chose to suspend a swathe of visa categories in response to Covid, he deliberately exempted the E-2 Visa from the “ban”.

Unlike other visa categories, there are no quotas or country caps for the E-2 Visa, and processing times are very fast in comparison.

The key limitation is whether your country holds a relevant treaty with the United States. You can find out if you country holds a treaty with the US here.

If your country does not hold a Treaty then don’t worry, there are still options. Firstly, new countries are sometimes added to the list. For example, Israel and New Zealand are recent additions to the list of E-2 Countries.

Nevertheless, citizens of countries like India, China, Vietnam, South Africa and more are not eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Citizens of these countries have to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country first.

The two countries that offer the most cost-effective and fastest routes to citizenship are Grenada in the Caribbean and Turkey. Once you have obtained citizenship of one of these countries, you can apply for the E-2 visa.

Grenada offers citizenship for a real estate investment starting at $220,000 or a donation of $150,000. Processing times are extremely fast and you are not required to visit the island. There is no tax on worldwide income and there are no residency requirements. Grenada allows dual citizenship.

Turkish citizenship can be obtained in a matter of months in exchange for a $250,000 investment in real estate or $500,000 deposits in a Turkish bank. Turkey is a popular option because of its helpful position as a global aviation hub.

Table: E-2 Countries Offering Citizenship By Investment

View our step-by-step infographic detailing the process of obtaining an E-2 Visa through citizenship by investment

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.


Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

D&A Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.

The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.

When demand exceeds supply, that country is subject to a waiting list for EB-5.

There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.

Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.

How long are the delays?

It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.

Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.

Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.

The E-2 Visa has no waiting list and processing times are very fast

The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.

Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.

China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.

Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa

If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.

Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.

Benefits of the E-2 Visa

So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.

  • Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
  • You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
  • You can bring your spouse and children with you
  • Spouses can apply to work outside the business
  • You have freedom to travel to and from United States
  • There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
  • The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains

E2 to EB-5

Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.

The E-2 Business Could Qualify for EB-5 if it Meets the Requirements

That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.

Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.

Case study

Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.  

Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).

Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.

Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.

Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.

We wish her the best of luck in America.

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.