Am I a Citizen of Country that Holds an E-2 Visa Treaty with the United States?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is one of the most sought-after US visa categories. Little wonder. The E-2 visa allows a person to own and operate a business in the largest economy in the world.

It can be renewed indefinitely provided the underlying business is in operation and still performing; Spouses can apply for work authorization outside the business; Dependent children can join you in America; You are not taxed in the same way as citizens and Green Card holders; You are free to travel to and from the United States; You can opt for an off-the-shelf franchise business or start your own.

Yet to qualify for this popular visa, you need to be a citizen of a country that holds a relevant treaty with the United States. Check out the list below to see if you are eligible.

List of E-2 Treaty Countries

Note: If your country is not on the list, Read on! We can still help.

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Grenada
  • Honduras
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Republic of Congo
  • Romania
  • Serbia
  • Senegal
  • Singapore Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

If your country is on the list then you can go directly to an E-2 Visa. If it is not on the list (and more than half the world’s population are citizens of countries that are not on the list), then you need to become a citizen of a country that is on the list first.

You see, unlike the EB-5 investor visa program, E-2 is determined by your country of citizenship. (While citizens of all counties are eligible for the EB-5 visa, each country is subject to an annual quota. Which EB-5 country quota you are subjected to is dependent on your country of birth rather than country of current citizenship.)

But with E-2 visa, obtaining dual citizenship or a new citizenship will make a difference to your eligibility.

So you need to become a citizen of one of the countries on the above list.

While several of these countries offer a pathway to citizenship, the timing and cost can be prohibitive. For example, you can invest your way to UK residency for £2 million. This sets you on a path to possible citizenship, that takes six years. You can reduce this time if you invest more. But even with a £10 million investment, it will still take 3 years to be eligible for citizenship.

That is quite the wait for the E-2 visa. Besides, if you ultimately looking to move to the United States and have such sums of money to invest, you might want to consider the EB-5 investor visa instead. Under this program, a family can all receive Green Cards in exchange for a $900,000 investment.

Yet there are two countries on the list that offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship: Turkey and Grenada. We have helped clients obtain E-2 visas via both countries. It takes a matter of months to complete the entire process.

Grenada offers citizenship in exchange for a real estate investment from $220,000 or a donation to the government of $150,000 (more depending on how many family members you are bringing). It takes less than three months to obtain the passport, you don’t need to visit during this process, and Grenada allows dual citizenship so you do not need to give up your existing citizenship (unless this is required by the other country).

Turkey offers citizenship in exchange for a $250,000 investment in Real Estate or a $500,000 in bank deposits held with a Turkish bank. The process takes only slightly longer and citizenship can be obtained in just a few months.

Both countries offer many benefits aside from the E-2 visa. Both are dynamic economies with considerable investment opportunities. Some of our clients prefer Turkey because it is an international transit hub often en route between their home country and the United States. Others prefer Grenada for its proximity to their new home in the United States.

A third option is Montenegro. It is newer and a bit more expensive that the other programs. It requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate as well as a €100,000 donation. Montenegro shares a border with the European Union and it is a candidate for membership.

Our attorneys can talk you through the whole process. Our clients who have pursued this route have found it surprisingly simply. To discuss your circumstances with our team, please contact us to arrange a free consultation.

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.


UK, Canada, Australia: the other gateways to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

While Grenada and Turkey understandably dominate the discussion around the E-2 Visa, other countries also offer a potential pathway to this desirable visa category.

To qualify for the sought-after E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country. You can find out if your country holds an E-2 Treaty with the United States by checking this list. If your country is not on the list, you would first need to become a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country to qualify.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it can be quite straightforward. At Davies & Associates we have a lot of experience with helping clients through a two-stage process of becoming a citizen of an E-2 Treaty Country then applying for the E-2 visa.

Most of our clients have opted for Grenadian or Turkish Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs for the simple reason that these countries offer the fastest and most cost-effective routes to citizenship.

Indeed, you could even be living in the US on an E-2 visa within just nine month because processing times for both the CBI programmes and the E-2 visa are very fast. (Covid notwithstanding).

So if it is speed and price you are looking for, then please contact our team to discuss the Grenada and Turkey options. (It should be noted here that both Grenada and Turkey both offer fantastic commercial, educational, and other benefits in their own right. This has been the subject of several other blogs in this feed. Please contact us to discuss this in greater detail).

But for some of our clients, other factors are at play in influencing their motivations, this includes family, education or business interests.

Take the United Kingdom for example. The UK is the oldest E-2 treaty country in the world. In fact, the Treaty dates back over two hundred (200) years. Anyone who becomes an UK citizen is then eligible to apply for the United States E-2 Treaty Visa.

The UK offers an investor visa program which is almost ten times as expensive as citizenship through real-estate investment in Grenada, and eight times as much as a similar type of investment in Turkey.

The United Kingdom also has a much longer pathway to citizenship. A person can claim indefinite leave to remain in the UK after five years and citizenship after six. (Although the time it takes to become a citizen can be reduced if you invest more.)

Despite this, some of our clients prefer the UK route because it makes sense based upon their personal interests and circumstances.

The UK investor visa example is useful for drawing a direct comparison with the Grenada and Turkey programs. But there are other ways to become a UK citizen.

For example, there are British visa categories that encourage start-ups or other types of businesses than can provide a route to citizenship. Starting a business in the UK can be a good springboard for an E-2 business in the United States (or you might wish to consider a new-office L-1 visa instead).

Or there are family-based immigration options. This is one of the more popular routes for our clients. Especially our Indian clients. And this is not limited to the United Kingdom. We have seen clients become citizens of Canada and Australia and then apply for an E-2 visa.

The best thing to do is to check out the list of E-2 treaty countries. If your country is on there, our team can discuss the E-2 process with you directly. If your country is not listed – have a look through the countries that are on there. Determine if you have any connections or interests in any of these countries, and then discuss with our team about whether these are viable options.

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a person to move to the United States with their family for the purpose of owning and operating a qualifying business. It has relatively low investment requirements, does not create a tax liability on earnings outside the US, and it can be renewed indefinitely. A spouse can apply for work authorization outside of the E-2 business, franchise businesses are eligible, and if you don’t have a business plan in mind, we can help.

Contact us to discuss your personal interests and 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.


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.


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.


Davies & Associates Sees First US E2 Visa Approval as US Embassies Reopen

US consular services are finally starting to get back to work after a Covid-enforced hiatus. Davies & Associates yesterday received its first approval since the pandemic caused a shut-down of all but essential operations at US embassies in March. But with US airspace still closed to travellers from many countries, a National Interest Exception is required for foreign nationals wishing to travel from a restricted country.

The successful, Switzerland-based client has established a pharmaceutical consultancy in New Jersey under the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa category. The E-2 Visa is one of few visa categories not suspended as part of President Trump’s so-called “immigration ban” to protect US workers from the effects of the pandemic.

While the Proclamation prohibiting entry of foreign nationals coming from the European Schengen area is still in effect, the Embassy has granted a National Interest Exception to allow the client to enter to the United States based on their strong E-2 application.

A National Interest Waiver will most likely be required for any new E-2 visa holder to be able to enter the US. That is if they come from a county that is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention blacklist. This also applies to anyone holding an existing E-2 visa, but currently located outside of the United States and seeking to return. It is advisable for people in this position to contact their immigration attorney to discuss their specific circumstances.

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the United States for the purposes of starting or acquiring a business. The applicant must be investing enough money to support the demands of the business, and they are able to bring their family with them to America. Spouses are able to apply for work authorization outside of the E-2 business.

Only select countries are eligible for the E-2 visa. For those clients from ineligible countries, Davies & Associates offers a simple package of obtaining citizenship of an E-2 Treaty Country. The quickest and most cost-effective of these packages is via Grenada in the West Indies or Turkey.

In other recent developments, the US authorities have removed the requirement for E-2 visa applicants to have a physical office space in the United States. Until now, E-2 businesses were required to prove this as part of their application. All other requirements remain, including the need for the applicant to own at least 50% of the business and that they “develop and direct” it themselves.

Despite the Covid-19 crisis, Davies & Associates has seen an increase in E-2 visa applications. Lockdown may have prompted people to review their options and provided more time to prepare the necessary application. An E-2 application requires a strong and credible business case, which can take time to prepare.

Verdie Atienza, Head of E-2 Visa Practice at Davies and Associates said, “Preparing a strong E-2 application requires time and careful planning. To be able to position your company for the expected economic recovery due to the pandemic, prospective E-2 applicants should take advantage of the current travel restrictions to prepare a strong E-2 application. Having an E-2 application in queue will get you in the best position to come to the US to develop and direct your company at the soonest possible time.”

Davies & Associates is a US-based immigration focused law firm with corporate capabilities. The firm specializes in helping its clients set up new businesses around the world and then procuring the necessary visas to move with their family to run those businesses.

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.


E2 Mythbusters: Investment Amounts

Mark Davies, Global Chairman, Davies & Associates

MYTH: “An E2 visa requires a minimum investment of USD 200,000, USD 300,000 or more to be safe”

This is a common “myth” in E2

Our firm files hundreds of E2 Visa cases with an investment of about USD 100,000 and to date we have never had an E2 visa refusal problem. While not necessarily recommended, we have had a case approved for an investment of USD 60,000.

For a successful E2 Treaty Investor Visa application there is no minimum investment but the investment must be “substantial” in relation to the business endeavor in question. What is a reasonable and “substantial” investment for one business might not be for another.

If you already have business in the United States then no further investment may be required in order for you to obtain an E2 visa.

Applicants from India, Vietnam, South Africa, or other non-E2 treaty countries who have obtained a Grenada, Turkey, Montenegro, or other third country nationality may need to restructure existing investments in the US so they are useable for E2 purposes.


E2 Visa: You Now No Longer Need a Physical Office Space

By Sukanya Raman, Associate, D&A Mumbai Office

On July 17th 2020, the Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) was updated by the United States Department of State (DOS). The updates state that an applicant need not have a physical office space to qualify for E Visa.

E-1  Treaty Trader and E-2 Treaty Investor visa applicants shall benefit the most. E-1 and E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas. Under an E-1 visa, applicants of the treaty country are permitted to enter the U.S. wholly to engage in international trade. Under the E-2 visa, applicants of the treaty country are permitted to enter the U.S. by investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.

The E visa the classification has a lengthy list of requirements, a few of the  general ones are as follows:

Treaty Agreement

Nationality of E visa qualifying country

50% ownership and/or control & possession

Trade is predominantly between the United States and the treaty country

Enterprise must be real and operating a commercial enterprise

Substantial capital investment

Must be in the position to “develop and direct” the enterprise

Physical office space (no longer mandatory)

Above mentioned are a few mandatory requirements for the E visa application. However, having a physical office space is now optional to qualify for an E visa application.

E visa can now be available for businesses with virtual offices in the U.S. This gives the flexibility to  the applicants to save a huge amount of money from the substantial capital investment in leasing office space and other associated costs to it. We see a lot of clients substantial capital investment amount was invested in leasing the office premises, which they can now utilize in the business for explanation or for development, provided the other requirement of the E visas are met.

The new FAM  reads as “An applicant does not necessarily need a physical office space to qualify for an E visa.  Although having physical office space may be relevant in determining whether the requirements for an E visa have been met, it is not a requirement to qualify for the visa.”

The E-2 Visa is available to citizens of Treaty Countries. Click here to see if your country is on the list. If your country is not on the list, it is possible to become eligible by first obtaining citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Click here to learn more about this process.

sraman@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.


Relaxation on H1-B and L-1 Visa

Podcast: Comparing E2 & L1 Visas in Light of the “Immigration Ban”

The L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa was temporarily suspended last month as part of President Trump’s ongoing so-called “immigration ban”. The list of visa categories suspended through to the end of the year is now quite lengthy.

However, there are notable exemptions: The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa and the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa are not included.

In this podcast we speak to Verdie Atienza, a senior immigration attorney at Davies & Associates, to examine whether the E-2 visa may prove a possible alternative to the L-1 visa in certain cases.

Verdie heads up our L-1 and E-2 practice team and so he is well placed to compare and contrast these two visa categories. Listen in as he provides a forensic comparative analysis of both.

L-1 Visas are used to move to management-level staff from an overseas branch to the US branch of the same company. At D&A we specialize in “new-office” L-1s which is where an individual can set up a US branch of their overseas company and then move to the United States to manage that new office.

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows a person to bring their family to the United States for the purposes of running a particular business. It is necessary that your country of citizenship has a relevant treaty with the US to qualify. For those that do not initially qualify, D&A offers a two-step process whereby you first obtain citizenship of a country that does qualify, like Grenada or Turkey.

Topics covered in the podcast include:

  1. The impact of the immigration suspension
  2. Investment requirements
  3. Premises requirements in the United States
  4. Spousal Rights
  5. Children’s rights and ageing out?
  6. Visa duration
  7. Renewal process and limits
  8. Business plan requirements
  9. Nationality requirements and quotas
  10. Becoming eligible for an E-2 visa through Citizenship by Investment
  11. Transitioning to a Green Card?

This podcast is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact us to speak to an attorney.


President Trump Reverses Ban on Foreign Students Taking Online Courses

President Trump has been forced to make a U-Turn on his attempts to revoke the immigration status of international students taking online courses in the fall. Most university courses across the United States have gone online in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and many are expected to stay that way for the fall semester.

Students and their parents from around the world had been left to reconsider their education plans as a result of the president’s initial announcement.

However, a federal legal challenge by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) caused the Trump administration to rescind the policy.

Almost 400,000 F-1 student visas were issued last year. International students bring billions of dollars to the US economy in tuition fees and spending.

Many of our clients use the F-1 visa to send their children to school in the United States before transitioning to other visa categories after graduation. Some of those visas, particularly the H-1B, is currently under suspension because of President Trump’s executive order of June 2020.

However, other visa categories are not suspended. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is a relatively fast route to a US Green Card requiring a $900,000 investment. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa requires a plan to invest in and run a US-based business. As we mentioned in a previous blog posts, it is possible for parents and children to co-own the company to prevent the child from ageing out. Citizens of certain countries have to first obtain additional citizenship, often of Grenada or Turkey. This is usually a relatively straightforward process, contact us to discuss.

Both the E-2 Visa and the EB-5 Visa are exempt from the so-called “immigration ban”. A high proportion of our EB-5 clients are motivated to apply because of their children’s studies and work prospects after graduation.

Written by Duncan Hill. This blog is for informational purposes only, nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances.


E2 Visa Myth Busting: Do I have to stay in Grenada?

By Mark Davies, Global Chairman, Davies & Associates

“I have to stay in Grenada for six months to get my E2 Visa” if I use the donation route for my Grenada CBI case.

One of our clients e-mailed me this morning having been given this completely false statement, probably by a salesman selling another country’s program.

For a E2 visa the only country that has a residency requirement is the United Kingdom (which is the oldest E2 treaty). We do recommend creating connections with Grenada which is a wonderful country to visit but residency there is not required.

You can obtain an E2 visa regardless of the manner you used to obtain your Grenada passport. We have clients living in the US on an E2 investment visa to prove it.

Our Indian, Vietnamese, South African and Bangladeshi* clients have been opening business in the USA for a decade. Since about 2014 Grenada citizenship-by-investment has been a top consideration.

Prior to the new USD 220,000 share ownership program most of our clients were exclusively interested in the CBI USD 150,000 donation option.

Click here to see if your country has an E2 Treaty with the United States.

Click here to learn more about the E2 visa coupled with Citizenship by Investment.

*Although Bangladesh is an E2 country there are reasons why clients sometimes still use the Grenada route.