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.


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: Gateways to The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

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.