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.


FEMA-Compliant Immigration: Remitting Funds from India at the Beginning & End of the Financial Year

The Indian government limits the amount of money a person can take out of the country each year, which can present hurdles to emigration. But a quirk of the system offers an opportunity at the end of the tax year in March.

Since 2015, the Liberalised Remittance Scheme (LRS) introduced by the Royal Bank of India under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) limits the amount of money a person can take out of India each financial year to a maximum of $250,000. Whilst this is a vast sum of money for most, these limits can actually be too low for people seeking investment and business immigration.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa from India

Citizenship and residency by investment programs usually require considerably more than $250,000. For example, the United States EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, requires a minimum investment of $900,000 per family.

Theoretically, it would take four financial years for a single person to remit the necessary funds to pay for EB-5. But in practice, most applicants get friends and families to use their annual remittance allowance to build up the necessary funds in a shorter period of time.

This has implications for documenting the Source of Funds used to pay for EB-5. Each dollar needs to come from legitimate sources and should be adequately accounted for. Any funds being gifted by a relative need to go through the same rigorous scrutiny as your own.

Read more EB-5 Visa for Indians

Split Remittances

Yet some of our Indian clients adopt a different approach. The financial year in India resets on April 1. This means it is possible to transfer $250,000 in March and a further $250,000 a month later in April. That brings the total to $500,000 per person in a short space of time.

Many of our EB-5 clients move with a spouse who would be part of the same investment and application. (A single application and single investment leads to Green Cards for the primary applicant, any spouse and children under the age of 21). So, if both spouses remitted in this way, the applicant family is at $1,000,000 without the need to involve extended family.

The majority of our remaining clients are younger adults, often recent graduates hopeful of staying in the US, but concerned with H-1B or having used up the maximum time allowable on this visa. They often have parental support. Again, using the March/April time period, allows the applicant and a parent to make up the necessary funds.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa from India

Demand for EB-5 visa from india has become more stable after skyrocketing over the past five years. It is now the turn of the E-2 visa to become the new frontier in Indian immigration to the United States.

The E-2 Visa allows a person to move to the US with their family for the purposes of owning and operating a business. The investment level is usually much lower, and regularly falls well under the annual remittance allowance. Broadly speaking, it should be more than $100,000, but the key is to make sure the investment level would support the needs of the business you are buying or starting.

But here is the rub. Indians are not directly eligible because India does not hold a relevant treaty with the United States. Indian have to first become citizens of an E-2 Treaty country to become eligible. It is not as complicated as it sounds, and we have helped a number of Indian clients move to America in this way.

The E-2 country with the fastest and cheapest route to citizenship is Grenada in the West Indies. It requires an investment in real estate from $220,000 or a donation to the public funds from $150,000. Alone, either the investment or the donation route is below India’s annual remittance cap. But, when combined with your E-2 investment, you quickly surpass the annual limit.

Read more about Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Spouses using both their allowances can aggregate their annual allowance to $500,000 which should be sufficient. But where this is not possible, or where more money is required, the March / April split remittances may prove useful.

With the India to Grenada to E-2 route, there is also more room for manoeuvre with the timings. With EB-5 a client is expected to have all the funds pretty much at once depending on the EB-5 Regional Center you are investing with. But with Grenada and E-2, you can neatly divide the process into two sections and pursue Grenada and then E-2 in different financial years.

But note, the whole India to Grenada to E-2 process is fast. It can take less than nine months in total. So, with this in mind, so the March/April window can still be crucial in certain circumstances.

Living Expenses

So far, we have only talked about remitting the funds needed to secure the immigration status. You need a place to live and money to spend on personal expenses and school fees until you have found work or your business is turning a profit.

All these day-to-day expenses would need to be included in the remittance calculations, enhancing the case for splitting payments around the start and end of the financial year.

Wider World

The United States is not the only destination we serve at Davies & Associates, and it is by no means the only place Indians wish to emigrate. Whether you want to move to the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Italy or beyond, you need to consider the limitations posed by the Liberalised Remittance Scheme at the very start of the process.

The window for moving more than $250,000 money in a legally compliant way is now open, but will close again in April. People considering emigrating in the short to medium term may wish to make use of the FY2020-21 remittance allowance to keep their options open over the coming year.

Davies & Associates can help with all of this. Everyone’s circumstances are different. It is best to contact us to discuss your specific situation to work out how your immigration goals can be met in a FEMA-compliant way.


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.