Philippine National Seeking U.S. Visas: The Options

Verdie Atienza

By Verdie Atienza,Head of E-2 visas & Philippines Practice Group, Davies & Associates LLC

Once bound together, the Philippines and America have a unique and special relationship. After the Philippines was granted independence in 1946, the two countries established close cultural, military and economic ties, and so it is no surprise that many Filipinos want to live and work in America today.

Given the strong historic bonds between the Philippines and the United States, there are a number of options open to Filipinos seeking a working visa to the United States. At Davies & Associates, we specialize in helping businessmen, entrepreneurs and high-net-worth individuals secure investor visas to the United States.

We have been seeing increasing demand for investor visa from across the Philippines, and from among the Filipino-Chinese community in particular. The Filipino-Chinese community has a reputation for business ownership and entrepreneurship that makes them especially eligible for several types of investor visas to the United States.

Having been born and raised in the Philippines and having practiced law there, I am always pleased to hear from Filipinos interested in investor visas for the United States. I speak Tagalog and understand the special cultural and business climate of the Philippines. I work closely with our Filipino clients to determine the best visa for their individual requirements.


E-2 visas

The E-2 visa is the most common visa solution for members of the Philippine business community seeking to set up a business in USA. The Philippines has been an E-2 Treaty country of the United States since 1955. This allows Philippine nationals to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.

A Filipino investor qualifies for E2 classification if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

An investment is the Filippino investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.

A substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise.
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

E-1 Visas

The E-1 non-immigrant classification allows Philippine nationals to be admitted to the United States solely to engage in substantial trade between the U.S. and the Philippines on his or her own behalf. Trade is the existing international exchange of items of trade for consideration between the United States and the treaty country. Items of trade include but are not limited to:

  • Goods
  • Services
  • International banking
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Technology and its transfer
  • Some news-gathering activities.

EB-5 Visas

Filipinos seeking more permanent residency in the United States can seek a green card through the EB-5 visa program. Under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) are eligible to apply for a green card if they make a minimum 500,000 USD investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and, in doing so, create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs.

Most successful applicants to the EB-5 visa program place their investment in the Regional Center Program. EB5 Regional Centers are USCIS-approved funds who invest applicants’ money in appropriate commercial enterprises that meet the job-creation requirement.


L-1A and L-1B visas

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated Philippines offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one.

The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated offices in the Philippines to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a Philippines company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish one.


H-1B Visas

Every year, the U.S. government make work visas available for specialty occupations. A specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge along with at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Specialty occupations include but are not limited to, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, social sciences, medicine and health, education, business specialties, accounting, law, theology, and the arts. Considering the substantial equivalency of the college/university degrees obtained in the Philippines to that of US degrees, Filipinos are a step ahead in qualifying for visas for specialty occupations.


Specialist Visas for Medical Professionals

Filipino medical professionals are also at an advantage for obtaining professional licensure and immigration solutions for the US. In fact, Philippine-trained physicians and dentists comprise one of the largest groups in the United States. Today, the healthcare sector is one of the most critical areas of professional practice in the United States of America due to shortage of qualified professionals. Our FMP Practice Team is composed of established immigration lawyers and specialist consultants that work together to ease the burdensome barriers of entry for qualified professionals seeking to enter the United States.

Given a long and close history, there are many different options for Philippine nationals seeking to live and work in the United States. At Davies & Associates, our Tagalog-speaking team works closely with our clients to determine the best visa for their individual requirements.


EB-5 USA Green Card Visa – Key Features & Qualifying Criteria

If you are someone who wants to immigrate to USA for business related opportunities, then you must know about the EB-5 Visa that comes with all the essential features that you may require. The key features and qualifying criteria of the visa are as follows:

1. Investment

If you are immigrating to another country for business purpose, often the amount you are allowed to invest can get in the way. However, if you hold the EB-5 U.S.A. Green Card Visa, you can invest how much ever you want for any business. However, the minimum investment should be more than $500,000.

2. Time period

Often, other visa holders need to visit, leave and revisit the country. However, through the EB-5 visa, you needn’t leave the country after a certain term. You can manage your business there as you are holding the EB-5 visa.

3. Employment

People who hold the EB-5 visa can work the way they want. This is the significant advantage of this visa. You can run the business, invest and trade or you can also retire there. Holding this visa poses no legal problems for any position you work for.

4. Visa Denial

If you have the EB-5 green card visa, you need not worry about visa denials in future because it provides the holder with convenience whenever they want to immigrate for business. Also, another feature that comes with the green card is that the holder can and must reside in the country for 180 days per year. So, you can stay in the country without worries.

5. Eligibility

To apply for this visa, you must be financially well off to invest more than $500,000. You should also get the approval form from the “Immigration Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.” In your company at least ten U.S. employees should work within two years of investment. Also, you cannot run the business alone; you must have a business partner.

Hold the EB-5 Green Card Visa and make maximum out of its features that include holding any employment position you want, staying in the country without having to leave and starting your business with a partner. So, if you are looking for a good U.S business immigration attorney, then you must consult a US Immigration Advisor who has the best EB-5 immigration lawyers to guide you through the immigration process.