Obtain a Visa as a Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor
If you desire to enter the United States to engage in international trade on your own behalf or in some circumstances for your employer or to invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business, you may be eligible for an E-1 or E-2 non-immigrant visa. These visas are open to nationals from countries which have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC can help you enter the country on lawful immigration status and later apply for an adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence if you so desire.
E-1 and E-2 visas for treaty traders and treaty investors are available to eligible individuals as well as the employees of a treaty trader or investor or a qualifying organization. Once lawfully in the country, it is possible for a person on an E-1 or E-2 visa to apply for a change of status with an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker.
Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors Defined
There are several types of investor visas for eligible treaty traders and treaty investors. A treaty trader (E-1 visa holder) is one who enters the U.S. for the purpose of carrying on a substantial trade in goods, services or technology, for the most part between the U.S. and the treaty trader’s country of origin. A treaty investor (E-2 visa holder) is one who enters the country for the purpose of directing the operations of an enterprise into which the investor has invested or is investing a substantial amount of capital.
E-2 Visas Versus EB-5 Visas
Depending on your circumstances, you might be eligible for either an E-2 or EB-5 visa. Each visa has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. While we generally outline the respective nuances of E-2 and E-5 visas below, it’s always in your best interest to consult with an investor visa lawyer before you apply. An immigration lawyer can help you assess your unique circumstances and goals and create an immigration that meets your needs.
Generally speaking, U.S. immigration laws require the following:
A non-immigrant visa that allows certain foreign nationals to live and work in the United States for extended periods of time when they invest a “substantial amount” in a U.S. venture or are a “key employee” of a foreign company with significant U.S. business investments. There isn’t an annual limit on the number of E-2 visas the U.S. government issues.
You must invest between $500,000 and $1 million in a U.S. business in which you take an active role. Once you have an EB-5 visa, you immediately become eligible for a conditional green card (legal permanent residency) once you enter into the United States. After holding a green card for five years, you can apply for U.S. citizenship. E-5 visas are capped annually at 10,000 visas and certain country-specific caps might also apply.
An advantage of the E-2 visa is that it allows for substantial investments that are less than the $500,000 and $1,000,000 thresholds required for an EB-5 visa. While E-1 and E-2 visas are nonimmigrant visas, an individual temporarily in the country who later invests more than those minimum amounts required for an EB-5 may be able to petition for lawful permanent residence. As with EB-5 visa holders, E-1 and E-2 applicants may also bring their spouses and unmarried children under 21 with them through derivative visas.
It’s also important to remember that EB-5-related green cards are conditional. You are automatically eligible for a green card. However, the U.S. government can revoke it after two years if your business venture is unsuccessful and you don’t meet other requirements of U.S. immigration law.
EB-5 Visas and Active Involvement in the Business
To qualify for an EB-5 visa, you must show that you will be actively involved in the business you’re investing in. You can’t simply be a passive or silent investor. You must have some sort of managerial or policy-making role in the business. In most circumstances, passive real estate speculation will not be sufficient to qualify for an EB-5 visa.
However, there is somewhat of an exception to this rule. Investors might still qualify for an EB-5 visa if they become a limited partner in a USCIS-approved regional center. These businesses are located within urban or rural areas of the United States with high unemployment and must meet other strict requirements. A limited partner plays a much less significant role in the management of a business than a traditional manager or business owner.
When you invest in a regional center, there is another benefit. Rather than the typical $1 million investment, you only need to make a $500,000 to qualify for an EB-5 visa. For more information about regional centers, “active involvement,” and EB-5 visas, consult with an investor visa lawyer.
What Happens If There Aren’t Enough EB-5 Investor Visas When I Apply?
It’s not uncommon for the U.S. government to run out of investor visas. This is particularly true if you’re from certain countries where U.S. investor visas are popular — such as China. If there are insufficient investor visas to meet demand, you’ll be placed on a waiting list. Your application date becomes your “priority date,” and they are issued to eligible investors on a first-come, first served basis.
If you have questions or concerns about your priority date, contact an investor visa lawyer at the Lozano Law Firm. We can assess your situation and educate you about your immigration options.
Can U.S. Immigration Reject My Investor Visa Application?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scrutinizes investor visa applications– especially those for EB-5 visas. If they suspect that you obtained your funding through illegal means or your application is fraudulent, they might reject it. Historically, there has been significant abuse and misuse of the United States’ investor visa programs. This has led to a higher level of review for these visas.
A single mistake, omission, or misstatement might cost you your visa. Since you’re planning on making a significant investment in the U.S. economy, it’s worthwhile to consult with an investor visa lawyer before you file an application with USCIS. A lawyer can also help you review a previously rejected application and revise your immigration strategies. For more information, contact the Lozano Law Firm today.
The U.S. government can also revoke your investor visa or legal permanent residency if you violate certain state and federal laws. If you’re concerned that your visa is in jeopardy, contact an investor visa lawyer immediately. You might have legitimate defenses or other immigration options.
What Countries’ Investors Qualify for E-2 Visas?
As we noted above, not every foreign national qualifies for an E-1 or E-2 visa. Your country of origin must have entered a treaty with the United States authorizing these visas. As of 2018, eligible countries include:
- South Korea
For a complete list of U.S. investor visa treaty partners, you can either contact an experienced investor visa lawyer or review the U.S. State Department’s website.
Most of the European Union also has investor visa treaties with the United States. Notably, mainland China does not have E-1 or E-2 visa treaties with the United States. If you are a citizen of mainland China and want to pursue an E-2 visa, you’ll have to go through additional steps and procedures. You should consult with an investor visa lawyer before you start this complicated and expensive process.
Get Help for Your Immigrant Investor Needs From an Experienced San Antonio Immigration Lawyer
For professional advice and assistance throughout the process of becoming a temporary or permanent resident for the purpose of investment in a U.S. business, or for the purposes of international trade, contact The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC in San Antonio, San Angelo, or Eagle Pass.