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Business Visa Options
E1 Visa – Treaty Traders
Nationals of qualifying treaty countries who undertake a significant amount of international trade with the United States may qualify for an E1 visa. The volume of trade must be sufficient to justify the trader or his/her employee(s) being in the United States to manage the trade. This volume must constitute the majority of the trader’s international trade (at least 50% of the Trader’s exports/imports must be to/from the USA). While there is no set minimum level of trade that is considered sufficient, from our experience the lower the volume of trade, the less likely an applicant is to qualify as a Treaty Trader.
Every year, the United States holds billions of commercial trading transactions with many countries in the world. Some countries are considered “Strategic Partners” and have treaties with the US in navigation, friendship and exchange of goods and services.
Nationals of the listed countries can apply for an E1 visa to conduct significant business and trading with their country of origin and the US. The more substantial the trading, the most likely is to get the E1 visa approved.
WHO CAN QUALIFY FOR THE E1 VISA?
Traders must be nationals of the listed countries above and must be able to demonstrate:
- There will be a substantial number of trade transactions between the US and the treaty country.
- There will be a substantial dollar value to the trade between the US and the treaty country.
- The majority of international trade transactions undertaken by the applicant will be between the US and the treaty country.
- The majority of the dollar value of trade will be between the US and the treaty country.
- The trader has sufficient business acumen and experience to develop and direct the trade.
- The trader, and any other E1 staff, are able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E1 status.
- The trader has a past history of conducting trade between the US and the treaty country.
E2 Visa – Treaty Investor
Nationals of qualifying treaty countries who have made a significant investment in the United States may qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status. There is no set minimum level of investment which may qualify for E2 status, but from our experience the lower the investment the less likely the applicant is to qualify.
The level of investment must be sufficient to justify the treaty national or his/her employees presence in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business. The applicant must direct and control the business or hold certain management positions. A substantial part of the investment must have been made before applying for E2 status.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR THE E2 VISA
To qualify for the E2 visa, the applicant generally must meet the following qualifications:
- Nationality: The applicant must be a national of a country that maintains a treaty status with the United States. If you are unsure, you should check with our immigration lawyers to learn about the status of your home country.
List of E Treaty Countries
|Albania||E-2||January 4, 1998|
|Argentina||E-1||October 20, 1994|
|Argentina||E-2||October 20, 1994|
|Armenia||E-2||March 29, 1996|
|Australia||E-1||December 16, 1991|
|Australia||E-2||December 27, 1991|
|Austria||E-1||May 27, 1931|
|Austria||E-2||May 27, 1931|
|Azerbaijan||E-2||August 2, 2001|
|Bahrain||E-2||May 30, 2001|
|Bangladesh||E-2||July 25, 1989|
|Belgium||E-1||October 3, 1963|
|Belgium||E-2||October 3, 1963|
|Bolivia||E-1||November 09, 1862|
|Bolivia||E-2||June 6, 2001|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Brunei||E-1||July 11, 1853|
|Bulgaria||E-2||June 2, 1994|
|Cameroon||E-2||April 6, 1989|
|Canada||E-1||January 1, 1993|
|Canada||E-2||January 1, 1993|
|Chile||E-1||January 1, 2004|
|Chile||E-2||January 1, 2004|
|China (Taiwan)||E-1||November 30, 1948|
|China (Taiwan)||E-2||November 30, 1948|
|Colombia||E-1||June 10, 1848|
|Colombia||E-2||June 10, 1848|
|Congo (Brazzaville)||E-2||August 13, 1994|
|Congo (Kinshasa)||E-2||July 28, 1989|
|Costa Rica||E-1||May 26, 1852|
|Costa Rica||E-2||May 26, 1852|
|Croatia||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Croatia||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Czech Republic||E-2||January 1, 1993|
|Denmark||E-1||July 30, 1961|
|Denmark||E-2||December 10, 2008|
|Ecuador||E-2||May 11, 1997|
|Egypt||E-2||June 27, 1992|
|Estonia||E-1||May 22, 1926|
|Estonia||E-2||February 16, 1997|
|Ethiopia||E-1||October 8, 1953|
|Ethiopia||E-2||October 8, 1953|
|Finland||E-1||August 10, 1934|
|Finland||E-2||December 1, 1992|
|France||E-1||December 21, 1960|
|France||E-2||December 21, 1960|
|Georgia||E-2||August 17, 1997|
|Germany||E-1||July 14, 1956|
|Germany||E-2||July 14, 1956|
|Greece||E-1||October 13, 1954|
|Grenada||E-2||March 3, 1989|
|Honduras||E-1||July 19, 1928|
|Honduras||E-2||July 19, 1928|
|Iran||E-1||June 16, 1957|
|Iran||E-2||June 16, 1957|
|Ireland||E-1||September 14, 1950|
|Ireland||E-2||November 18, 1992|
|Israel||E-1||April 3, 1954|
|Italy||E-1||July 26, 1949|
|Italy||E-2||July 26, 1949|
|Jamaica||E-2||March 7, 1997|
|Japan||E-1||October 30, 1953|
|Japan||E-2||October 30, 1953|
|Jordan||E-1||December 17, 2001|
|Jordan||E-2||December 17, 2001|
|Kazakhstan||E-2||January 12, 1994|
|Korea (South)||E-1||November 7, 1957|
|Korea (South)||E-2||November 7, 1957|
|Kosovo||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Kosovo||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Kyrgyzstan||E-2||January 12, 1994|
|Latvia||E-1||July 25, 1928|
|Latvia||E-2||December 26, 1996|
|Liberia||E-1||November 21, 1939|
|Liberia||E-2||November 21, 1939|
|Lithuania||E-2||November 22, 2001|
|Luxembourg||E-1||March 28, 1963|
|Luxembourg||E-2||March 28, 1963|
|Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY)||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY)||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Mexico||E-1||January 1, 1994|
|Mexico||E-2||January 1, 1994|
|Moldova||E-2||November 25, 1994|
|Mongolia||E-2||January 1, 1997|
|Montenegro||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Montenegro||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Morocco||E-2||May 29, 1991|
|Netherlands||E-1||December 5, 1957|
|Netherlands||E-2||December 5, 1957|
|Norway||E-1||January 18, 1928|
|Norway||E-2||January 18, 1928|
|Oman||E-1||June 11, 1960|
|Oman||E-2||June 11, 1960|
|Pakistan||E-1||February 12, 1961|
|Pakistan||E-2||February 12, 1961|
|Panama||E-2||May 30, 1991|
|Paraguay||E-1||March 07, 1860|
|Paraguay||E-2||March 07, 1860|
|Philippines||E-1||September 6, 1955|
|Philippines||E-2||September 6, 1955|
|Poland||E-1||August 6, 1994|
|Poland||E-2||August 6, 1994|
|Romania||E-2||January 15, 1994|
|Senegal||E-2||October 25, 1990|
|Singapore||E-1||January 1, 2004|
|Singapore||E-2||January 1, 2004|
|Slovak Republic||E-2||January 1, 1993|
|Slovenia||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Slovenia||E-2||November 15, 1882|
|Spain||E-1||April 14, 1903|
|Spain||E-2||April 14, 1903|
|Sri Lanka||E-2||May 1, 1993|
|Suriname||E-1||February 10, 1963|
|Suriname||E-2||February 10, 1963|
|Sweden||E-1||February 20, 1992|
|Sweden||E-2||February 20, 1992|
|Switzerland||E-1||November 08, 1855|
|Switzerland||E-2||November 08, 1855|
|Thailand||E-1||June 8, 1968|
|Thailand||E-2||June 8, 1968|
|Togo||E-1||February 5, 1967|
|Togo||E-2||February 5, 1967|
|Trinidad & Tobago||E-2||December 26, 1996|
|Tunisia||E-2||February 7, 1993|
|Turkey||E-1||February 15, 1933|
|Turkey||E-2||May 18, 1990|
|Ukraine||E-2||November 16, 1996|
|United Kingdom||E-1||July 03, 1815|
|United Kingdom||E-2||July 03, 1815|
|Yugoslavia||E-1||November 15, 1882|
|Yugoslavia||E-2||November 15, 1882|
- Investment: The applicant must invest a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. The exact amount depends upon the type of business and location.
- Position: The treaty investor E2 visa is not available to just any employee of a foreign business. The applicant must direct and control the business or hold certain management positions.
Generally, an E2 visa applicant is considered to have made an investment if the applicant placed money or other assets with an organization doing business in the U.S. The investment must be “at-risk” meaning that it may be subject to loss, and the investment must be made with the purpose of generating a profit and jobs in the U.S.
AMOUNT OF INVESTMENT
Investors must make a “substantial” investment to obtain an E2 visa. The investment may be either an investment in creating an enterprise or infusing funds into an existing enterprise. Immigration officials will look at whether the amount of funds are sufficient to ensure that the applicant has a stake in seeing the success of the investment and that the investor will take a role in directing and developing the enterprise.
DO I MERELY NEED TO PROVIDE USCIS WITH A BUSINESS PLAN AND A FUTURE INTENT TO INVEST FUNDS INTO THE U.S.?
No. Although a business plan is an important part of an E2 visa petition, for a new company, it is insufficient to indicate a future intent to invest a particular sum of money. As provided by applicable regulatory language, uncommitted funds are not considered sufficient even if proof of these funds are shown to exist in a bank account. In order to satisfy the E2 visa standards, the funds have to be irrevocably committed to the new enterprise.
HOW CAN I POSSIBLY IRREVOCABLY INVEST A SUBSTANTIAL SUM OF MONEY INTO AN ENTERPRISE IN THE U.S. IF I AM NOT SURE TO BE GRANTED THE VISA THAT ALLOWS ME TO ENTER AND OPERATE THE BUSINESS?
The regulations do make it clear that placing funds into an escrow account (a common type of third party holding account in the U.S.), will be considered satisfactory. So the way this could help is that a person could place their investment amount into an escrow account which irrevocably commits funds to a particular purpose, e.g. the purchase of office space or a store front, as long as a specific contingency is satisfied, such as being granted the E2 visa. This provides a legal mechanism by which the investor can show that funds have been irrevocably committed, while it protects the investor’s money in case the E2 visa is not granted, as the funds are then returned due to the failure to satisfy the contingency.
DO I HAVE TO INVEST ONE MILLION DOLLARS INTO A COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE TO GET THE E2 VISA?
No. Many people confuse the E2 visa process with the EB-5 green card investment category. The EB-5 green card category is an immigrant visa petition which, if approved, provides the investor with Legal Permanent Residence.
For the E2 visa a substantial investment amount is required. The regulatory language does not provide a specific dollar amount, as opposed to the EB-5 category, however they do provide a test that is to be used. This test is termed the relative/proportionality test and considers the following elements:
(i) Whether the capital investment is substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of enterprise under consideration;
(ii) Whether the capital investment is sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise; and
(iii) Whether the capital investment is of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. Generally, the lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered a substantial amount of capital.
WHAT IF I INHERIT A BUSINESS THAT IS WORTH A SUBSTANTIAL SUM OF MONEY?
Unfortunately, inheriting a business in the U.S. does not qualify as an investment for E2 visa purposes, however, inherited funds can be used to in turn invest in establishing a U.S. commercial enterprise for E2 visa purposes.
DOES THE BUSINESS HAVE TO SHOW THAT IT WILL BE MAKING A CERTAIN SUM OF MONEY IN ORDER TO BE APPROVED?
Per the regulatory language, a commercial enterprise is not allowed to be marginal in nature. What this means is that a qualifying E2 visa commercial enterprise will have the capacity to generate more income for the investor and family then merely an amount required to live. Accordingly, whether the investment will create future job opportunities, and whether the enterprise will generate sums of money far above that which could be considered a living wage are important factors.
CAN I INVEST CAPITAL AND APPOINT A DIFFERENT PERSON TO ENTER THE U.S. AND OPERATE THE BUSINESS?
Yes, assuming that the person being appointed is of the same nationality as the treaty employer and is either (1) an Executive or Supervisor or (2) an Essential Employee.
WHO IS CONSIDERED TO BE AN EXECUTIVE OR SUPERVISOR?
Pertinent regulatory language provides that the position needs to be “principally and primarily” as opposed to merely “incidentally or collaterally” executive or supervisory in nature. The following considerations must be taken into account when determining whether the position satisfies the requirements:
- Does the position provide the person authority to determine policy and direction?
- Does the position provide supervision for a significant portion of the operation?
- Does the position provide supervision over low-level employees or is it of a higher supervisory nature?
- Does the person possess the proper executive/supervisory skills and experience?
- What is the salary of the position?
- What is the relationship of the position to the greater organizational structure?
- What percentage of the persons duties are routine staff work?
WHO QUALIFIES AS AN ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEE?
To be considered an essential employee the person must show that they have a particular proven degree of expertise in the particular job duties required by the enterprise and that those duties are very specific in nature, thereby supporting the need for the particular persons abilities.
EB5 Investor Visa – Green Card
The EB5 investor visa program enables foreigners who make an investment in a U.S. business to obtain a green card and become lawful permanent residents, and eventual citizens, of the United States. The investment can lead to a green card for the investor to permanently live and work in the United States with their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21.
Entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence).
Up to 10,000 EB5 investor visas may be authorized each fiscal year for eligible entrepreneurs.
You must invest $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). In return, USCIS may grant conditional permanent residence to the individual.
EB5 INVESTOR VISA ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
You may be eligible to receive permanent residence based on investment if:
- You have an approved Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- You are admissible to the United States
- An immigrant visa is immediately available
EB5 INVESTOR VISA APPLICATION PROCESS
If You Are Living Outside the United States
You can become a permanent resident through consular processing if you live outside the United States. Consular processing is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, petition when a visa is available.
If You Are Living in the United States
You can become a conditional permanent resident through adjustment of status if you live inside the United States. Once the Form I-526 is approved and a visa number is available, you can apply for conditional permanent residence on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Supporting Evidence for Form I-485
You should submit the following evidence/documentation with your application:
- Two passport-style photos
- Form G-325A, Biographic Information, if you are between 14 and 79 years of age
- Copy of government issued photo identification
- Copy of birth certificate
- Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa (if applicable)
- Copy of passport page with admission (entry) or parole stamp (if applicable)
- Form I-94, Arrival/ Departure Record (if applicable)
- Certified copies of court records (if you have been arrested)
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- Applicable fees
- The approval notice for Form I-526 (Form I-797)
FAMILY OF ENTREPRENEURS
Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, (known as derivatives) may be included on your immigration petition. If they are residing in the US, they will each need to file a Form I-485. They are counted towards the annual cap of 10,000.
WORK & TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION
Generally, when you have a pending Form I-485, it is possible for you to apply for authorization to work in the United States and to seek advance parole (advance permission to travel and be admitted to the United States upon your return). For further information, see the “Work Authorization” and “Travel Documents” links to the left under “Green Card Processes & Procedures.”
L1A Visa for Managers and Executives
The L1 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows companies operating both in the US and abroad to transfer certain employees from its foreign operations to US operations for up to 7 years. The employee must have worked for a subsidiary, parent, affiliate or branch office of your US company outside of the US for at least one year out of the last three years.
There are two types of L1 visas. The L1A visa allows U.S. employers to transfer their foreign executives and managers to their offices in the U.S. The L1B visa allows US employers to transfer their professional employees with specialized knowledge to their offices in the US
As a firm, we have extensive experience with L1A visas and have provided the information below to give you a general overview of how and for whom this works. For more specific information or for answers to other questions, feel free to contact our law offices today.
EMPLOYER QUALIFICATIONS FOR A L1 VISA
Both the employer and the employee have to meet specific requirements to qualify for the L1A visa. The requirements for the employer include:
- The U.S. employer must have a qualifying relationship with the foreign company such as being the parent company, being a branch of the foreign company, or otherwise have an affiliation with the foreign company.
- The U.S. employer must be currently doing business in the U.S. as well as a foreign country for the duration of the employee’s stay in the U.S.
If the employer is seeking a L1A, it may not be necessary for the foreign company to show that it has current affiliations with a U.S. office. Instead, the employer can show that it is sending over an employee with specialized knowledge to help establish one.
EMPLOYEE QUALIFICATIONS FOR A L1A VISA
An alien who within the preceding three years has been employed abroad for one continuous year by a qualifying organization may be admitted temporarily to the United States to be employed by a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of that employer in a managerial or executive capacity, or in a position requiring specialized knowledge.
Qualifications that the employee must meet to qualify for a L1A visa include:
- The employee typically must have worked for the foreign organization for at least one full year within the past three years of seeking admission into the U.S.
- For the L1A visa, the employee must be in an executive or managerial role. An executive means that the employee can make decisions and does not require a lot of oversight. A manager typically refers to an employee who supervises and controls the workforce or component of an organization’s workforce.
BLANKET PETITION FOR A L1A VISA
A petitioner that meets the following requirements may file a blanket petition seeking continuing approval of itself and some or all of its parent, branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates as qualifying organizations if:
- The petitioner and each of those entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;
- The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
- The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
- The petitioner and the other qualifying organizations have obtained approval of petitions for at least ten “L” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals (L1B Visa) during the previous 12 months; or
- Have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or
- Have a United States work force of at least 1,000 employees.
Spouses and children of the L1A visa holder may obtain an L2 visa to enter and remain in the US. L2 Spouses may apply for a work permit while residing in the United States in L2 nonimmigrant status. L2 spouses and children may also attend school in the US.
L1B Visa for Specialized Knowledge Staff
The L1B visa is suitable for special knowledge employees who have a detailed understanding of the company’s products and services, as well as the international markets for their products and/or services. The L1B visa beneficiary can have advanced knowledge of procedures and operations of the company, or demonstrate extensive experience with software or proprietary technologies that can only be obtained through years of experience with the employer. The L1B visa is initially valid for three years (or one year for new offices) and can be extended to a total stay of five years.
Although the L1B visa was designed for large multinational corporations, it may also be used by smaller companies with needs to send upper level personnel to the United States.
A petitioner that meets the following requirements may file a blanket petition seeking continuing approval of itself and some or all of its parent, branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates as qualifying organizations if:
The petitioner and each of those entities are engaged in commercial trade or services;
The petitioner has an office in the United States that has been doing business for one year or more;
The petitioner has three or more domestic and foreign branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates; and
The petitioner and the other qualifying organizations have obtained approval of petitions for at least ten “L” managers, executives, or specialized knowledge professionals (L1A Visa) during the previous 12 months; or have U.S. subsidiaries or affiliates with combined annual sales of at least $25 million; or have a United States work force of at least 1,000 employees.
Spouses and children of the L1B visa holder may obtain an L2 visa to enter and remain in the US. L2 Spouses may apply for a work permit while residing in the United States in L2 nonimmigrant status. L2 spouses and children may also attend school in the US.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR OBTAINING AN L1B VISA?
An alien who within the preceding three years has been employed abroad for one continuous year by a qualifying organization may be admitted temporarily to the United States to be employed by a parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of that employer in a position requiring specialized knowledge.