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Nonimmigrant Investor Visas

Under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and subsequent amendments, foreign nationals who invest funds to set up business operations on U.S. soil may qualify for an E-2 immigrant visa. Cecil C. Harrigan, PC., offers customized and bundled immigration legal services for foreign nationals who qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa under U.S. laws.

Although there is no minimum investment amount required for approval of an E-2 petition, the law requires that the investor must not establish a business solely for the purpose of making a living for himself/herself and immediate family. The investment in the business enterprise must be significant enough to employ workers from the local labor force. In addition, a substantial portion of the investment should be made well in advance of the formal application through the consular process.

In order to qualify for E-2 visa status, the investor must be a legal resident of a treaty country, officially recognized by the United States.

The "E" category was established to give effect to treaties between the United States and foreign countries that provide for reciprocal benefits to nationals of each country who invest in the other country, or who conduct trade between the two countries.

The Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa is for a national of a country with which the United States (U.S.) maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation who is coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital, under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

E-1 Visa - Treaty Trader

Treaty trader applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty trader (E-1) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether a treaty trader applicant qualifies for a visa.

  • The applicant must be a national of a treaty country.
  • The trading firm for which the applicant is coming to the U. S. must have the nationality of the treaty country.
  • The international trade must be "substantial" in the sense that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
  • The trade must be principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, which is defined to mean that more than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the U.S. and the country of the applicant's nationality.
  • Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology. Title of the trade items must pass from one party to the other.
  • The applicant must be employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify.

Under the E-1 visa regulations, there is no minimum in terms of number or dollar amount of transactions required to meet the definition of "substantial." However, to be considered substantial, the trading enterprise must be of a sufficient size to ensure a continuous flow of numerous items of trade over time from one country to another.

The E-1 applicant's spouse and unmarried children under 21 also are entitled to E-1 status. E-1 spouses may apply for work authorization once they enter the U.S.

E-2 Visa - Treaty Investor

Treaty investor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty investor (E-2) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether a treaty investor applicant qualifies for a visa.

  • The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
  • The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
  • The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
  • The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
  • The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
  • The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

The E-2 visa is useful for individuals who will live in the United States for extended periods of time on behalf of an enterprise that represents a major investment in the United States. Persons who are citizens of a country with such a treaty who either individually make a substantial investment in the United States or are employed by such investors (provided they share nationalities with the majority investors) may be classified as E-2 treaty investors.

Under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and subsequent amendments, foreign nationals who invest funds to set up business operations on U.S. soil may qualify for an E-2 immigrant visa. Cecil C. Harrigan, PC., offers customized and bundled immigration legal services for foreign nationals who qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa under U.S. laws.

Although there is no minimum investment amount required for approval of an E-2 petition, the law requires that the investor must not establish a business solely for the purpose of making a living for himself/herself and immediate family. The investment in the business enterprise must be significant enough to employ workers from the local labor force. In addition, a substantial portion of the investment should be made well in advance of the formal application through the consular process.

In order to qualify for E-2 visa status, the investor must be a legal resident of a treaty country, officially recognized by the United States.

The E-2 applicant's spouse and unmarried children under 21 also are entitled to E-2 status. E-2 spouses may apply for work authorization once they enter the U.S.

The current list of countries recognized by the U.S. for E-2 Treaty Investor immigrant visa qualification includes:

ArgentinaArmeniaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijan
BangladeshBelgiumBoliviaBosnia & HerzegovinaBulgaria
CameroonCanadaChileTaiwanColombia
Brazzaville (Congo)Kinshasa (Congo)Costa RicaCroatiaCzech Republic
DenmarkEcuadorEgyptEstoniaEthiopia
FinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyGrenada
HondurasIranIrelandItalyJamaica
JapanJordanKosovoKrygyzstanLatvia
LiberiaLithuaniaLuxembourgMacedoniaMexico
MoldovaMongoliaMontenegroMoroccoNetherlands
NorwayOmanPakistanPanamaParaguay
PhilippinesPolandRomaniaSenegalSerbia
SingaporeSlovak RepublicSloveniaSpainSri Lanka
SurinameSwedenSwitzerlandThailandTogo
Trinidad & TobagoTunisiaTurkeyUkraineUnited Kingdom

Establishing the credentials to qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa is complex. Cecil C. Harrigan, PC has a record of successfully negotiating the USCIS regulations and preparing the petition with thorough preparation.

Our lawyers represent clients in Washington, D.C., and surrounding communities in Virginia and Maryland. Call us at 202-387-8866 or contact us by e-mail to arrange an initial consultation with an experienced Washington, D.C., business immigration attorney. If you hire us to provide immigration legal services, the initial consultation fee will be credited to your retainer.

EB 5 Investor Immigrant Visas

The Immigration Act of 1990 ("IMMACT 90") created the Immigrant Investor Program as the fifth preference category for employment-based immigration, also known as EB-5. This was the first time a category specifically facilitated the admission of immigrant investors as lawful permanent residents and currently remains the only such category to do so. EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program is available to those immigrants who have invested, or are in the process of investing at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise employing at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. Individuals who invest in a targeted employment area only need to invest a minimum of $500,000.

The EB-5 visa essentially offers a good immigration solution for those who have the financial resources. It does not require an employment offer from a U.S. employer as other EB categories do, nor does it require a labor certificate. After issuing four precedent decisions by the former INS Administrative Appeals Unit in 1998, it became very difficult for investors to qualify under EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. However, with the current economic downturn, USCIS has relaxed its requirements for the EB-5 program as a means to bring in more foreign investment. Most importantly, because the annual quota consistently exceeds the number of applicants, those who qualify for EB-5 status do not typically have to wait long for a visa as there is currently no visa quota backlog for this category.

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