It is no secret that when our Pinoy friends apply for an employment based visa that they face a scrutiny far more intense and thorough then their similarly situated counterparts. With the H-1B visa capped and apparent agency bias on Pinoy L-1's, finding the right visa has become even more difficult as applicants spend excessive time and money defending their selection of employment.
For many there is an alternative where the applicant has more control over his or her destiny, that choice is the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Often lost and overlooked in the array of the more popular employment based visas this vehicle is perfectly fit for entrepreneurs, business owners, managers and essential employees.
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa provides that where a treaty based upon friendship, commerce or navigation exists between the U.S. and a foreign country qualifying nationals may come to the U.S. to conduct trade or to manage investments.
The major benefit of the E-2 is that unlike the $1 million threshold for the permanent resident visa, there is no fixed minimum dollar amount for treaty investment. Those qualifying for the E-2 Investor visas can establish, plan and manage long-term business goals while in status as an E-2. To qualify for E-2 Treaty Investor Visa the applicant must show that:
- The applicant or his or her company is from a recognized treaty country or at least half of the company is owned by nationals from the qualifying nation.
- The applicant or the company has made or is in the process of making a substantial capital investment in bona fide business enterprise in the U.S. Substantial has been defined by the Immigration service as formula relative to the total value of the company.
- The applicant is either the principal investor who will direct and develop the enterprise, or an executive, supervisor, or employee whose services are essential to the efficient operation of the U.S. company.
- The proposed investment or business enterprise has the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide minimal living for the investor and his or her family, or has present or future capacity to make significant economic contribution.
Unlike the million dollar investor, the E-2 Investor Visa does not result in permanent residency and are generally issued for five years. Extensions of stay in the U.S. may be granted as long as eligibility continues and the treaty remains in force.
At the border, E visa holders are admitted to the U.S. for two years at each entry, even though the visa validity may be longer. Extensions of stay in the United States may be granted for up to two years at a time. An E visa may be reissued for up to five years at the Manila consulate with the appropriate supporting documentation showing that the business is an ongoing investment enterprise.
The E-2 visa holder may also bring his or her spouse and children that are unmarried and under the age of 21. They are not required to be from a treaty country and are eligible to work and attend school while in the U.S.
In a time where the H-1B cap is filled and L-1's are difficult to obtain, it may be time to examine the E-2 Investor Visa. When you do, make sure to employ a legal professional who has experience in this area to help smooth the ride.