Investor Visa Attorneys
E-1 Visas: Treaty Trader Visas
E-1 visas are issued to foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States in order to engage in a “substantial trade” between their country of origin and the United States. “Substantial trade” is typically defined as an ongoing flow of significant international trade involving many transactions. Furthermore, aside from being substantial, the trade must also be “principle trade.” Per 8 CFR 214.2(e)(10), principle trade exists when greater than half of the volume of the treaty trader’s home country’s international trade is with the United States. The trade refers to the international exchange of goods, services, money, and technology. It can also include transportation, international banking transactions, insurance, tourism, technology transfer, and certain news-gathering undertakings.
E-2 visas permit foreign nationals to enter the United States in order to direct and develop a commercial enterprise or business in which they have invested or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of money or capital. Foreign nationals wishing to obtain E-2 visas must be a citizen of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce. Although there is no specific dollar amount required under U.S. immigration laws, the investment must be “substantial” and cannot be marginal. An investor can also buy an existing business or create a new business in the U.S. The E-2 visa grants both qualified treat investors and employees the ability to stay in the United States for an initial two-year period. The visa may be renewed for a period of up to two years. There is no limit on the number of times the E-2 visa can be renewed.
The Employment Based Fifth Preference Category, or EB-5, was created in the early 1990s by an act of Congress to attract foreign capital to the United States. The EB-5 Investor Visa program also has a job creation or preservation requirement in order to create more job opportunities and benefit the U.S. economy. In order to qualify under the EB-5 category, foreign investors must:
- Invest $1 million in either a new or existing U.S. business or commercial enterprise that will create at least 10 full-time U.S. jobs, or
- Invest $500,00.00 in a U.S. government designated Regional Center located in a Targeted Employment Area deemed to meet the job creation requirement, and
- Prove that the investment will benefit the U.S. economy
Typically, the immigrant investor must also prove the source of the investment funds including the fact that the funds are not from an illegal source. In additional to the above, the EB-5 investor may also choose to invest in what is known as a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). Investment in a TEA requires a monetary investment of only $500,000 as compared to the $1 million investment typically required. Thus, for investors who are currently living in a country with strict capital controls, such as China, investment in a TEA is a popular choice.
Engaging in the EB-5 process is complex and requires substantial amounts of due diligence. An investor should not typically sign any documentation or begin the process without first consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer. The process begins with the filing of Form I-526, Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Thereafter, following consideration of the attendant facts and circumstances, either I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status or DS-230/DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration should be filed. Upon the filing and approval of the I-485, conditional entry to the United States is granted. Thereafter, at least, 90 days prior to the two-year anniversary of green card status, Form I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions must be filed. Removal of the conditions in a timely manner is necessary or the EB-5 investor is likely to lose the immigration benefit of the EB-5 visa. A successful EB-5 petition will confer the right to permanently live and work in the United States to the EB-5 investor and his or her qualifying family members. For more information on the EB-5 Visa please be sure to reference our comprehensive reference guide here.