A few months ago, I wrote an article regarding the requirements of the E-Visa However, during my consultations, I am repeatedly asked similar questions from entrepreneurs about what it takes to start a business in the United States. Therefore, I decided to write this article to answer in more details, besides the basic immigration requirements, what one can do to start a business in the U.S.
What is an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?
If you have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative in the U.S., that relative may be able to sponsor you for permanent residence (green card) through the family-based process. However, if you do not have a relative in the U.S. that can sponsor you, you may still be able to obtain a visa to live and work legally in the United States. Sometimes, even if you have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative in the U.S., you may not be able immediately legally live and work in the U.S. due to extremely long visa availability wait times. Some individuals from countries like Mexico and the Philippines must sometimes wait 15 to 30 years for a visa to become available.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to invest in a business in the United States, you may qualify for an E-2 treaty investor visa. Treaty investors are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. However, there is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 visa may be granted.
The United States has treaties of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation with most of the other countries in the world. These treaties are designed to promote investment and trade between countries. Individuals and companies located in countries that have a treaty with the United States can apply for and obtain visas that allow them to work and live in the U.S.
There are two types of E-visas that are available for individuals and companies located in a country with a friendship treaty with the United States:
Our Los Angeles immigration attorneys have experience handling both E-1 and E-2 visa applications on behalf of foreign nationals. What are E-1 and E-2 visas? The United States has visa programs in place to promote trade and investment between nations with good relations. Individuals and even companies in countries that have treaties in the United States can obtain a treaty visa, which are called E-visas. These visas allow nationals of other countries to live and work in the United States. The two types of E-visas include the E-1 treaty trader visa and the E-2 treaty investor visa.
The E-1 Treaty Trader
Individuals who reside in a country that has a treaty with the United States may qualify for an E-1 visa if they undertake a large amount of international trade. Applicants will have to show that their businesses do so much trade with the United States that an employee is needed to live here to manage the business. Qualifying companies conduct at least 50 percent of their exports or imports to and from the United States. There is no set amount of trade that will automatically allow a company to qualify, but companies that have the highest volume of trade with the United States will have the best chance to qualify.
In 1990, Congress created the Immigrant Investor Program, known as EB-5. It was developed to stimulate the U.S. economy by encouraging foreign investors to create jobs here in the United States. Every year, thousands of investors from countries such as China are allowed to live in the United States as long as they stimulate growth by investing in new commercial enterprises.
If you are a resident of China who wishes to invest here in the United States, you will have to prove that:
- You are investing in a new commercial business that was established after November 29, 1990 or an enterprise that was established before then but has been recently restructured or reorganized.
The United States has active treaties with the majority of other countries. These treaties are often created to promote peace and commerce between nations. Some of these treaties are bilateral investment treaties that are specifically designed to create investment opportunities. Individuals and companies in countries that have a bilateral investment treaty may seek visas to work in the United States. The two types of E-visas that are available for nationals in these countries are the E-1 Treaty Trader and the E-2 Treaty Investor.
The E-1 Treaty Trader was designed for nationals of qualifying treaty countries who participate in international trade with the United States. Not just anyone who trades with the United States will qualify. Only those companies that can justify needing workers in the United States will be allowed to obtain an E-1 visa. In fact, a trader must show that the majority of his or her trade involves the United States. Typically, only those who have a high volume of trade with the U.S. will qualify.