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About our Immigration Services

IMMIGRATION: VISAS

Are you looking to come and build a business or take over a business in the U.S.? Or are you looking to acquire your U.S. Citizenship? If so, we can help you with your business set-up and your immigration paperwork. Below are some of the options that may apply to you for a business set-up and visa in the United States. Call us so we can get you started!

E-1 and E-2 Visas for Foreign Investors and Traders

Want to come to the United States and invest in a new business? Let us help you obtain your visa, review your requirements to invest and prepare and file all necessary documents for you. We also can take care of renewing your visa so you can stay longer – let us prepare everything before your visa expires.

In order to obtain an E visa you have two options: 1.) become a Foreign Investor governed by visa E-2 or 2.) become a Trader and governed E-1.

How to Become a Treaty Investor or Trader

Being a treaty investor (E-2) or treaty trader (E-1) allows a foreigner to come establish a business in the United States under certain considerations. This article considers the requirements to become a treaty investor.

Requirements to Qualify as a Treaty Trader (E-1):

1. National of a Treaty Country:

The investor can be a real person or a corporation, but must be a national of a treaty country.

2. Trading Firm Nationality of Treaty Country:

The trading firm/company must be of the nationality of a treaty country. For a list of treaty countries, please see the link below.

 

3. Substantial International Trade:

The international trade must be substantial, meaning it must be sizable trading and continuous.

4. Principal Trading with U.S.:

The trade must be principally with the U.S. and the treaty country. This means that the trade must be at least 50% with the U.S.

5. Exchange of Goods, Services or Technology:

Only trades for goods, services or technology classify under the visa and title of the trade items must pass from the trade firm to the treaty trader.

6.    More Than Ordinary Skilled Worker:

Ordinary skilled workers or unskilled workers do not qualify for the visa. The investor must develop and direct the enterprise and hold the position of principal investor or be employed as a supervisor, executive or highly specialized worker.

Requirements to Qualify as a Treaty Investor (E-2):

1.    National of a Treaty Country:

The investor can be a real person or a corporation, but must be a national of a treaty country.

2.    Substantial Capital:

The investment capital has to be considered substantial, meaning that it is sufficient to ensure successful operations of the enterprise that will take place in the United States. Note that the percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise, ironically, has to be higher than that for a high-cost enterprise.

3.    Significant Income:

The investment must generate substantial income, not solely enough to provide for the investor’s living expenses.

4.    Control of Funds:

The investor must have direct control of the funds. This means the investor may not obtain loans secured with assets of the investment enterprise.

5.    More Than Ordinary Skilled Worker:

Ordinary skilled workers or unskilled workers do not qualify for the visa. The investor must develop and direct the enterprise and hold the position of principal investor or be employed as a supervisor, executive or highly specialized worker.

How to Apply for the Visa – Same Process for E-1 and E-2 Visas:

The application process takes places through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over the permanent residence of the applicant investor. The investor then has to go through an interview process at the embassy consular section if the investor is between age 14 and 79. Others are subject to an interview only under special request from the embassy.

Note that the timeframe to obtain the visa and have a scheduled appointment may vary; thus, it is highly advised to apply early on. As part of the application process, the applicant will have an ink-free, digital fingerprint taken. Additional processes may apply depending on the applicant.

Required Documents to Apply for E-1 Visa:

- Nonimmigrant DS-160 Form

- Treaty Trader DS-156E Form, completed and signed by applicant

- Valid passport. If more than one person is listed on the passport, then each person has to complete a DS-160 Form.

- One (1) 2×2 photograph

Required Documents to Apply for E-2 Visa:

-       Documents establishing the investing company’s compliance with the visa requirements. These documents vary depending on the investment enterprise.

-       Form DS-160

-       Form DS-156E completed and signed if applicant is an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee.

-       Valid passport for travel to the U.S. valid for at least 6 months beyond applicant’s intended period of stay in the U.S. (some countries have exemptions). Note that if the passport includes more than one person, Form DS-160 must be completed for each person.

-       One (1) 2×2 photograph

-       Visa Application Fee

-       Visa Issuance Fee

Family Members – Applicable to both Visas:

Family members under 21 years of age may receive derivative E visas to accompany the applicant investor. The spouse may also apply to DHS for employment authorization. However, children are not authorized to work in the U.S.

List of Countries that qualify under the treaty:

http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3726.html

L-1 Visa

The L-1 visa is a second option. Under this set-up, the company in another country would have to transfer an employee to the U.S. In order to qualify, the employee must have worked for at least one (1) continuous year in the past three (3) years for the foreign company as a manager/supervisor. The employee’s role in the US company would also have to be as a manager/supervisor. I highly suggest to show the employee is needed to run the business in the US.

If the US company has been active for less than one (1), the first issued visa will also be for a duration of one (1) year. Note, however, that if the US business has been active for more than one (1) year, the first visa issued will be valid for three (3) years. The L-1 visa is renewable in increments of two (2) years for a total of seven (7) years. Another disadvantage of this visa is that the fees are much higher than for the E-2.

Under both options, a spouse would be able to obtain a work authorization as well and be able to work under any type of employment.

EB-1 Multinational Manager Greencard

An option to consider is to apply for an EB-1 Multinational Manager Greencard. This scenario works similarly to the L-1 visa. A foreign company would send an employee to a US company. However, please note that there needs to be some joint-ownership between the foreign and US company: one business owns the other, one individual has a controlling interest in both businesses, or the same group of individuals jointly hold a controlling interest in both businesses.

In order for this to option to become valid, the US business has to have been operational for at least one (1) year. Also, just like the L-1 visa, the employee/applicant would have to supervise/manage different levels of employees in the US company and have worked for the foreign company at least one (1) continuous year in the past three (3) years.

WHILE THESE  ARE THE MOST COMMON VISAS, OTHER OPTIONS MAY APPLY TO YOUR SITUATION.