Treaty Visas

Treaty Visas are nonimmigrant visas available to foreign nationals of designated countries which have a treaty of commerce with the United States.

E-1 Treaty Trader Visas

The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa allows foreign nationals of a treaty country to enter the United States and carry out substantial trade. A treaty country is one with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. The trade must be primarily between the United States and the treaty country where the person holds citizenship.

Trade includes commercial transactions in goods and trade in services and technology such as banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, communications, data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, technology transfer, and other measurable services that may be traded. This visa is also available to employees of a treaty trader.

E-1 visas can be issued for up to 5 years and are renewable indefinitely as long as the company and the individual continue to qualify for E-1 status. Spouses and dependent children under the age of 21 of E-1 visa holders are also eligible for E-1 dependent visas.  Spouses holding E-1 visas are eligible to apply for work authorization. 

E-2 Treaty Investors

Nationals of qualifying treaty countries who have made a substantial investment in the United States may qualify for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. A treaty country is one with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. There is no set minimum level of investment to qualify for an E-2 visa, but it must be proportional to the type and size of the business. The funds invested must be “at risk,” and the investment cannot be “marginal,” which means it has to have the present and future capacity to generate more than minimal living for the investor and family.

E-2 visas can be issued for up to 5 years and are renewable indefinitely as long as the company and the individual continue to qualify for E-2 status. Spouses and dependent children under the age of 21 of E-2 visa holders are also eligible for E-2 dependent visas. Spouses holding E-2 visas are eligible to apply for work authorization. 

E-3 Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia

The E-3 visa is available only to nationals of Australia who are temporarily entering the United States to work in a “specialty occupation.” A “specialty occupation” is one that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and one that requires a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) in that specialty as a minimum qualification for entry into the occupation. This is the same standard that governs eligibility for H-1B status. Similar to the H-1B visa, the E-3 visa requires that the sponsoring employer obtain a certified Labor Condition Application and comply with the regulations regarding payment of the required wage, maintenance of a public access file, and notice to employees, among other requirements.

E-3 visas are limited to 10,500 per fiscal year. Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of the E-3 visa holder are eligible to apply for E-3D dependent visas. E-3 visas are issued for a maximum period of 2 years and may be renewed in 2-year increments for an indefinite period of time.

Unlike the H-1B visa, E-3 visa holders must prove they do not have an intent to immigrate to the United States by maintaining a foreign residence abroad to which they intend to return at the end of the authorized period of stay. Prolonged periods in the United States in E-3 status may give rise to a presumption that the E-3 visa holder intends to remain in the United States as an “intending immigrant,” and this could lead to the denial of future applications for E-3 renewals.

EB-5 Investor Visa

The EB-5 program allows foreign investors to gain permanent residency in the United States by improving America’s economy and creating jobs. Enacted in 1992, the program allows foreign nationals to obtain a green card through an investment of either $500,000 or $1 million in a qualifying business venture.

Generally, a $1 million investment into a new commercial enterprise is required. If the business is located in a targeted employment area or rural area, then the project may qualify for the reduced investment amount of $500,000. A rural area is defined as a town of less than 20,000 and outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area of a larger city. A targeted employment area is an area with high levels of unemployment that are at least 150% of the national average.

Foreigners must invest in an active and lawful for-profit commercial business. This business could be a partnership, a holding company, a joint venture, a corporation, a sole proprietorship, or business trust. The business must be new, which means established after November 29, 1990.

The foreigner’s investment must create at least ten jobs for American workers within 2 years of the investment. This job creation could be either direct (your company creates new jobs) or indirect (your company’s activity creates new jobs) but you must be able to prove the job creation. Job preservation may also qualify if you are investing in a “troubled business” by preserving 10 or more jobs within 2 years. A troubled business is a business that has incurred a net loss during this period.

EB-5 immigrant investor Regional Centers are another alternative. While some investors prefer to start their own business or find their own investment, others wish to invest through the help of a Regional Center. A Regional Center will manage the day-to-day aspects of the business and ensure that the required number of jobs are created. Most Regional Centers are located in rural areas or targeted employment area, so that they qualify for the reduced investment amount of $500,000.

Regional Centers are approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), but they are not endorsed by USCIS. Whether you invest in a Regional Center or a private project, your money must be at risk.

It is vital that those interested in the EB-5 program research and investigate the Regional Center and investment thoroughly before going through with the process. Investors should consider the history of the program, their interest in the investment, the possible return of their investment, and the risk involved in the investment.

This is an ideal visa choice for individuals or families who wish to live and work permanently in the United States and who have a significant amount of money to invest in the United States.

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