Articles Posted in Treaty Investors

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, and Happy New Year! We are excited to have you back. We hope you had a wonderful holiday break with your family and are ready to jump back into the latest in immigration news in the new year. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the latest update regarding the operational status of U.S. Consulates and Embassies worldwide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


Overview


First let’s start with some good news. In October of last year, the Biden administration took some major steps toward opening the United States to international travelers, lifting many of the COVID-19 related geographic travel bans that were put in place by the Trump administration to reduce the rapid spread of COVID-19. To provide relief to visa holders, President Biden later signed a Proclamation allowing fully vaccinated international travelers to enter the United States beginning November 8, 2021, regardless of their country of origin. At the same time the Proclamation, revoked the previous geographic travel bans including Proclamation 9984, Proclamation 9992, Proclamation 10143, and Proclamation 10199 for those fully vaccinated.

Unfortunately, U.S. Embassies and Consulates have been slow to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many posts still limiting operational capacity based on country conditions and local regulations. Services have not returned to pre-pandemic levels and there is simply no semblance of normalcy at the Consular level. This has been extremely frustrating for visa applicants who have been waiting in the massive visa backlogs for an interview.  According to Department of State statistics, approximately 90% of Consular posts continue to be subject to pandemic related restrictions with some partially open and others providing very limited services.

Because most Embassies and Consulates are not fully operational, many applicants currently in the United States that have filed and received approvals for work visa related petitions with USCIS such as H-1B, O-1, E-2 petition-related approvals, etc. have not been able to leave the United States to return to their home country for visa stamping. This has caused even greater frustration among applicants who are essentially “trapped” in the United States due to their inability to obtain an appointment for visa stamping. That is because applicants encounter greater risks when they choose to leave the United States, due to the uncertain and indefinite amount of time they could be waiting for a visa stamping appointment to become available while overseas. An even greater fear is the risk that the applicant may lose his or her job while waiting for an appointment that may not come for a very long time.

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick shares the most up to date information about the current status of U.S. visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide. In this post we cover U.S. Embassies and Consular posts that we have not yet touched on and provide an analysis of their operating capacity during the worldwide COVID-19 health crisis. Want to know which Embassies and Consulates are scheduling visa interviews?

Keep on watching to find out more.


Overview


As a preliminary matter, it is important to consider that the majority of U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas continue to have very limited operational capacity due to constraints relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some posts have temporarily suspended all routine visa services and have not provided an estimated time frame as to when they will resume at least partial visa services and appointments. The bulk of Consular posts have entered a phased resumption of visa services and are providing visa services as their resources and local country conditions will allow. The health and safety of employees and the public remains a top concern. Emergency and mission critical visa services continue to be prioritized for those facing life and death emergencies, age-out cases where the applicant will no longer qualify due to their age, immediate relative intercountry adoption, and other special cases. Furthermore, expedite requests and National Interest exceptions continue to be considered by Consular posts and Embassies including for health care professionals working to alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.


How are Consular posts and Embassies prioritizing appointments?


The Department of State announced that Consular missions and Embassies are following a four-tier system of prioritization to triage documentarily qualified immigrant visa applications based on the category of immigrant visa as they resume and expand processing. Consular sections are scheduling some appointments within all four priority tiers every month where possible, however the following are the main categories of immigrant visas in priority order:

  • Tier One: Immediate relative intercountry adoption visas, age-out cases (cases where the applicant will soon no longer qualify due to their age), certain Special Immigrant Visas (SQ and SI for Afghan and Iraqi nationals working with the U.S. government), and emergency cases as determined on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tier Two:  Immediate relative visas; fiancé(e) visas; and returning resident visas
  • Tier Three: Family preference immigrant visas and SE Special Immigrant Visas for certain employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Tier Four: All other immigrant visas, including employment preference and diversity visas*

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Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: how can I apply for an E-2 investor visa despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and suspension of routine visa services at Consulates and Embassies worldwide.

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


Overview

More and more our office is receiving inquiries from prospective E-2 visa applicants who are stuck in the application process due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.


First, what are the requirements for an E-2 visa?

The E-2 visa is a treaty trader investor visa that allows foreign investors from select countries to invest in an existing or new business enterprise in the United States.

Requirements:

  • The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must be a citizen of a treaty trade/investment country
  • You must have invested or be in the process of investing in the business and show the path of funds for the investment from your home country to the US account
  • The investment must come from the investor and the money must be “at risk,” meaning that the investor must take action to invest the money into equipment, renting the business premises, and other such investment activities
  • You must actually start the business and hire workers before applying for the E-2 visa
  • You must be in a position to direct the business with your experience and/or skills and be involved in the management or operation of the business. You cannot be a passive investor
  • There is no set investment amount required however the investment must be sufficient to start the particular business (this amount will vary depending on the type of business enterprise)
  • The business cannot be marginal –the business should not be established solely for the purpose of earning a living for the applicant and his or her family.

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Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we talk about the different investment visa options available under current law.

E-2 Non-immigrant Visa: Visa through Investment

The first option is the E-2 visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals from eligible treaty nations to invest in a new business in the United States. The required investment amount will vary depending on the type of business.

Not every country participates in the E-2 visa program. You must be a national of a treaty nation in order to qualify. For a complete list of qualifying countries please click here.

The amount of time a foreign national may remain in the United States with an E-2 visa depends on the applicant’s country of nationality. The average processing time to receive an E-2 visa is approximately 3 to 5 months. In order successfully obtain an E-2 visa, the applicant must be able to demonstrate the source of funds of the investment, hire employees to work for the business, and the business must be real and operating.

It is important to note that the E-2 visa does not lead to a green card but can be extended.

EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program: Green Card through Investment

The EB-5 Immigrant Visa Program allows you to invest half a million dollars into a regional center government approved project, or a million dollars direct investment in your own project. To qualify, your investment must create at least 10 jobs and the business must be succeeding and growing.

After November 21, 2019, the minimum investment will increase from half a million to $900,000 for investment in a regional center, and from one million to 1.8 million for direct investments.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an important E-2 visa subject: how do you prove source of funds for your E-2 investment?

Loans

If your source of investment is a loan: you must prove that your loan is secured by some personal property.

Gifts

If your source of funds is a gift: you must prove that you have control of that gift and show the source of funds of the person that gave you the gift, for example if the funds came from the sale of the house, the documents of the sale of that house must be provided. If the funds came from savings, then the person would need to provide their savings account statements. If the funds came from someone’s salary, then pay stubs must be provided.

In general, if a person has given you a gift of money, and that is the source of your E-2 investment, that person must prove how they got the money.

Proceeds from Real Estate

If the funds are coming from the proceeds of a real estate sale then you must provide the deed, proof of the bill of sale and the transaction, etc.

Investments

If the source of funds is coming from investments such as stock, life insurance, then at least three years of tax returns must be provided, and three years of statements from those institutions.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how entrepreneurs come to America.

What are the available visa options for an entrepreneur to launch a startup company?

The O-1A:

One of the most common ways to launch a company in the United States is through the O-1A visa. This is a great option for entrepreneurs who have already established their reputation in their home country, have run a successful business abroad, and who wish to bring their unique talents and skills to the United States.

To qualify for an O-1A visa, the entrepreneur must demonstrate that they are exceptionally distinguished in their field or industry. This can be demonstrated by way of sustained recognition in the industry on a national or international level, or awards, titles, honorary distinctions, etc. The entrepreneur must also demonstrate that they have achieved a high level of expertise in their industry

The O-1A visa enables the entrepreneur to come to the United States to work for their own company, or for another company.

The L-1A:

Another great option is the L-1A visa. If you are a startup founder and you already have a company in your home country, and you want to launch in the United States, you can set up a subsidiary or an affiliate of your startup in your home country and come to the United States as an executive such as a CEO.

The E-2:

Alternatively, you may wish to apply for the E-2 visa as an investor of the startup company that you wish to launch in the United States. To qualify for this visa type, you must be a national of a foreign country that has a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or similar agreement with the United States.

In addition, the investment must be made in a real, operating commercial enterprise or active entrepreneurial undertaking productive of some service or commodity. Paper organizations, speculative, or idle investments do not qualify as real operating enterprises or active entrepreneurial undertakings.

The TN: 

If you are a citizen of Mexico or Canada, you can apply for a TN visa and be part of the company that you launch in the United States as an advisor or a higher-level position. The position that the entrepreneur will engage in must be a profession that is approved by NAFTA, and the entrepreneur must meet the qualifications for that position.

The E-1:

The E-1 Treaty Trader visa is a good option for entrepreneurs who wish to work in the technology sector. If you have a patent in your home country or have an idea to invest in the technology sector, and you are starting a company in your home county, you can set up a company in the United States as a founder without investing anything, because of the exchange of trade and technology.

National Interest Waiver

Company founders can apply for a green card by applying for a national interest waiver if you are a highly successful entrepreneur, and you can show the government that your level of innovation is at a high level.

Please visit our website for more information about these different options.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a frequently asked question regarding the E-2 Investor Visa: Are loans or gifts a legitimate source of funds for the E-2 visa?

In order to get an E-2 visa as an investor in the United States, you must demonstrate that you will make a substantial investment in a new business enterprise or an existing business. As part of the application process, you must show the origin of the source of funds for that investment, and the source of those funds must be legitimate. Not all sources of funds will qualify for the E-2 visa. Many of our clients ask whether a gift of funds or a foreign bank loan will qualify as a legitimate source of funding for the E-2 visa.

Overview: 

Are gifts a legitimate source of funds for the E-2 visa?

Yes, provided the investor has possession of the funds, and the funds are irrevocably committed to the investor by the giver of the gift. The person that has given the gift to the investor must provide documentation showing the source of those funds to prove that the funds came from a legitimate source.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick talks visa options for entrepreneurs.

Overview:

In this video we cover four visa options that allow foreign entrepreneurs to live and work in the United States. These visa options also allow the foreign entrepreneur to bring his or her dependents to live with them in the United States.

Option #1 L-1 Visa for Executives, Managers, and Essential Employees:

There are two types of visas available under the L-1 category: 1) L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and 2) L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge.

The L-1A category is a non-immigrant visa classification for aliens seeking to work in the United States in an executive or managerial capacity on an assignment of a temporary nature for a U.S. subsidiary or parent company of their foreign employer.
The L-1A visa classification allows a foreign company to transfer an executive or manager to the U.S. subsidiary or parent company. If an affiliated U.S. subsidiary or parent company does not yet exist, the L-1A classification allows the foreign company to send the executive or manager to the United States for the purpose of establishing the affiliated subsidiary or parent company.
L-1B: If the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity, the L-1B visa classification comes into play. To be eligible for the L-1B visa, the petitioner must demonstrate that although the alien is not employed in an executive or managerial capacity with the company, the alien possesses specialized knowledge and can represent the organization’s interests in the United States.

Both the L-1A and L-1B require the beneficiary to have worked abroad for the foreign employer for at least one year within the proceeding three years.

Pro: the L-1 visa leads to a green card

Option #2 E-2 Investor Visa:

The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business in the United States or investment in an existing enterprise. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.

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In this video, we touch on a very common question: what are the possibilities of changing your status after a visa overstay?

If a person comes to the United States on a visa, whether it is a tourist visa or a student visa, there is a duration of stay that is attached to the visa. To determine the amount of time you are allowed to remain in the United States you must obtain your I-94 arrival/departure record from the CBP website.

If you entered the United States on a tourist visa you can typically stay for up to six months, and you can extend your stay for another six months. During your initial authorized stay, you may change your status to another category such as a student or investor visa. Once you have overstayed and essentially lost your legal status, it is very difficult to change to another legal status.

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Overview: 

What is an E-2 visa?

The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities, for a specified period of two years subject to renewal. Investment activities include the creation of a new business. Foreign nationals must invest a substantial amount of capital in a new or existing business. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.

Who can get it?

Only foreign nationals from treaty nations may apply for the E-2 visa. To find out if your country qualifies, click here.

Level of Investment

Therefore, the level of investment must be such that it is sufficient to justify presence of the treaty national in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business e.g. a speculative investment in undeveloped land would not qualify, whereas an investment in a real estate development project probably would. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made prior to applying for E-2 status.

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