E-1 / E-2 Visa
The Treaty Trader Visa (E-1 Visa) or the Treaty Investor (E-2 Visa) are great for business owners looking to live and work in the United States temporarily. These visas are for nationals of a county with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce. Your home country will dictate whether you seek to apply under the E-1 Visa or E-2 Visa. The difference between the two visas are:
- The E-1 Visa – is where an individual is coming to the United States to carry on a substantial trade principally between the United States and the treaty country. There must be trade between the foreign nationals country and the United States; or
- The E-2 Visa – the individual may be coming in to the United States to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise wherein the individual has invested, or will be investing in.
The investment must be large enough to startup and operate the business, and the business must not simply provide a living for the investor and their family, but must generate jobs for United States citizens or lawful permanent residents. Both these types of visas require active investment, where you must be actively involved in the company. If you are seeking a passive investment where your simply investing will help you get a green card then you should explore the EB-5 program, where a passive investment of $500,000 to $1,000,000 can result in a permanent green card. Whereas, with the E-1 or E-2 visa, the investments typically do not exceed $150,000, but in some cases can be substantially smaller.
The E-1 or E-2 visa requires quite a lot of legal work including a comprehensive business plan. The business plan can be one of the most highly scrutinized factors in an application package. The business plan should be of a 5-year scope and provide for employees. The business plan must do more than simply provide a living for the investor and their family.
It is important to note, this is a temporary non-immigrant visa, and you must have the intention to return to your home country after expiration of this visa. The attorneys at Shupe Dhawan have strategies in place that can help you transition from this type of visa to a permanent green card.
Real Estate Purchase and/or Investment and the interplay with an E-1 or E-2 visa
Passive investment in real estate, stocks, bonds, or other investments, does not qualify for an E-1 or E-2 treaty trader visa. As stated above, the business must create a positive economic impact and create jobs for United States citizens. Unfortunately, purchasing a home for you or your family does not accomplish this. Similarly, purchasing commercial real estate would not meet the requirements of an E-1 or E-2 visa.
However, starting a company which buys, sells, or manages real estate would qualify, as it would be active investment and create jobs for United States citizens. A commercial real estate enterprise, which employed United States citizens and had a positive economic impact would qualify. An example would be an investor who purchases, renovates, and re-sells commercial properties would qualify.