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What are my options if my country does not qualify for an E2 business visa for the United States?
This is a pressing question about legal entrance to the U.S. for investors and entrepreneurs who are not citizens of an E2 Visa country and do not qualify for an E2 visa, especially among investors from China and India as well as other countries.
For them, the E2 visa is not available as an option to live and work in the United States simply because their respective countries do not have an E2 visa treaty with the United States, although otherwise they meet all the requirements for an E2 visa.
Our E2 visa lawyers in Miami, Florida USA explore below various options for those of you who are not eligible for an E2 visa because you are not citizens of one of the E2 visa countries.
The E2 visa program is particularly useful for foreign investors or entrepreneurs wishing to set up new businesses, expand existing businesses or make investments in the United States, as well as for foreign-owned U.S. companies that want to hire and bring foreign employees to work in the U.S.
However, the E2 visa program is open only to citizens from 80 countries, leaving investors from the other countries unable to access the US through the E2 visa.
If you are a citizen of one of the countries listed below you do not qualify for an E2 visa:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Burkina Faso
- Burma (Myanmar)
- Cabo Verde
- Central African Republic
- Ivory Coast
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Eswatini (Swaziland)
- The Gambia
- Marshall Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Marino
- São Tomé e Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sudan, South
- Timor Leste
- United Arab Emirates
- Vatican City
The investors and entrepreneurs who do not qualify for an E2 visa based on their citizenship can consider the following alternative solutions in order to come and live and do business in the United States together with their families:
1. Obtaining a second citizenship from an E2 visa country: Turkish citizenship.
The topic of dual nationality or dual citizenship and E2 visa has long been explored by investors who are not nationals of any of the E2 visa countries.
Simply put, if an investor does not have a passport from an E2 treaty country, he or she may be able to become a citizen of another country (E2 country) and this second passport can qualify for an E2 visa.
Today, an investor who holds dual citizenship from an E2 treaty country and a non-E2 treaty country, can choose to use the nationality of the E2 treaty country to qualify for the E2 visa.
However, obtaining citizenship from a country that has a treaty with the US can be a complex matter, but the Turkish Citizenship by Investment Program can be a valuable option.
Turkey offers a program with a fast route to acquiring a second passport within 4 months.
The Turkish Citizenship by Investment (TCBI) program has been introduced by the Turkish Government in September 2018. Under this program, foreign investors who (a) invest at least $250,000 in real estate property in Turkey or (b) deposit $500,000 with a Turkish Bank for 3 years are able to obtain Turkish Citizenship for themselves and their families.
The program features a straightforward application process without any obligation to declare the investor’s assets or income generated in other countries, and without being required to be physically present in Turkey. Once obtaining Turkish passports, investors can qualify for an E2 visa.
For example, an investor who is a dual citizen of China and Turkey is eligible to apply for an E2 visa with his or her Turkish passport. In this case, under the reciprocity between Turkey and the United States, the E-2 visa can be issued for 5 years at a US Consulate.
Similarly, an investor who becomes a citizen of Grenada is eligible to apply for an E2 visa.
The Grenada Citizenship by Investment (TCBI) program has been introduced by the Government of Grenada in August 2013. Under this program, foreign investors who (a) donate approximately $200,000 to the National Transformation Fund of Grenada or (b) invest $350,000 in a government-approved real estate project in Grenada obtain Grenada citizenship for themselves and their families. To learn more, visit our page on obtaining Grenada citizenship.
Grenada passports offer investors visa-free travel to over 143 countries. Once investors have Grenada passports, they can qualify for an E2 visa.
For example, an investor who is a dual citizen of Venezuela or Brazil and Grenada is eligible to apply for an E2 visa with his or her Grenada passport. In the case of Brazil, many Brazilians have dual citizenship of European countries such as Germany, Italy, Spanish and Dutch and usually qualify for an E2 visa with those passports.
Under the reciprocity between Grenada and the United States, the E2 visa can be issued for 5 years, the maximum period allowed, at a US Consulate. We recommend hiring an attorney to help with guidance and legal procedures.
If you are interested in exploring this option for the E2 visa please contact our business immigration attorneys in Miami, Florida USA or book a consultation.
L-1 Visa is a temporary visa that allows a U.S. company to transfer an executive, a manager or an employee with specialized knowledge from one of its foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.
For the foreign companies that do not have an office in the United States, the L-1 Visa allows the foreign company to send an executive, manager or specialized knowledge employee to the United States for the purpose of setting up an office in the US.
The foreign company can invest in an affiliated office in the United States and send a foreign employee to work for the new U.S. office on an executive, managerial or specialized position, including the Investor or Entrepreneur.
There is no country-based restriction when applying for an L-1 visa; the L-1 visa is available to foreign investors irrespective of their country of citizenship.
For example, if you are an investor from China and you own company there, you may be able to transfer an executive, manager or an employee with specialized knowledge from your company in China to the United States to (a) open a new office in the US or (b) work for the US-based office.
4. EB-5 Visa (Green Card)
On the other hand, the EB-5 Investor Program is an immigrant visa that allows a foreign investor or entrepreneur together with their spouse and children, under 21, to become permanent residents of the United States.
The purpose of the EB-5 Investor Green Card is to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
Under this program, foreign investors who (a) invest $800,000 in a US business in a high-unemployment or rural area or (b) $1,050,000 in a US business in an urban area or (c) invest the amounts in a Regional Center Project approved by the US Government can obtain permanent residency (Green Card) for themselves and their families to permanently live in the United States.
5. EB-1 Visa (Green Card)
The EB1 immigrant visa is available to a foreign individual who 1) possesses extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, athletics, education or business, 2) is an outstanding professor or researcher or 3) is a multinational manager or executive.
The EB1 visa category for a multinational manager or executive can be an effective route for those foreign investors who have worked for the foreign business entity in a managerial or executive position for at least 1 year in the prior 3 years.
In addition, foreign investors must be seeking to enter the United States to work for the related United States company in an executive or managerial capacity.
6. Family-Based Green Card
In the case of investors who have close relatives in the U.S, non-U.S. citizens can also apply for a Family-Based Green Card.
A family-sponsored green card is an immigrant visa that allows the foreign individual to join their close relatives in the U.S.
Close relatives refers to spouse, children, parents, or siblings of U.S. citizens but more distant relatives such as grandparents and cousins do not qualify.
The green card allows a foreign national to permanently move to the United States to live and work. In addition, if the green card holder does not violate the rules of their visa, after a period they can apply for U.S. citizenship.
In conclusion, even if your country of citizenship does not have an E2 visa treaty with the United States, there are other options available to those who wish to invest and live in the U.S. There are also other options that may qualify you based on your particular circumstances including EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver)
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