By: Joseph Barnett and Avi Friedman
The ability to indefinitely live and earn money in the United States while managing one’s own business will always be coveted, and the E Visa is a popular option for entrepreneurs wishing to start a new business in the United States as well as for foreign corporations wishing to expand into the United States market. As other U.S. immigration options become more restrictive (such as H-1Bs and L-1s), demand for the E Visa remains steady, with the U.S. Department of State issuing around 50,000 E visas annually since 2015. Further, as U.S. immigration policy continues to support job creation for U.S. workers, the E Visa is particularly welcomed since its purpose is to enhance or facilitate economic and commercial interaction between the United States and the foreign treaty country.
There are two different E visas available for corporations and investors – the E-1 Treaty Trader and the E-2 Treaty Investor visas. Both are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. An applicant must be coming to the United States solely to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country (E-1), or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the applicant has invested a substantial amount of capital (E-2), or to work in the enterprise as an executive, supervisor, or essentially skilled employee. Both of these visas require the U.S. company to have a positive economic impact and expand job opportunities in the United States.
E visas are preferred for the following reasons:
- Shorter Processing Times and Less Fees. Compared with other employment nonimmigrant visa categories, the processing of an E visa is much shorter because the application can be submitted directly at a U.S. consular post abroad without the need to file a petition with (and pay additional fees to) U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
- Possibility for Indefinite Stay. Once in the United States in E visa status, it can be extended indefinitely in two-year increments without leaving the country, as long the business remains operational and eligibility requirements are met.
- Tax Benefits. With proper planning, it is possible to remain a “nonresident alien” for U.S. tax purposes. This allows E visa holders to only pay tax to the federal government on their U.S.-based income, as opposed to their worldwide income.
- Spouses Can Work, Children Can Go to School. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of E visa holders are also eligible to obtain E visa dependent classification. Spouses may apply for work authorization in the United States for maximum employment flexibility.
- Limitless Commercial Opportunities. There is no limitation on the type of international trade or business which can qualify a foreign national for E visa status. Whether expanding a foreign business concept to the United States, purchasing an existing U.S. business, creating a new franchise, or otherwise, the E visa category adapts to numerous commercial opportunities.
Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is a full-service immigration law firm whose attorneys have helped thousands of clients lawfully enter and remain in the United States. Contact a Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP attorney to discuss how the E Visa may be an option for you.