Why the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is the Next Best Thing to a Green Card
August 17th 2020
Green Cards are in high demand in Vietnam. Last year Vietnam was the third largest recipient of Green Cards in the world, with over 32,000 Green Cards issued, more than to any other country in Asia.
Such demand has caused oversubscription, and Vietnamese citizens currently face waiting lists for key Green Card visa categories, including the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and the EB-3 visa for highly skilled professionals.
As a result, Vietnamese citizens are starting to examine an alternative solution: The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. What they are discovering is a versatile visa that might be as good as, and in some cases better than, a Green Card.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification permits a citizen of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. It is one of very few visa categories not affected by the President Trump’s recent so-called “immigration ban”.
Vietnam does not hold a relevant treaty with the United States, so it is necessary to first become a citizen of a country that does. There are a number of E-2 countries that offer citizenship through investment, but the most cost-effective program with the fastest processing times is Grenada in the Caribbean.
We have helped clients become citizens of Grenada and then move to the United States on an E-2 visa in less than six months. Just recently, processing times in Grenada have become even faster, making it possible to obtain citizenship of Grenada within two months without ever needing to have visited.
To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
Below are the specific reasons why the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa may be the next best thing to a green card:
- Quick Processing Times
If one already in the U.S. on another lawful non-immigrant status, there is an option to apply to change status to E-2. The Treaty Investor applicant may choose premium processing by paying an additional fee of $1,410. With premium processing, USCIS will adjudicate the application within 15 days.
On the other hand, if one is outside the U.S., consular processing is the way to go. Processing time varies with every Embassy or Consulate. It usually takes the E-2 Consular Section around two weeks to a little over a month to review the E-2 visa application before they schedule the appointment for interview.
- Relatively Less Capital Investment Needed
There is no minimum capital investment required but the investment amount must be logical and reasonable in relation to the nature of the business. In general, we recommend an investment of at least $100,000. The investment amount varies depending on the nature of the business. A service-oriented business like a consulting company will require less capitalization as compared to a full-service real estate company which will require more than $100,000.
- Funds to be Invested may come from various sources
The funds to be invested should be the personal funds of the applicant. The funds may come from employment or business income or from the sale of property. The funds may also be from a loan provided it is not secured by the E-2 enterprise or its assets.
Interestingly, the funds may also be gifted to the applicant. If the applicant, does not have enough personal funds, relatives and even friends may gift additional funds to the applicant.
- Control of Investment Funds and the Treaty Enterprise
The treaty investor applicant will come to the US to develop and direct the enterprise. Essentially, the applicant has discretion as to how he wants to spend start-up funds or working capital for the success of the enterprise. The applicant is responsible for making all business decisions to ensure that the enterprise will be a success.
- You may opt for a franchise
It can be challenging to make start-up company a success. With the franchise option, the applicant has all kinds of support from the franchisor to make sure that the E-2 enterprise will meet its targets and generate revenues and employment. There are numerous franchise opportunities in the US that are suitable for the E-2 visa that do not cost a fortune.
- Dependents are entitled to E-2 derivative visas
The spouse and dependent children of the treaty investor applicant qualify for E-2 derivative visas should the application be approved. With the derivative visa, the spouse may apply for Employment Authorization Document and work for any employer in the US while the children are permitted to study in American public schools.
- Flexibility with Travel
Since the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, there is no requirement to establish residence or domicile in the US. The applicant is free to travel for as long as the E-2 visa is valid. This is an important advantage especially for individuals who have businesses in various parts of the world.
- Potential Tax Advantages
Depending on the duration of stay in the US, the treaty investor applicant may potentially be classified as a non-resident and therefore not be liable for tax on worldwide income. Consultation and tax planning is highly recommended especially for high net worth individuals who choose to apply for the E-2 visa.
- Relatively Low Legal Cost
The legal and filing fees to obtain an E-2 visa are significantly less than legal and filing fees for other visa categories like the EB-5 or the Immigrant Investor Program. Our firm offers a fixed fee so the applicant has the assurance that he or she will not pay exorbitant legal fees.
Dual qualified in the United States and the United Kingdom, the author of this article, Mark I. Davies is the Global Managing Partner and founder of Davies & Associates and Chairs the firm’s Investor Visa team which focuses on EB5, L1, E2, EB1-C, citizenship by investment, and other business and investor visa solutions. A former General Counsel, Mark is relied on as primary counsel to corporations, investors, non-profits and businesses of all sizes.
Categories: E2 Visas