USA and the UK
E2 visa restrictions
The E2 visa is often referred to as the Treaty Investor Visa. It is a non-immigrant visa for investors and investment companies who are from a qualified treaty country.
Holders of the visa are able to reside and work in the US while they develop their business within the US. To prove eligibility for a E2 visa, applicants must be planning to make substantial investment in a legitimate US business, not a foreign company. There are also a number of other criteria that must be met – such as the business employing US workers and planning to make a profit within five years.
E2 time limits on permanent residency
Holders of the E2 visa are allowed to remain in the US for two years and they must apply for an extension before the visa expires. Under the E2 rules, those with a visa can stay in the country as long as they plan to return to their country when their status ends. The visa can be extended indefinitely as long as the business remains viable.
Being granted permanent residence
While the E2 visa does not allow a direct path to obtaining permanent residence or a green card, there are some options for those who want to become a US citizen.
Employer Sponsorship (EB2 visa)
An E2 visa holder may be offered a job from a US-based employer, and this would allow them to start the route towards being granted a green card and employment based immigration.
It is possible for an employer to sponsor a E2 visa holder under the second preference (EB2) category this means foreign workers with extraordinary ability or advanced degree professionals are eligible to come to the United States for work.
E2 holders may also be sponsored under the third preference category (EB3) – visa available for skilled workers; professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree and eventually other unskilled workers.
The next step is the PERM Labor Certification process. The aim of the PERM process is to prevent permanent residents from being excluded from a job offer because of the position being given to a foreign national candidate.
The PERM process also requires sponsoring businesses to submit a “prevailing wage determination” as well as advertise the role for at least 30 days so that lawful permanent residents in the US have the chance to apply for the position.
EB2 to green card timescale
Converting from a E2 visa to a green card via the EB2 route can be a very lengthy process. In terms of timescale, it can take around 8 to 11 months for the PERM process to be completed and the correct labor certification to be granted. Then the employer must submit the I-140 Immigrant Petition to the US immigration services.
Under the current visa rules, applicants can file a I-485 application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence alongside the I-140 Petition. The I-140 is a required step by the immigration service in the green card process for all foreign nationals making employment-based petitions. However, there is no way to shortcut this process and it may take years to be awarded permanent resident status via this route of converting a E2 visa to a green card.
Gaining a green card via the National Interest Waiver
For E2 vias holders who are hoping to be granted lawful permanent residency and have desirable skills or advanced degrees, then the EB-2 National Interest Wavier could be a suitable immigration process towards becoming a US citizen.
Changes by the immigration services means the threshold for eligibility for the E 2 visa has been lowered and it could be easier for certain foreign nationals to qualify. Instead of having to follow the lengthy PERM process, the application can ask for the employer sponsorship and labor certification criteria to be waived as their citizenship would be beneficial to the US.
In order to qualify for a green card the applicant must be able to fulfil the following criteria:
- Demonstrated their proposed employment/business has both substantial merit and national importance
- Have the correct skills and experience to ensure the success of their employment/business
- Show it would be advantageous to the US to waive the EB-2 visa category.
Applicants considering the National Interest Waiver options are encouraged to seek advice on how to put together a strong case and many successful green card holders via this route is due to E-2 Entrepreneurs being able to demonstrate existing successful business activities.
EB5 Visa to green card route
Often referred to as immigrant investor green card, the EB-5 is suitable for foreign nationals who are able to offer direct investment in the US.
To qualify for this fifth preference green card, foreign national applicants need to be able to make an initial investment in a new business to be granted legal permanent residency. The minimum investment was recently increased and new immigration laws require an investment of between $500,000 to $900,000 for targeted employment areas (TEAs) and up to $1.8 million for all other investments in United States business opportunities.
The EB5 visa is capped by the US immigration service to 10,000 per year and processing times can vary significantly with some proposed endeavours taking several years to be approved and for the applicant to be given permanent residence status.
Consider family based visa to green card route
One option for E 2 visa holders is to obtain a green card via sponsorship by a family member. A Family Based Green Card enables foreign family members of US citizens/permanent residents to become Green Card holders.
Spouses, parents, children and siblings of US citizens/Green Card holders could be eligible to receive a Family Based Green Card.
The two main routes towards obtaining a Family Based Green Card are via immediate relative and preference relatives. The Family Based Green Card does not take into account the academic or work history of applicants.
Immediate relatives are the most likely to be approved for a green card by the US immigration service and there are no annual caps enforced on these types of green card applications.
Qualifying relatives for green card applications
The following people will qualify as immediate relative family members:
- Spouses of US citizens
- Unmarried children of a US citizen who are under the age of 21
- An orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- An orphan to be adopted in the United States by a US citizen
- Parents of US citizens, if the US citizen child is at least 21 years-old
Preference relatives are likely to find it more challenging to be approved for a green card and be granted permanent resident status. Process times are lengthy and there is a cap on the number of applications that are approved.
Preference relative would apply in the following categories:
- Family first preference. Unmarried children of any age of the US citizen
- Family second preference. Subcategory 2A is for spouses and unmarried children (under 21) of Green Card holders. Subcategory 2B is for unmarried sons and daughters of Green Card holders who are at least 21-years-old
- Family third preference. Married children of a US citizen
- Family fourth preference. Sisters and brothers of US citizens where the US citizen is at least 21-years-old
How can we help you convert your E2 visa to a green card?
Although the E 2 visa does not give a direct route to a green card and permanent residence in the US, we can offer advice to a visa holder looking to become a US citizen and the best way to apply for a green card.
Last modified on May 25th, 2022 at 4:57 am
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