When foreign nationals are interested in investing in living in the U.S. while investing in the American economy, they have a few immigration options available to them. One of the most flexible options available involves securing an E2 visa. One of the benefits of obtaining E2 visa status is that a foreign investor may, when living in the U.S., be accompanied by their spouse and dependent, unmarried children who have not yet turned 21.
E2 visa status is relatively flexible because E2 visa applicants aren’t required to meet as many strict criteria as applicants for certain alternative visas are. However, there are eligibility criteria that both E2 applicants (and their spouse and qualifying children) must meet before their visa petitions will be approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
What Is an E2 Treaty Country and Why Does This Classification Matter?
Only foreign investors who are nationals of an “E2” country are eligible to obtain E2 visas. It is important to note that this requirement does not apply to the spouse and qualifying children of an aspiring E2 visa holder. This means that while the E2 investor must meet specific nationality requirements, an eligible E2 visa holder may be accompanied by their spouse and qualifying children, even if these family members are nationals of countries not classified as E2. E2 classification is obtained by nations that maintain a specific treaty status of navigation and commerce with the U.S.
This nationality requirement for the investor seeking E2 visa status must be met or the foreign investor and their family will need to seek alternative visa options. As of January 1, 2020, the nations that are classified as E2 by the U.S. Department of State are as follows:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- China (Taiwan)
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Denmark (excluding Greenland)
- Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Kingdom
Family of E2 Visa Holders – Immigration Requirements
If a foreign investor meets the basic criteria for E2 visa status, their spouse and qualifying children can also seek E2 visa status as dependents. Most of the time, if this dependent E2 status is granted, the spouse and qualifying children will be able to take advantage of the same period of stay as the E2 investor. Note that the maximum initial period of stay associated with E2 visa status is two years. The treaty investor can request extensions of that stay in two-year increments with no maximum on the number of times an extension can be requested, provided that the terms of visa eligibility continue to be met.
The same holds true for the investor’s spouse and their children, as long as the children don’t age out of their eligibility and (like the investor and investor’s spouse) continue to “intend to depart” the U.S. when their visas expire. Note that if the investor leaves the U.S., they may automatically reenter the country during the following two years. The investor’s spouse and qualifying children don’t enjoy this automatic reentry benefit. Therefore, if they wish to leave the U.S. and reenter, they should speak with an immigration attorney about their options so that they don’t unintentionally compromise their visa status.
Finally, a major advantage of immigrating to the U.S. via E2 visa status is that the investor’s spouse can apply to work in the U.S. during their stay. This request is made by formally submitting Form I-765 to the government along with a required fee.
Visa Assistance Is Available
If you’re interested in securing an E2 visa or you’re the spouse of an aspiring E2 visa holder and you want to learn more about your options, please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney at LawTrades today. Our team has extensive experience assisting visa holders, their employers, their spouses, and their dependent children with all aspects of the immigration process. Once our attorneys learn more about your unique needs, they will be able to advise you of your options and offer necessary guidance and support throughout the visa application process. We look forward to speaking with you.