E2 visas are non-immigrant visas that allow foreign investors to live and work in the U.S. To qualify for an E2 visa, a foreign national must make a significant investment in an eligible domestic enterprise. Additionally, the investor must be seeking to enter the U.S. for the purpose of developing and directing that investment enterprise. Foreign nationals who are relatively wealthy and interested in investing in the American economy may meet these relatively straightforward qualifications with ease. However, there is a third foundational prerequisite for E2 visa status that bars many eligible foreign investors from applying for this particular visa type. To be eligible for E2 visa status, an investor must be a national of a nation with which the U.S. government maintains a specific kind of commerce treaty. The United States and India do not maintain the kind of treaty of trade and commerce required for non-immigrants seeking E1 visa status and E2 visa status. It is for this reason that citizens of India may not apply for E2 visa status.
Thankfully, securing an E2 visa is not the only way that foreign nationals interested in developing a business in the U.S. may obtain legal authorization to enter, live, and work in America. Investors from India can apply for alternative visas that will allow them to pursue these goals.
EB5 Visa Alternative
EB5 visas are perhaps the most natural alternative to E2 visas because they are only available to foreign investors interested in making a significant investment in the U.S. economy. Specifically, foreign nationals must invest a minimum of $1 million in an eligible enterprise or $500,000 in an eligible enterprise in a targeted employment area. Targeted employment areas are generally rural or suffering from high rates of unemployment. Investments in an eligible enterprise may be made on an individual basis or by working with other investors on a project approved by a regional center. A certain number of jobs must be created and sustained through the investment enterprise. An EB5 visa serves as a conditional green card for two years until it is renewed.
L1 Visa Alternative
Applying for an L1 visa is a good E2 visa alternative for those who want to apply for a green card within a short period of time but who may not have access to $500,000 in investment funds. Green cards allow foreign nationals to become lawful permanent residents of the United States. An L1 visa holder can apply for a green card after meeting the terms of L1 visa status for one year. Employees of overseas companies who serve in executive or management positions or who have qualifying specialized knowledge can be issued L1 visas. A sponsoring business must apply for a the L1 “transfer visa” on behalf of the aspiring visa holder. Upon approval of this visa, the employee must transfer to a branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company office of the overseas employer that is located in the U.S. To be eligible for this visa, the business owner or employee must have worked for the foreign employer for at least one year within the three years before the transfer is requested.
H1B Visa Alternative
H1B visas don’t require applicants to make a significant investment in the U.S. economy. To be eligible for an H1B visa, you must simply have knowledge so specialized that another American worker can’t be found who is both available and capable of filling the position you’re being hired for at an American company. You must be sponsored by the U.S. company seeking to hire you. The major potential drawbacks of this visa alternative include the fact that it can’t be renewed indefinitely. It doesn’t provide a clear path to a green card, and spouses of H1B visa holders can’t work while residing in the U.S. However, if you aren’t planning on remaining in the U.S. past the expiration date of your H1B visa, this may be an excellent E2 alternative for you.
Immigration Assistance Is Available
If you’re interested in securing a visa so that you can live and work in the U.S. while investing in the American economy, consider scheduling a consultation with an immigration attorney at LawTrades today. Our immigration team has extensive experience assisting individual visa applicants and sponsoring businesses with their immigration needs. Our approach is efficient, effective, personalized, and cost-conscious. We look forward to speaking with you about your immigration needs and providing you with support right for your situation.