U.S. Congressmen David Jolly is working on legislation that could significantly change the lives of E-2 Treaty Investors. Currently, this category is available to citizens of treaty countries who make a substantial investment in a U.S. business. It is a non-immigrant visa category, meaning that E-2 visa holders cannot become permanent residents unless they are eligible under an immigrant visa category.
At this time, the employment based immigrant visa categories are not directly in line with the E-2 visa. There are many situations where an E-2 visa holder would not be eligible for an employment based green card. For example, an E-2 investor would not be eligible under the fifth preference Employment category (EB-5), unless they had invested at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area and created 10 full-time jobs. Further, an E-2 investor would not be eligible for the first preference Employment Category (EB-1C), unless they served as the Manager or Executive of an affiliated foreign business for at least one year.
The proposed legislation would rectify this problem by allowing E-2 visa holders to apply for permanent residence through a new category. The new category would require applicants to prove that they were physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years in E-2 status. Additionally, the applicant must demonstrate that their U.S. business created at least two full-time jobs. If these criteria were met, the individual would be eligible for permanent residence.
In addition, the proposed legislation could have significant impacts for dependent children of the primary investor. Currently, children may only possess E-2 dependent status until they are 21 years old, and they cannot apply for work authorization. The proposed legislation would allow children to remain as E-2 dependents up to the age of 26, and would allow them to apply for work authorization once they are 18 years old.
It is important to note that at this time, the changes discussed above are merely proposed changes. To officially become part of U.S. law, the legislation must be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and signed into law by the President. For further information about the E-2 visa category and the potential changes discussed above, please contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.