When E-2 visa holders desire permanent residency

One type of visa that has become increasingly common here in the U.S. in recent years is the E-2 visa. This is the “treaty investor” visa. It is available to individuals from countries that are treaty partners to the U.S. who invest in a U.S. business (with that investment having to meet certain requirements).

Over 41,000 such visas were issued last year. This is 112 percent higher than the total from 1996. Since 2009, the annual total of E-2 visas issued has gone up every year.

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa. This means it is a visa for a temporary stay in the U.S. rather than permanent residency. The initial max stay length for an E-2 visa is two years. However, extensions of up to two years can be requested, and getting multiple extensions is possible.

Now, an E-2 visa holder’s overall goals and desires could change over time. Their desire to have a temporary stay in the U.S. may eventually evolve into a desire to be a permanent resident. So, one thing one might wonder is: Are there mechanisms within the E-2 visa program to seek a green card?

There currently is no built-in route to permanent residency in the E-2 program. There was a legislative effort this year to change this, but it was unsuccessful. Do you think such a built-in route should be added to the program?

Now, just because there are no mechanisms for permanent residency within the E-2 program does not mean that getting a green card is an impossibility for an E-2 visa holder. Depending on their circumstances, they might qualify for one of the visa programs that is connected to green cards. For one, depending on their family situation, the might have eligibility to pursue a family-based immigrant visa. Also, if they have the resources to make an even bigger investment into the U.S. economy, they could qualify for EB-5 permanent resident status.

As this illustrates, an E-2 visa holder’s particular circumstances can great impact how achievable the immigration goals they have are. Immigration lawyers can advise such individuals on whether there are options available for pursuing their unique goals.

Sources: USA Today, “Visa lets migrants start U.S. firms but not be citizens,” Gustavo Solis, Sept. 27, 2016

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “E-2 Treaty Investors,” Accessed Oct. 18. 2016