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Can Foreign Investors Qualify for Visas During the Pandemic?

The immigration process has always been rife with legal hurdles and extended delays. Due to COVID-19, these obstacles have significantly increased. Many are beginning to question whether it is possible to obtain either an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa during the pandemic.

While service suspensions and emergency policies have made it more difficult to obtain temporary or permanent legal status in the U.S., foreign investment is one type of employment-based immigration that is still fully possible. Trump’s recent executive order effectively bans family-based and employment-based immigration for 60 days, but foreign investors are among those who are exempt from the ban.

The following is an overview of the visas you may be able to acquire if you are investing in a U.S. enterprise.

The E-2 Nonimmigrant Visa

Are you hoping to invest in a U.S. commercial entity without becoming a lawful permanent resident? You may qualify for the E-2 nonimmigrant visa.

To qualify for the E-2 visa, you must be:

  • From a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S.
  • Investing a certain amount of capital in a bona fide U.S. enterprise
  • Seeking entry into the U.S. solely to direct and develop this investment process

To show your direct involvement in the enterprise, you must own 50% of the entity or possess operational control.

The E-2 visa grants a maximum stay of 2 years, but you can extend this as many times as you would like, each for a period of 2 years. To successfully extend your stay, you will need to continuously demonstrate the above qualifications.

To apply, you will use Form I-129. Note, however, that the premium processing program that expedites I-129 and I-140 applications is temporarily suspended because of the pandemic.

The EB-5 Immigrant Visa

If your goal is to live permanently in the U.S. and potentially become a citizen, you could benefit from the EB-5 immigrant visa. Your spouse and children can use this visa to become permanent residents as well.

As with the E-2 visa, you must invest a certain amount of cash, inventory, equipment, or another cash equivalent in a U.S. enterprise. As a result, the investment must create a minimum of 10 full-time positions for employees who are authorized to work in the U.S.

If you are in a rural or high-unemployment area (i.e. targeted employment area), you must invest at least $900,000. If you are in an area with a high employment rate, you must invest at least $1,800,000. These requirements increased in 2019.

To apply for an EB-5 visa, you will use Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor. You can then adjust your status to permanent resident.

Bring Your Questions & Concerns to Our Team

Are you unsure whether you will qualify for either an immigrant or nonimmigrant investor visa? Nathan Christensen P.C. can answer all your questions and help you determine which road is best for your goals. We have over a decade of experience helping people from all around the world obtain the visas they need. If you need help navigating the ever-changing immigration system, we are more than happy to put our years of experience to work for you.

Give our office a call at (972) 497-1017 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to helping you take full advantage of the opportunities in the United States.

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