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Investor Visa

What is an E-2 visa ?

The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work in the United States based on an investment in a U.S. business. The majority (+50%) of the shares of the U.S. company must be held by nationals of the treaty country.

Who can apply for an E-2 visa ?

If the visa applicant is the investor, he/she must have relevant experience to qualify him/her to develop and direct the business. An employee can qualify for E-2 status if they have the requisite experience which qualifies him/her to assume an executive or supervisory position or perform services which are “essential to the efficient operation of the business”.

What is the basic requirement to obtain the E-2 visa ?

In order to qualify for the E-2 visa, a company, individual and/or the visa applicant must make a substantial investment into a new or existing U.S. company. 

What is the required investment for obtaining the E-2 visa ?

There is no minimum or pre-determined amount that meets the requirement of a "substantial" investment. The amount invested should be sufficient for the company to begin to do business, or continue its operations. An E-2 investment can be made with cash, equipment, intellectual property and other assets.

When can I apply for the E-2 visa ?

When your business is operational - The business must be operational or on the verge of being ready to do business in order to apply for the visa. The E-2 visa is for a company which is able to show it has completed preparations for operation such as leasing office space, hiring employees, holding an active U.S. bank account, and making purchases on behalf of the U.S. entity.

Where do you apply for an E-2 visa ?

This is one of the advantages of this visa. The application for the E-2 is sent to the relevant consular post, which in Israel is the Tel-Aviv Embassy Branch Office. It is also possible to file with USCIS if you are legally present in the U.S. at the time of filing. This is a strategic decision, because ultimately an application must be submitted to the relevant post in order to obtain the visa. The USCIS approval isn't valid once you leave the U.S. and has no effect on the separate application filed at post. 

What is the authorized period of stay on an E-2 visa?

For Israelis the visa is issued for 2 years however, each time that you enter the U.S. you get an automatic extension of status for 2 years up until the date the visa expires.

Can my family apply for an E-2 visa ?

Your spouse and children under the age of 21 can also apply for the E-2 visa and may attend school on either a part-time or full-time basis. Recent guidance provides that the E-2 spouse may seek employment as being incident to status, and no longer needs to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

What are the benefits of the E-2 Visa Category ?

There is no requirement of prior employment with the company or for an academic degree. There is also no annual quota for the visa (limited number of visas). The E-2 visas are issued by the U.S. Embassy – Tel Aviv Branch Office in Israel. E-2 visa-processing time for employees of approved companies is significantly shorter.

International Entrepreneur Parole Rule

What is unique about the International Entrepreneur Parole Rule?

In general, the rule provides that the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) may exercise its discretion to adjudicate requests for parole on a case-by-case basis. Applicants are entrepreneurs of start-up entities whose entry into the United States would provide “a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation”. “Parole” provides a temporary initial period of authorized stay of up to 30 months (which may be extended up to an additional 30 months) to facilitate the entrepreneur’s ability to oversee and grow their start-up.

What is required of the entrepreneur?

For an entrepreneur to qualify under this rule it must be shown that he/she will play a central and active role in the start-up entity. The entrepreneur must provide evidence of holding the knowledge, skills, or experience to substantially assist the start-up entity with its growth and success. A minimum 10% ownership interest in the start-up at time of the initial parole application is required.

Does the start-up itself also have minimum requirements?

It must be shown that the petitioning start-up organization was formed within 5 years of the application. Proof must be provided that the company had been lawfully conducting business since inception and that it has substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

What is the investment amount required? 

The investment must be made within 18 months of filing and should consist of a minimum of $250,000 in qualified investments; or a minimum of $100,000 in qualified government awards or grants.

What is required of the investor?

An investor must regularly make substantial investments in start-up companies (no less than $600,000 in total in a 5 year period). An individual investor should be a U.S. citizen and a majority of the shares held by the corporate investor should be held by U.S. citizens.

Intracompany Transfers for New Companies

Can a “new office” employ a foreign national in L-1 status?

A “new office” is defined as a company which has been doing business for less than one year. Foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the U.S. as an executive or manager to establish a new office must show: they have a physical location for the new office; the employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years before filing the petition; and the new office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.

How does a “New Office” L visa application differ from the standard L visa?

All L petitions require a qualifying business relationship between the petitioning company and the foreign employer, and the employee must meet the requirements of the qualifying period of employment. What differs in the new office application is that USCIS does not require proof of extensive business activity during the first year of operations. Where in a standard L visa application a company would need to provide evidence that it is operational by the submission of financial statements, tax returns and proof of business activity, the “new office” application does not need to include these documents until the extension request.

What is the duration of the new company L1 visa ?

The L1 visa for a new company is issued for 1 year and may be extended upon presentation of evidence that the business is active and operating. The visa can be renewed in two-year increments up to seven years for a manager or executive.

EB-2 National Interest Waivers for Entrepreneurs

In order to encourage entrepreneurs to work in the U.S. the U.S. government has created certain exceptions to the employment-based second preference (EB-2) immigrant visa category, known as the national interest waiver. If the EB-2 foreign worker's presence can be shown to hold benefits for the U.S. in the future, it may be possible to submit an application in this category without first receiving a job offer or competing the labor certification (Perm) process. 

What is the advantage of qualifying for a national interest waiver ?

The EB-2 visa classification includes foreign workers with advanced degrees and individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. Generally, an EB-2 visa petition requires a job offer and a Department of Labor certification. These requirements can be waived under existing law if the petitioner demonstrates that approval of the EB-2 visa petition would be in the national interest of the U.S.

What does an entrepreneur need to prove in order to qualify for a national interest waiver?

The entrepreneur has to demonstrate that his/her business activity will be in the interest of the U.S. There are three main requirements:(1) The foreign national’s proposed employment has both substantial merit and national importance; (2) He/she is well positioned to undertake the proposed employment; and (3) it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the job offer and labor certification requirements. Due to the vague and ambiguous language used in the regulations in defining the requirements of the NIW it is advised you engage a professional immigration attorney to guide you through this process.



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