US E2 visa eligibility for Ecuador affected by end of investment treaty

A notice issued by the US government on May 18, 2018, terminating Ecuador’s bilateral investment treaty with the United States, will affect E2 visa eligibility for Ecuadorean nationals. The Office of Trade Representative for the US Department of State officially announced the end of the treaty in the Federal Register.

Sanwar Ali workpermit.com comment:

It can be very difficult to obtain work visas for the US. Companies and businessmen from Ecuador will no longer be able to apply for E2 treaty investor registration. Since 18 May 2018 only those organisations that already E2 registered will be able to apply for E2 visas. The alternatives to the E2 visa are difficult to obtain. Employers in some limited circumstances can apply for the L1 visa and H1B visa. There is also the B1 in lieu of H1B visa.

Under the terms of the treaty, which has existed since 1997, Ecuadorean nationals and their dependents will continue to be eligible to apply for, or renew, an E2 Treaty Investor visa for an additional 10 years – until May 17, 2028 – provided that any investment made or acquired took place prior to the date of termination.

History of the US-Ecuador bilateral agreement relevant to E2 Visa

The bilateral investment treaty agreement between the US and Ecuador was signed in Washington on August 27, 1993 and came into effect on May 11, 1997. However, Ecuadorean officials issued a notice to the US government on May 18, 2017 expressing its intention to end the 20 year agreement.

Pursuant to the terms of the treaty, ending an agreement takes effect 12 months after the initial notice is issued. The Ecuadorean government has exercised its right to terminate the agreement following the initial 10-year period, giving 1-year’s notice to bring the deal to an end.

Existing US E2 visa holders

For existing US E2 visa holders, the provisions of the treaty will continue to apply for an additional 10 years to all investments made or acquired prior to the date of termination and to which the treaty otherwise applies.

The treaty provides protections to cross-border investment between the two countries and the option to resolve investment disputes through international arbitration.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the Department of State and the Office of the US Trade Representative, which both oversee the US bilateral investment treaty program, said: “This notice [in the Federal Register] is provided so that existing or potential US investors in Ecuador can factor the end of the treaty into their business planning, as appropriate.”

Ecuadorean nationals no longer eligible for an E2 visa, and seeking alternative routes to live and work in the US legally, are being urged to consult with a reputable immigration lawyer.

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