As previously reported on workpermit.com, a bill filed by Florida Congressman David Jolly on 9 April 2015 could in future allow E-2 Treaty visa holding business owners the opportunity to apply for US permanent residence after ten years in the US.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is a non-immigrant visa category for those who have made a significant investment in an US business in which the investor has at least a 50% ownership. A related visa is the E-1 Treaty Trader visa, for businesses engaged in substantial international trade between the US and the treaty investor country. These visas also allow for employees of the business to obtain E-2 visas to work in the US, as long as they are the same nationality as the business owner.
3 Republican co-sponsors lend support to the E-2 Treaty Investor bill
The E-2 Visa Improvement Act of 2015 was introduced to Congress on April 16th, and is currently under consideration by the house. On April 28th the full text of the bill was published; it has since gained 3 co-sponsors: Representatives from the Republican Party Dennis Ross, Paul Cook, and Robert J. Dold. With Jolly, who is also a Republican, as the bill's original sponsor this marks a possible change in the party's attitude towards visa reform.
The E-1 Treaty Trader visa and E-2 Treaty Investor Visa may only be issued to nationals from countries with which the US maintains a trade treaty. A full list of qualifying treaty countries can be found here.
Bill designed to allow E-2 Treaty Visa business owners to remain in US
In a press release on April 17th Jolly said: "Those who enter our country legally on a non-immigrant E-2 visa come from all over the world to start a business in our country, bringing with them the entrepreneurial spirit to start businesses and fully integrate into our communities. Without an opportunity for permanent residency these visa holders cannot take the next step in carrying out the American dream that initially brought them to the United States."
Under current rules all E-2 visa holders must either depart the US or apply for an extension before their visa expires, despite the impact this can have on their businesses and employees. Additionally, their children are required to either leave the US or apply for their own visa on turning 21.
The new rules would allow E-2 Visa business owners to gain lawful permanent residence in the US after a period of 10 years, as well as allowing their children to remain until the age of 26. To qualify the applicant's business must have a minimum of 2 full time employees.
The bill is needed to fill a gap in the current legislation which means that many E-2 visa holders are unable to gain lawful permanent residence. The EB-5 immigrant investor visa requires that the applicant have at least 10 employees, and makes a minimum investment of $500,000 into the business; something most small business owners cannot afford.
Uncertainty over future of bill
It's important to note, however, that the bill is currently being debated by the US House of Representatives and is not guaranteed to become law. The US Congress has a history of resistance to immigration reform. The bill's sponsor and co-sponsors may all be members of the Republican party, but this does not mean that it will receive much support from Republicans. Republican Senators and Representatives in particular have opposed several reform efforts in recent years, most notably the DREAM Act in 2010; making the future of this bill uncertain.
Workpermit.com can help with E-1, E-2, L-1 Visas and other types of US Visas
For more information, or to find out if you are eligible for an US work visa contact WorkPermit.com on 0344 991 9222.