Comments by Sanwar Ali:
In reality, despite a huge number of visa types, in practice the options for long term work visas for the US is somewhat limited. Much of the time the only options are the E2 visa or L1 visa. The E2 visa is restricted to nationals of only a limited number of countries including Jamaica. The L1 visa is for people who have worked for the business outside the US for at least one year in the last three years. One option that is in practice not available much of the time is the H1B visa limited to only 85,000 visas a year.
Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, has urged Jamaicans interested in investing in business ventures in the United States to apply for the E2 Treaty Investor Visa. The E2 visa is available to citizens of more than 30 countries who have trade treaties with the US.
Ms Marks urged investors to consider the E2 visa during a digital town hall meeting session called ‘Let’s Connect with Ambassador Marks’. The meeting provided diaspora members with updates on US visa and immigration requirements amid new US COVID travel regulations.
The Jamaican ambassador to the US encouraged Jamaicans to apply for the E2 visa in order to ‘take advantage of the benefits that come with the cooperation between Jamaica and the US’.
Purpose of the E2 visa
The E2 visa enables nationals from countries that have forged a treaty with the US relating to commerce, or other bilateral arrangements, to enter the US for the purpose of directing and developing the operations of a business they have invested in or are in the process of investing into with a significant capital injection.
To be eligible for an E2 visa, an applicant must be:
- A citizen of a country that has a treaty agreement in place with the US
- An immediate family member of an E2 visa holder
As part of the stipulations of an E2 visa, companies in treaty countries must send key personnel to manage the US affiliate or branch.
Applicants should be aware that unlike a US green card, the US E2 visa does not offer US permanent residency. However, there is no limit on the number of times that the visa can be renewed – provided that the E2 business continues to meet the requirements of the category.
Aware of the opportunity
During the digital town hall meeting, ambassador Marks pointed out that not many Jamaicans are taking the opportunity to apply for the E2 visa. She said: “Persons are not taking up the E2 visa that only citizens of a few countries have access to. So, I want Jamaicans to be aware of that opportunity.”
News that Jamaicans are being urged to apply for US E2 visas comes on the back of a report published by Business Insider, which claims that rich Russians are being offered a route to US E2 visas via Grenadian citizenship.
Grenadian citizenship has been described as an ‘affordable option’ for wealthy Russians and their families, providing a platform for them to apply for the coveted US E2 visa. Russians can become Grenadian citizens with an investment of $150,000.
Dubbed ‘little Switzerland’ Grenada has long offered a route to US E2 visas for the wealthiest people courtesy of its passport. Grenada is the only Caribbean country that has a bilateral agreement with the United States that gives its citizens access to the US E2 investor visa.
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