US E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Criticized for Failing Migrants

According to a report published by USA Today, the E-2 visa system is ‘guilty’ of failing migrants. The E-2 treaty investor visa and E-1 Treaty Trader visa receives much less publicity than say the H-1B visa, and L-1A visa to transfer manager level staff to the US and L-1B visa to transfer specialized knowledge staff, but has grown increasingly popular for would be immigrants to the US. Has President Elect Donald Trump ever even mentioned the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa or E-1 Treaty Trader visa we wonder!

However, while the visa program enables foreign nationals to establish and invest in businesses, pay taxes, hire US workers and send their children to public schools, there is typically no easy route to US permanent residence and possible US citizenship. The E-2 Visa scheme has become very popular in a number of Countries including for example in the UK.

Throughout 2016, state and federal lawmakers have attempted to reform the E-2 treaty visa program, but with little success. Similar to the rest of the US immigration system, any proposed legislation has simply failed to gain any kind of traction.

One commentator said: “I’ve seen some E-2 business owners have families in the US and they have a US citizen child who turns 21. And the child can petition (to have their parents become residents), but that takes over 20 years.”

Sanwar Ali, Editor of workpermit.com News reviews the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, E-1 Treaty Trader Visa and the surprise Trump Presidential Election Victory:

It is to be hoped that the Trump Presidency will not affect the E-2 Visa and E-1 Visa schemes. These schemes are beneficial to the US economy and bring jobs and investment into the US. Donald Trump may have a hard time trying to restrict these visa programs which are based on individual international trade agreements with many Countries around the World. Lets not forget that Trump companies have employed thousands of immigrants and that the Melania Trump in 1996 worked illegally before gaining her H-1B visa.

But perhaps in the longer term President Trump may wish to change the way in which E-2 Treaty Investor and E-1 Treaty Visa Registration applications are handled. Perhaps he will try and restrict immigration under the visa scheme by for example trying to make it more difficult to register companies under the E-2 visa scheme with smaller investments.

In practice changes may take some time to implement. In the meantime if people are interested in this E-2 visa and E-1 scheme it may be an idea to apply in the next few months.

Number of E-2 visas issued is rising

The non-immigrant E-2 Treaty investor visa enables citizens of certain nations to invest in US businesses ranging from small companies to multi-national corporations and continue to extend their visas as long as the business continues in the US. Since 2011, federal government data indicates that the number of E-2 visas granted has increased by 46%, rising from 28,000 to 41,000.

Over the last 20 years, the number of E-2 visas issued has more than doubled, only experiencing a decline following the September 11 terrorist attacks and the global recession.

Failed US Immigration Reforms

Despite the sharp increase in the number of visas issued, attempts to reform the E-2 visa program have been fruitless. One of the most recent efforts to overhaul the program was proposed by David Jolly, a Republican US congress representative for Florida. His Bill sought to allow E-2 visa holders to become permanent US residents after 10 years in the country.

The Bill was put forward in April 2016 and referred to the subcommittee on immigration and Border Security the following month. However, the Bill has since stalled and can’t be reintroduced until the next congressional session.

Despite a number of benefits, critics argue that the E-2 visa program lacks a ‘pathway to permanent residency.’ Not only does this affect E-2 visa holders, it affects their dependants too, who also have no rights to residency.

However, the much maligned EB-5 investor visa does offer a route to permanent residency, provided the investment is $1 million – or $500,000 if they invest in a rural region or a location where there is a high unemployment rate. Critics of the EB-5 visa say it’s simply a way for the wealthy to buy US citizenship.

Some argue that E-2 visa holders are getting a raw deal when compared with EB-5 visa holders, especially considering that they too make a big contribution in terms of paying taxes and hiring US workers.

Another Bill that has since stalled was introduced by Republican, Chad Mayes, a California state Assemblyman who lives in Yucca Valley, California. His legislation attempts to ease the financial strain on E-2 visa holders by granting in-state tuition to community colleges and public universities for the children of E-2 visa holders who are 21 years or older.

Current E-2 visa rules mean that dependent status is lost and the in-state tuition benefits cease once the child of an E-2 visa holders turns 21. Mayes’ proposed Bill would allow students to keep in-state tuition, a benefit that is afforded to undocumented migrants.

In a written statement, Mayes said: “Students who entered California legally, many of whom know no other home, deserve an equal opportunity to obtain a college education to achieve their dreams. They should qualify for and be allowed to pay in-state tuition to give them that chance.”

Mayes’ Bill was introduced in February 2016, following concerns raised by a constituent concerning current policy. However, despite passing the Higher Education committee in April 2016, the Bill has since been held in the Appropriations committee since May 2016.

Consequently, the two-year legislative session ended in August 2016, meaning that Mayes or another legislator now have to introduce a new Bill during the next congressional session in order to continue any attempt to bring in new E-2 and E-1 visa legislation.

E-2 visa Issues

Like many other US visa routes, the E-2 program has been criticised by some. It does permit investors to recruit E-2 workers that are ‘essential’ to the operation of a business and employ managers. However, these workers like other non-immigrant workers in the US may find it difficult to gain permanent residence and work for another employer.

While the vast majority of E-2 visa holders provide benefits to the economy and treat their employers well there are occasionally scandals involving the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa scheme. President Elect Donald Trump and other politician frequently exaggerate problems with immigrants and employers just to get votes. It appears very successfully in Donald Trump’s case!

One of the most high profile cases of such abuse involved 11 E-2 workers in Los Angeles. They sued their employer after claiming they were paid just $3 per hour and forced into gardening and DIY jobs for their employer’s personal projects. Following the lawsuit, the employer in question closed several bakery facilities in Beverly Hills and Torrance, California.

An excerpt from the lawsuit stated: “The workers were told they would work as skilled bakery chefs and managers, but when they arrived what they faced was starkly different. They were forced to work for the defendants in illegal, oppressive, and discriminatory conditions as domestic servants, physical laborers engaged in landscaping and building maintenance and retail bakery workers doing a substantial amount of menial work.”

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.