Recent Changes and Trends for the E-2 Visa Program

While changes to the EB-5 program and H-1B program have caught the attention of the media during the past few months, the E-2 visa has quietly undergone changes in the last few weeks. Furthermore, changes to the immigration landscape have led to new trends in the E-2 arena.

Changes Affecting Middle Eastern Investors: As a result of the October 3, 2018 termination of the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights with Iran, Iranian nationals are no longer eligible for the E-1 and E-2 visa; the announcement was made by USCIS last month after tensions escalated between the United States and Iran over the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. This also means that Iranian nationals in the United States on an E-2 visa cannot extend that visa. The EB-5 investment visa remains the fastest way for Iranian nationals to obtain a green card in the United States; this is especially true given that Iranian citizens face no retrogression in the EB-5 visa category. With a skilled immigration lawyer, Iranian nationals can navigate OFAC restrictions and ensure they plan ahead to minimize risks in their EB-5 investment.   

Israeli nationals were given access to E-1 and E-2 visas on May 1, 2019. This is good news for both countries, as Israel boasts and flourishing and dynamic startup scene; as such, Israeli investors and startup founders now have easier access to markets in the United States. Last month, the validity period for Israeli E-2 applicants was shortened from five years to two years. However, Israeli applicants should take note that the E-2 visa can be extended indefinitely for two-year periods.

Citizenship by Investment to obtain E-2: As we mentioned in a previous blog post, we have seen an uptick in interest in the E-2 visas from Chinese applicants[1]. The good news is that we are starting to see approvals for E-2 applicants who obtained their citizenship through Turkey and Granada; this pathway allows nationals from on E-2 eligible countries to gain access to the E-2 visa. Our firm maintains a network of professionals in the United States, Grenada, and Turkey to ensure we can serve the needs of those seeking the E-2 visa through Grenada’s or Turley’s citizenship by investment program.

The Rise of the Franchise:  Franchises are becoming increasingly popular vehicles for investment for E-2 investors who do not want to perform the extra steps necessary to start their own business. The industry has adapted to the demands of investors, and we are now seeing an increase in companies that match investors with franchises that are rope for investment. These companies perform due diligence and match investors with business that fulfill their E-2 (and L-1A/EB-1C) needs. For more information on this route, please contact an experienced immigration attorney.