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E-2 visa investors program allows investors to live and work in U.S

This blog has carried a number of stories regarding the EB-5 visa program and the proposed EB-6 Startup Visa Act. However, Florida employment immigration lawyers recognize that immigration law allows other types of business and employment based visas. Immigrants can apply for a visa to live and work in the United States for an investment as low as $50,000.

The E-2 treaty-investor visa allows a business owner and the business owner's family to remain in the country as long as the business venture remains a going concern. The caveat in the E-2 visa program lies in the stability of the business. If the business falters, the owner and the owner's family can lose the right to stay in the country under the visa.

E-2 visa applicants are required to make a substantial investment in the business, "sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise," according to the State Department. Meeting and maintaining the requirements of the program can be daunting. A couple from Denmark has gone through the process. The woman, Mia Pedersen, a native of Denmark says "You have to have your business almost 80% ready to go before you can apply."

The couple opened a small ice cream shop out West. Under the E-2 visa program small companies like the ice cream shop have to prove the business will provide an economic benefit to the local community. Businesses must be able to provide a meaningful contribution to the economy, through creating jobs or providing other economic benefits.

E-2 visas can be renewed periodically, but the business owner must be able to prove at visa renewal time that the business is continuing to be a viable force and provides economic benefits to the local economy.

The government says roughly 25,500 E-2 visas were issued in fiscal 2010. The E-2 visa is primarily intended for "temporary visitors," according to the State Department. E-2 visas renewable every two-to-five years and children of the visa holder can remain in the United States until the age of 21, unless the children qualify for a different type of visa.

Recent efforts have been made to try to modify the E-2 visa program to become more of a pathway to permanent residency. The efforts to modify the program so far have not had much success in Congress.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "E-2 visa helps many non-U.S. citizens start small firms," Cyndia Zwahlen 16 may 2011

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