E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Applications and Renewals for Mexican Citizens
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa classification is an excellent option for companies and entrepreneurs seeking to start business operations in the United States. Mexican citizens may qualify for this visa pursuant to a treaty between the United States and Mexico. Below is a brief summary and helpful reminders regarding the E-2 visa classification for Mexicans.
What is an E-2 Treaty Investor visa?
The E-2 visa is available to individuals who have invested or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of money in a real and operating commercial enterprise in the United States. The company can be any type of legal, for-profit undertaking that provides some service or commodity. Franchises can be often be an effective investment option. One of the benefits of this visa is its versatility, regardless of the type of business or the investor’s qualifications.
The U.S. company can be directly owned by the investor, a group of investors, or another company. Either way, at least 50% of the ultimate owners must be citizens of Mexico. Mexican nationals who are dual U.S. citizens or who have lawful permanent resident (“green card”) status in the United States cannot be counted toward this requirement.
The general purpose of this visa classification is to stimulate economic growth and employment in the United States. For this reason, U.S. jobs must be created to demonstrate that the company will provide a living for other workers besides just the investor. There is no specific number of employees that must be hired, but it would be advisable to have at least 2 full-time employees, if not more.
How much is a substantial investment?
The investment must be “substantial,” although there is no specific minimum amount that can be considered. The goal is to ensure that the business will be able to successfully operate. A strong application would typically have an investment of at least $150,000 – $200,000. The more one is able to invest, the better.
Who qualifies for an E-2 visa?
The investor must be coming to the United States to direct and develop the enterprise. This means that, during the time the investor is present in the United States in E-2 status, he or she must spend a majority of the time actively working in the business. Passive investments are not permitted. In addition to the investor, other executive, managerial, and essentially skilled workers who are Mexican citizens may also qualify for E-2 visas.
What is the procedure for applying?
The U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez is the only consular post in Mexico that accepts and processes E-2 visa applications. All applicants, including dependent family members, are required to attend an in-person interview in Juarez for the initial application. The interview may be waived for visa renewals, although applicants must still attend an Application Support Center (ASC) appointment to capture their biometrics when renewing. The ASC appointment can be completed at any U.S. consular post in Mexico and does not have to be done in Juarez.
Once issued, the E-2 visa for citizens of Mexico will only be valid for one year, although individuals can be admitted to the United States for 2 years upon each entry. As long as there continues to be an investment and the applicant continues to qualify, the E-2 visa can be renewed indefinitely. Unfortunately, though, this type of visa does not automatically lead to U.S. permanent residency or citizenship.
What are the benefits for an E-2 worker’s family members?
Spouses and children under the age of 21 can accompany the principal E-2 worker to the United States. In addition, domestic workers can apply for B-1 visas to accompany the family.
Spouses are not automatically authorized to work as E-2 dependents, but they can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) once they arrive in the United States in E-2 status. They are only allowed to work upon receipt of the EAD.
The E-2 visa classification should be strongly considered by entrepreneurs and corporations from Mexico that wish to invest in the United States. The visa offers may benefits, including the ability to renew an unlimited number of times for those who qualify and apply for employment authorization for spouses. If you wish to seek an E-2 visa, be sure to seek the advice of a qualified immigration lawyer who can guide you through the legal requirements and application. This article is made available for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Guillermo “Gary” Wiener, Senior Attorney
John W. Meyer, Partner
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