A bill introduced in the House of Representatives would allow certain foreign nationals on E-2 visas to apply for permanent residence in the United States.
Under current U.S. immigration law, E-2 Treaty Investor visas are issued for two-year periods and may be extended for an additional two-year increment indefinitely. E-2 holders whose visa status expires or is terminated must depart the U.S. There is no option to bridge that E-2 Treaty Trader status into permanent residence based on the same business unless you spend $1,000,000 on that business. This is a harsh reality that results in many entrepreneurs creating wealth and employment in the US with much less capital investment and no real future to predict.
H.R. 1834, sponsored by Congressman David Jolly (R-FL), seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow foreign nationals who have been in the U.S. for 10 years and created employment for 2 workers to apply for permanent residence or “Green Card.” The bill would cap the number of green cards issued to principal E-2 aliens at 10,000 each year.
“Those who enter our country legally on a nonimmigrant E-2 visa come from all over the world to start a business in our country, bringing with them the entrepreneurial spirit to start businesses and fully integrate into our communities. Without an opportunity for permanent residence these visa holders cannot take the next step in carrying out the American dream that initially brought them to the United States,” said Jolly in a press release.
According to advocacy group E-2 Visa Reform, the issue is about more than immigration—it’s also about economics. The group estimates that E-2 Treaty Investor businesses employ 800,000 workers and are responsible for $98 billion in annual sales.
Echoing Jolly, E2 Visa Reform writes on its website, “Would anyone in their right mind borrow money to invest in a new business when they are not sure whether they are here for the long term? How many people from the E2 Treaty Trader countries are deciding not to emigrate and invest their money here, because of the impossibility to plan for the future?”
In addition to providing a path to permanent U.S. residency for E-2 Treaty Investors, H.R. 1834, if it becomes law, would allow the children of E-2 holders to remain as dependents on their parent’s visa until the age of 26 (up from the current age of 21) and to apply for employment authorization at age 18.
A similar House bill that would have made E-2 visa holders eligible for permanent residency after 5 years was introduced in 2009 but did not progress past committee.
The current bill, introduced on April 16, was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on May 15, according to Congress.gov.
You can read the text of the bill in its entirety here.
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