Making a substantial investment in a U.S. business may provide the opportunity to pursue a nonimmigrant work visa through the E-2 treaty trader visa classification. The business must be more than marginal enterprise purchased solely for the purpose of supporting the investor and the investor’s immediate family. Further, the amount of the qualifying investment must be considered in proportion to the overall cost of business.


At this time, the E-2 visa is available to nationals of countries including: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville and Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras,  Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia & Montenegro, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.


Another nonimmigrant alternative can be found in the E-1 treaty investor visa. This visa is based on substantial trade in an amount of more than 50% of the trade between the U.S. and the treaty country as measure by trade volume. The trade should be of a continuous flow and involve numerous transactions over time. A business requiring a small start-up investment may not qualify for the E-2 visa. Nonetheless, a useful alternative may be found in the E-1 category provided that the business will carry out numerous trade transactions between the U.S. and the treaty country, even if many of those transactions are of a relatively small monetary value.


At this time, the E-1 visa is available to nationals of countries including: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia & Montenegro, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.


It is also possible to pursue lawful permanent residence (informally referred to as green card status) based on a $1.8 million dollar investment in a new enterprise that employs at least 10 U.S. workers. For certain targeted employment areas, the required investment amount may be reduced to $900,000.


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