Amendments to “E” Immigration Visa Categories
A new bill that was signed into law by the Biden Administration, effective December 27, 2022, has implemented significant changes to the “E” immigration visa categories. The bill has (1) added Portugal as a new E-treaty country and (2) amended eligibility for the visa, now requiring that people who have been granted their E visa qualifying citizenship through a “financial investment” to actually be continuously domiciled in the country for three (3) years prior to applying for an E-2 visa. It is worth noting that while the meaning of “domicile” potentially varies by country of nationality, it could mean physical residency.
By way of background, the E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa for investors and entrepreneurs who make a substantial investment in a new or existing bona fide U.S. business. This visa is only available for investors who are citizens of countries – such as Australia, Turkey, Grenada, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Canada, among many others – that have a treaty with the United States.
After immediately obtaining citizenship in an E-2 treaty country with short processing times like Grenada, Turkey, and Montenegro, some investors from non-treaty countries like China or India have utilized their secondary citizenship with a treaty nation to then qualify for E-2 visas in the United States. In many cases, these investors then apply for an E-2 visa while the processing of their EB-5 visa – a U.S. immigrant visa for investors – is pending. The amendment appears to be targeting investors who are obtaining citizenship from such E-2 treaty countries through secondary citizenship for the sole purpose of qualifying for an E-2 visa.
Overall, this bill may result in the curtailment of the demand for citizenship-by-investment in certain E-2 treaty nations. If you have any questions about your immigration applications, please feel free to click here and reach out to us.