Common US Visa and Immigration Myths

Many individuals suffered United States immigration consequences due to their reliance on erroneous information found on the internet. Whilst much information found on the internet may be accurate, we have become aware of an abundance of visa myths arising out of incorrect information that is perpetuated across the internet on sites ranging from chat boards to government information pages.

Unfortunately, these visa myths often lead to consequences of varying degrees, including the following: a.) An individual may forego applying for a specific visa category that would otherwise allow him to establish a profitable business in the United States, due to a mistaken believe that he is ineligible for the category; or b.) An individual might consider that she is authorized to carry on business activities in the United States that are, in fact, prohibited by law, leading to refusals of entry, visa denials, or worse.

The fact of the matter is that United States immigration law is rarely, if ever, straightforward — and it is important to distinguish between the reality and the myths. In this article, therefore, we address the ten (10) visa myths most commonly brought to our attention by our clients, in the hopes of helping the public to avoid costly missteps.

Myths Associated with the E2 Treaty Investor Category

Myth 1: “I need to invest $250,000 USD in the United States to be eligible for an E2 Treaty Investor Visa.”

The Reality: Not necessarily. The US Department of State (“DOS”), the United States government agency that handles E-2 visa applications does not set a minimum investment figure. Instead, the DOS simply states that the investment must be substantial. The dollar figure required for a substantial investment depends on the nature of the business to be started or to be purchased. Your investment must represent a substantial proportion of the total value of the business to be purchased or it must be sufficient to start up a profitable new business.

Our firm has handled successful applications for applicants investing as little as $50,000 USD, when this was the full amount that was required to start up the business to the point of operation.

Myth 2: “I can apply for an E2 visa to allow me to travel to the United States to make my investment.”

The Reality: This is not correct. Before you legally can apply for an E2 visa, the investment of your money must be completed, and commercially at risk. Certain regulations do allow travellers to visit the USA on the Visa Waiver Program or a Visitor Visa for the purpose of making an investment, if otherwise eligible. However, this must be handled carefully to ensure that the activities you will do are all authorized under the regulations. For example, you will not be eligible to actively manage your investment, or otherwise work in your business, until you have received the E-2 visa. The officer at the port of entry must be satisfied that you will only be engaged in authorized activities or you may be refused entry or administratively deported.

Our firm often works with investors at this initial stage of the investment. We offer our services to qualifying investors to review the proposed investment activities in the United States and to provide documents for presentation at the port of entry in support of the investor’s proposed activities in the United States.

Myth 3: “I can retire on the E-2 visa.”

The Reality: This is not correct. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is not a retirement visa. It is intended for active investments and is only issued to investors entering the USA to actively develop and direct the investment.

The United States does not currently offer a retirement visa. You will need to secure Legal Permanent Residency in the USA before being able to retire there on a permanent basis. Given that the E-2 visa is strictly a non-immigrant visa, any Legal Permanent Residency petition or application must be handled carefully to avoid jeopardizing your E-2 visa status.

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