The beginning of a new year often motivates budding entrepreneurs to pursue dreams of launching a startup company. To accomplish their entrepreneurial goals, thousands of startups around the world use E2 investor visas to launch (or expand) their company in the US. The following potential changes in the E2 visa program will be on our radar in 2020.
- E2 visas for French nationals: French entrepreneurs were shocked in August 2019 when the validity period of E2 visas was reduced to 15 months for French nationals. This was recently increased; the current validity period for French nationals is 25 months. (This change only pertains to the validity of the visa stamp, which previously was valid for 5 years. The two-year authorization to remain in the US remains unchanged for French nationals who receive an E2 visa.) French citizens who receive the E2 visa in 2020 should therefore plan on arriving in the US and executing their business plan from the first day of validity of their new visa. We nevertheless hope this will be a short-lived change (remember “Freedom Fries”?) and the longer validity period will be reinstated in 2020.
- Re-vetting of E2 company registration: Many (but not all) US consulates that routinely issue E2 visas have active E-2 company registration programs. A recent government audit revealed an inconsistency among US consulates regarding the frequency with which they vet registered E2 companies. In July 2019 the US Department of State stated that it plans on instituting a policy that would require companies registered at any US consulate using an E2 registration program to be re-vetted every five years. We’ll keep an eye out to see which US consulates adopt this policy in 2020.
3 & 4: E2 Visa Improvement Act: This bipartisan bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives in April 2019 and then referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship the following month. If enacted into law, the bill would make two significant changes to the current E2 visa program:
- E2 visa holders would be able to apply for a green card if they have:
- Been in the US with E2 status for at least 10 years, and
- Created full-time employment for at least two persons
- Children of primary E2 visa holders would be able to do the following:
- Receive work authorization upon turning 18 (Currently they cannot receive work authorization.)
- Continue to derivatively benefit from their parent’s primary E2 visa until age 26 (Currently the cutoff is age 21.)
We’ll continue to monitor the progress of this bill to see whether it passes the House and goes to the Senate in 2020.
- Demand for E2 visas due to EB5 changes: As of November 2019, the minimum investment required for EB-5 visas was raised to almost $1 million, thereby making those visas unattainable for many potential applicants. Entrepreneurs who don’t have $1 million to invest may instead choose to apply for E2 visas. If that happens and the increased demand in E2 visas is significant, the time to process E2 visas in 2020 may also increase.
Despite the above-mentioned potential changes to the E2 visa program in 2020, the E2 visa continues to be a highly attractive way for foreign entrepreneurs to move to the US to develop and direct their company after expanding into the US market.