In my last blog post, I discussed the EB-5 program – invest $1M (or $500K) and you get a Green Card. At least that’s the short of it. The E and L visa classifications, on the other hand, are much more affordable options.
The E visa is for treaty traders and investors, and it is used by many foreign nationals with an entrepreneurial spirit. The E visa allows a foreign national to go to the United States to work and live so long as they are a citizen of a country that has a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation (“TCN”) with the United States. They must be going to America to carry on substantial trade or to develop and direct the operations of a U.S. enterprise in which they have invested. The spouse of the principal beneficiary of the E visa is permitted to obtain employment authorization to work for any company in the U.S., and unmarried children under 21 have the opportunity to attend any U.S. school. If properly planned, E visa holders could potentially obtain a Green Card.
Alternatively, foreign nationals can go to America to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise through the use of the L visa. The L visa is a non-immigrant classification whereby companies may transfer employees working abroad to function in the same or similar capacity for the parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate company in the United States. This visa also allows foreign nationals to establish new offices in America. As long as there is a business currently operating abroad, it can be expanded into the U.S. by establishing and carrying on its operations under a U.S. company that is associated with the foreign enterprise. Like E visa holders, those in L status can work and live in America. Further, the spouse of the principal beneficiary in L status can also obtain unrestricted work authorization in the U.S. and unmarried children under 21 can attend any school, much like E visa holders. Finally, certain persons holding L status are on a direct route to obtaining a Green Card.
Both the E and L visa classifications can be nice alternatives to the EB-5 if one doesn’t have $500K or $1M to invest.