The E-1 Visa is a visa based on trade between the United States and a Treaty country. The trade must be significant and must have existed for a period. You can find out more about the E-1 visa by clicking here.
The E-2 Visa is a visa that is available for an entrepreneur that wants to buy or start a business in the U.S. The investment must be substantial, and the business must be able to hire U.S. workers. You can find out more about an E-2 visa by clicking here.
You can join our E-1 & E-2 Facebook group by clicking here.
It is now clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and Vice President of the United States. A key question is how the change in Administration will impact E-1 and E-2 visas. Here are some questions and answer:
Will the change in Government impact E visa approvals? Will E-1 visas be easier to get? Will E-2 visas be easier to get?
Unlike many other types of visa categories, E-1 and E-2 visa adjudications were not impacted much by the Trump administration. This is likely because E visas normally create U.S. jobs. According to Government statistics, last year approximately 89% of E-2 visas are approved. You can see specific E-1 and E-2 approval rates here. Given things did not change significantly for E visas during the last 4 years, it is unlikely that a change to the Biden administration will change the E-1 and E-2 visa approval rates much.
Will new countries be eligible to get E visas?
During the Trump Administration, Treaty countries were both added and removed from the list. Notably, Israel and New Zealand were added to the list, and Iran was removed. The two additions had been in the works for some time while the removal of Iran was based on current relations with the country. We are not aware of countries that are currently in the pipeline to become Treaty Countries. A change in Treaty countries could occur during a Biden administration, but the E-1 and E-2 Treaty country list normally does not fluctuate much.
What will happen to Buy American, Hire American?
Buy American, Hire American (BAHA) was a Government policy that was stressed during the Trump Administration. The Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) that governs how E-1 and E-2 visas are adjudicated was modified 3 years ago to include a preamble that the provisions should be read in the spirit of BAHA. As such, BAHA made it somewhat more difficult to hire E employees, and at times for E-2 visas, Consular officers would ask whether the investment was made in the U.S. (even though the FAM explicitly does not require this) What will change now that Joe Biden has been elected President? It is unclear that much will change here. While not a hallmark of the Biden campaign, he stressed a version of BAHA during his campaign. Our thought is that this philosophy will continue as new E-1 and E-2 visas are adjudicated under this administration.
Will E-1 & E-2 visas be adjudicated faster?
Unfortunately, not. Unlike other visa categories, E-1 and E-2 visa processing did not slow down until Covid started. Given all Consulates had been closed for several months, Consulates are still taking time to catch up and get through interviews.
Will EAD Adjudications speed up?
The spouse of the E visa primary holder can apply for employment authorization in the U.S. (EAD Card). These cards are taking up to 7 months to process given the Trump Administration eliminated a 3 month statutory requirement related to adjudication. Given the long wait times, we hope that the Biden administration will re-introduce the 3 month adjudication time for EAD cards.
Will the Biden Administration impact E-1 and E-2 visa renewals?
Likely not. E-1 and E-2 visa renewals have always been quite objective and will likely remain this way. You can find our more about E-2 renewals by clicking here. You can find out more about E-1 renewals by clicking here.
Will Immigration Reform Impact E-1 or E-2 Visas?
Immigration reform means that the laws on the books change, and in order to do this, both the Senate and Congress must agree. There are many good proposals that may impact E visa reform and we hope to see some of these implemented. For example, provisions where and E-1 or E-2 visa may lead to a green card, and provisions that would protect the age out of children that reach 21. Our thought is that the Biden Administration would be open to making some of these changes and most changes would likely receive bipartisan support.
Will the Biden Administration eliminate the travel bans? How will the travel bans impact E-1 and E-2 visas?
It is very likely that the Biden Administration will immediately implement a number of Executive Orders to eliminate a number of Travel banks. In some cases, these will benefit individuals that were born in certain countries. It is unclear that the travel bans related to Covid will be lifted any time soon but the process to obtain permission to enter the U.S. may change or be relaxed.
In short, our assessment is that not much will change in the world of E visas in a Biden/Harris Administration. The 2 visa categories were always objective, and we expect that they will remain this way during a Biden/Harris Administration.
You can join our E-1 & E-2 Facebook group by clicking here.
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