Non-Immigrant Visas – TN Visas (Canada and Mexico Only) and E-2 Investment
If you are investigating the possibility of coming to the United States temporarily, there are a variety of options for non-immigrant visas. These visas are available for people that come to this country for a specific purpose, such as study, tourism, or work. Most, however, deal with people who are bringing their talent to the U.S. that will benefit that nation and its people in some way.
A couple such non-immigrant visa programs are the TN visa and the E-2 investment visa. These are visas that are only available to certain people in specific situations.
At the Garmo Group, our firm has deep experience negotiating the complicated maze of ever-changing policies and often confusing regulations that govern the eligibility requirements for obtaining these visas. We specialize in helping visa applicants understand their rights and options and guiding clients through the application process.
TN Visa for Canada and Mexico Applicants
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special trade and economic relationships between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. One of the provisions created by NAFTA was the creation of a nonimmigrant visa category for people coming to the U.S. from these two countries, referred to the TN visa. This visa allows professionals from Canada and Mexico to temporarily engage in business activities in the U.S.
TN nonimmigrant professionals are permitted to remain in the U.S. for up to three years at a time. They can also receive extensions good for three years. There is no limit on the number of extensions available as long as the TN nonimmigrant status is considered temporary.
Eligibility for TN Nonimmigrant Status
If you are a professional from Canada or Mexico, you may qualify for TN status if you meet the following requirements established by the U.S. Department of State:
- You are a citizen of Canada or Mexico;
- Your profession is recognized under NAFTA (examples include engineers, accountants, scientists, attorneys, and teachers, among others);
- The position you are filling in the U.S. requires a NAFTA professional;
- You have a pre-arranged part-time or full-time position with a U.S. employer (self-employment is not permitted); and
- You have the qualifications required for the professional position in question.
The application procedures and requirements are slightly different for Canadian and Mexican applicants. Canadian citizens may submit their application materials for admission as a TN nonimmigrant at any U.S. port of entry, pre-clearance/pre-flight station, or airport handling international traffic location. Mexican citizens must submit a request for TN visa status before traveling to the U.S.
Bringing Family to the U.S. Under a TN Visa
As a Canadian or Mexican citizen with TN visa status in the U.S., you may be eligible to bring immediate family with you to live temporarily in this country. A TN visa holder’s spouse and children under the age of 21 can apply for nonimmigrant status if they can provide proof of their relationship to the TN visa-holder. Neither the spouse nor the children can work while in the U.S, but they are permitted to attend school while in the country.
E-2 Treaty Investment Visa
It’s not uncommon for foreign nationals to want to enter the United States for the purposes of making direct investments. Under these circumstances, a person can apply for an E-2 visa, which is a nonimmigrant visa that permits the citizens of foreign countries to temporarily reside in the U.S. in order to develop or direct a business or commercial enterprise for which they have invested a substantial amount of capital.
The advantages of obtaining an E2 visa include:
- Fairly low investment expectations
- Potential tax benefits
- Option to purchase an existing or franchise business
- Ability to travel freely to and from the United States
- Relatively quick processing time
These visas are typically valid for two to five years and can be extended indefinitely as long as the visa holder maintains the requirements necessary to qualify.
Eligibility for E2 Visa Status
The Treaty Investor Visa is intended for nationals of foreign countries that the United States has qualifying treaties of commerce, navigation, friendship, or similar agreements. The State Department maintains a list of treaty countries, which is subject to change. The following are the general requirements to obtain an E2 visa:
- The investor must be a national of a treaty country;
- The investment must be “substantial.” There is no specific dollar amount named, but the figure must be sufficient for the success of the endeavor;
- The investment must be in a real business. Idle or speculative investments don’t qualify nor do uncommitted funds in a financial account;
- The investment cannot be marginal. It must be profitable instead of just earning enough to sustain the living expenses of the investor and their family;
- The investor must control the funds, and the investment must be at risk commercially; A business operating on loaned funds that are secured by the business assets will not qualify; and
- The investor must be traveling to the United States to direct and develop the enterprise. If not the principal investor, they should be employed in an executive, highly skilled, or supervisory capacity. Unskilled or ordinary skilled workers will not qualify.
Bringing Family to the U.S. Under an E-2 Visa
If you obtain an E2 visa, you can apply to bring your immediate family to this country. Your spouse and minor children (under 21 years of age) are eligible for nonimmigrant visa status. Once the visa is approved, your spouse will also be eligible to work in the US. if they get approval for an employment authorization card. Children can also go to school in the US.
Speak with An Experienced Southern California Immigration Attorney
Applying for any non-immigrant visa can be a complex process, and the qualifications for TN and E-2 investment visas can be confusing. The experienced immigration lawyers at the Garmo Group have extensive knowledge and experience with both visa categories.
We can answer your questions about qualifications and guide you through the application process. Contact our La Mesa office today at (619) 441-2500 or reach out to us online to schedule an initial consultation.