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Saturday, February 11, 2006
THE HOUSE HAS PASSED A TOUGH ANTI-IMMIGRATION BILL, and the Senate has yet to begin deabte on its counterpart package. The immigration system is more stressed and backlogged with the unavailability of H-1B visas and backlogs for green card numbers. Productive immigrants are finding that avenues for working in the U.S. and contributing to the country are becoming more limited. Until meaningul immigration reform is passed, foregin workers must explore other options that tney would not normally consider.

One option is the E-2 visa category, also known as the nonimmigrant investor visa. It is a temporary category that is granted in two-year increments with no limits on the number of extensions. In comparison, the H-1B is limited to six years. The E-2 category is available to citizen of countries such as the Philippines that have a treaty of trade or commerce with the U.S.

An E-2 allows Philippine nationals to manage investments that are at least 50 percent Filipino-owned. The visa requires that the U.S. investment be substantial and generates a substantial income. While there are no hard and fast figures on what the minimum investment amount is, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services generally require a business investment of US$100,000 or more, but the investment amount depends on the nature of the business. For example, opening up an automobile manufacturing plant would require several million dollars while opening up a CPA firm may only require a start-up costs of US$75,000. This is why there is no fixed figures on a minimum investment amount.

The E-2 investor must show that its return on investment is more than what is necessary to merely support the investor in the U.S. For example, an E-2 investor wishes to establish a hotdog stand and will invest US$25,000 to buy the equipment. He expects the hotdog stand to generate US$90,000 in gross sales. This business would probably not qualify becase the gross income generated would not be substantial. The hotdog stand would only generate enough money to support the investor.

Compare this to a business where the investors buys and runds a fleet of hotdog stands. He invests US$95,000 setting up and equipping ten hotdog stands, and expects each stand to generate US$90,000 in gross annual sales. This E-2 investment will generate US$900,000 a year and will be seen as a substantial investment.

The E-2 investments may be in any lawful endeavor that till generate a substantial income. Some successful E-2s include professional services such as accounting or CPA firms, import-export companies, real estate managements companies, retail stores, beauty salons, restaurants and construction companies. The E-2 is not limited to these type of businesses, but rather by the amount of income it generates.

E-2s may include intercompany transferees in manamgement or specialized knowledge positions. For example, a Filipino marketing manager may be transferred on an E2 visa to the U.S. to fill a management position. The company must be majority owned and controlled by citizens of the Philipines. The manager does not have to be an owner of the company. Another example of a specialized knowledge professional is a programmer for a filipino software consulting company. If the programmer knows special, proprietary knwoledge of the Philippine company's product, he cana be transferred to the U.S. on E-2. Unlike the H-1B, the E-2 visa holder's spouse can also obtain workd authorization for the duration of their E-2 status. He or she may then work anywhere.

Because the E-2 is a temporary visa as opposed to a green card, E-2 managers can justify to the U.S. embassy's satisfaction the bringing of their household workers temporarily to the U.S. For many enterpreneurs, setting up and establishing a new company in the U.S. is very time consuming. Knowing that trusted household workers can also travel to the U.S. and help care for the enterprenuer's children will provide added peace of mind.

The E-2 visa is beneficial to many who wish to work and conduct business in the U.S. It is not limited to just the owners of companies, but may be used by their managers and specialized knowledge workers. The process for obtaining an E-2 is complex and should not be attempted without a qualified immigration lawyer.

(Source: Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Joseph I. Elias/FILIPINASMAG)

Nota Bene: The analyzis and suggestions offered inthis column do not create a lawyer-client relationship and are not a substitute for the personalized representation that is essential to every case. Att. Reeves has represented clients in numerous landmark immigration cases that have set new policies regarding INS action and immigrants rights. His many successes have been published in Interpreter Releases Immigration Briefing and AILA Menthly which are nationally recognized immigration periodicals widely read by Immigration lawyers, State Department and Immigration officials. His cases are also cited in text books as a guide to other immigration practitioners. His offices are located in Pasadena, San Francisco, Beijing and Makati City. Telephone (800) 795-8009. E-mail: immigration@rreeves.com. Website www.rreeves.com
posted by infraternam meam @ 9:43 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
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About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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