Navigating the world of visas in the United States can be a complex and daunting task. One of the visa types that has generated interest among foreign entrepreneurs and investors is the E-2 visa. As an E-2 treaty investor, you may have concerns about your dependent family members and their status in the United States. In this article, we aim to provide you with valuable information about E-2 visa dependents, their rights, and the potential challenges they may face.
The E-2 visa, classified by USCIS, is granted to citizens of countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States. These treaty investors are required to invest a substantial amount of money in a US business venture, demonstrating the potential for economic growth and job creation. While the primary E-2 visa holder is focused on managing and developing their business, it is crucial to understand how their dependent family members can also benefit from their E-2 status.
Dependent family members, such as spouses and children under the age of 21, are eligible for derivative E-2 visas. These dependents do not need to hold the same nationality as the principal E-2 visa holder, and they can live and study in the US, as well as work in some cases (for spouses). As we explore the nuances of E-2 visa dependents, we hope to empower you with the knowledge that will help you and your family make informed decisions regarding your stay in the United States.
E2 Visa Overview
The E2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor visa, allows nationals of treaty countries (countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. In this section, we will discuss the eligibility criteria, investment requirements, and the application process for the E2 visa.
To qualify for an E2 visa, applicants must be nationals of a treaty country and plan to invest a substantial amount in a U.S. business. This visa classification is designed for investors who wish to direct and develop their business operations in the United States. Key factors for an eligible national include:
- Must be a national of a treaty country
- Must have invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount in a U.S. business
- Must demonstrate intent to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise
To meet the E2 visa investment requirements, the investment must be:
- Substantial: This means the investment must be proportional to the total value of the business or be of a substantial monetary value.
- At risk: The funds invested must be subject to loss if the business fails.
- Irrevocably committed: The investor must show that they have legally committed their funds to the business.
- Invested in an active commercial enterprise: This means the business must create goods or services for profit and meet applicable legal requirements.
E2 Visa Dependents
E2 visa holders can bring their spouses with them to the United States as dependents. If you are entering the U.S. with an E-2 visa, your spouse can apply for a work permit after arrival. In fact, since 2022, it is automatically granted when they enter the US through the I94S
It is important to note that the marriage must be legally valid in your home country, and the United States recognizes same-sex marriages as long as they are legally recognized in the country where the marriage took place.
E2 visa holders can also bring their unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States as dependents. These children are eligible for an E-2 dependent visa, regardless of their nationality. However, they will not be allowed to work in the U.S. under the dependent visa status.
Once a child reaches the age of 21 or marries, they will lose their dependent status and must apply for a different nonimmigrant status to remain in the country legally.
To summarize, E2 visa dependents include spouses and unmarried children under 21, with spouses having the option to apply for a work permit once they are in the United States. It is important to maintain legal nonimmigrant status throughout your stay in the U.S. as an E2 visa holder or dependent.
Employment Authorization for E2 Dependent Spouses
Starting January 30, 2022, USCIS and CBP began issuing Forms I-94 with new COA codes for certain E and L spouses, including E-1S, E-2S, E-3S, and L-2S. An unexpired Form I-94 reflecting one of these new codes is acceptable as evidence of employment authorization for spouses under List C of Form I-9.
Education and Studying for Dependents
As E2 visa holders, it is essential for us to know the educational opportunities available for our dependents, especially our children. In this section, we will discuss the possibility of studying under the E2 dependent visa, the requirements, and the limitations that come with it.
Our children under the age of 21 and classified as unmarried can apply for the E2 dependent visa. The good news is that they can study in the US while holding this status. For K-12 education, dependent children can attend public or private institutions without needing to change their visa type.
As for post-secondary education, our dependent children may study full-time while keeping their E2 dependent status. However, it is crucial to understand the limitations that come with this visa. One major limitation is the age restriction – once a child turns 21, they will no longer qualify for the E2 dependent visa and may need to change to another visa type, like F-1, to continue their studies.
It is important to note that our E2 dependent children must comply with the rules governing their nonimmigrant status, as described by ImmigrationRoad. This involves abiding by the rules at their educational institutions and not working without authorization.
Let’s summarize the key points:
- Our dependent children are eligible to study in the US under the E2 dependent visa.
- They can attend K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions without needing to change their visa type.
- Children must abide by the rules of their nonimmigrant status and educational institutions.
- Once a child turns 21, they will no longer be eligible for the E2 dependent visa and may need to apply for a different visa type to continue their studies.
Change of Status for E2 Dependents
The process of changing status for E2 dependents involves submitting an application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). We recommend beginning this process by gathering the necessary documentation to prove the relationship between the principal E2 visa holder and the dependent. Some of the relevant forms include Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and Form I-539A for dependents.
In addition to the forms, it is crucial to provide evidence of financial support, as well as proof that the E2 dependent meets the eligibility criteria. Once all the required documents are prepared, they can be submitted to USCIS for review.
To be eligible for a change of status to an E2 dependent, the applicant must meet certain criteria. Some of these requirements include:
- Being related to the principal E2 treaty investor or employee holding a valid E2 nonimmigrant classification. The relationship can be a spouse or an unmarried child under 21 years old.
- Possessing a valid nonimmigrant status that allows for a change of status application, such as H-1B or L-2. Additionally, the applicant must not have violated the conditions of their current status.
- The principal E2 visa holder must have a valid E2 nonimmigrant classification and maintain that status throughout the duration of the dependent’s stay.
As of December 23, 2022, there have been amendments to the eligibility criteria for E visas, including the E2 dependent visa. It is important to stay informed about these changes and ensure that the applicant meets the updated criteria as per the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023.
Notably, in some cases, USCIS has granted E2 visa status with employment authorization incident to status for L-2 spouses, E-1 Treaty Trader dependent spouses, E-2 Treaty Investor dependent spouses, and other similar classifications, as explained in this National Law Review article.
Overall, it’s essential to carefully review the USCIS guidelines and requirements for a change of status to an E2 dependent. By ensuring that the applicant is eligible and submitting a thorough application, the chances of approval are significantly increased.
Travel and Reentry for E2 Dependents
As E2 dependents, it’s important for you to be aware of certain travel restrictions that may apply to you. Firstly, ensure that your passport is valid and up-to-date. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires a valid passport for entry into the United States.
Before planning any international travel, double-check the expiration dates of your E2 visa and your family members’ visas as well. Since E2 visas are typically valid for two years, make sure to renew them before their expiration date if you plan on traveling outside the U.S. and returning.
While on an E2 visa, you should avoid staying outside the United States for extended periods, as it could potentially be seen as abandonment of your nonimmigrant status.
When returning to the United States, you will present your valid passport and E2 visa to the CBP officer at your port of entry. They will then review your travel documents, ask questions about your purpose of visit, and verify identity. If everything is in order, they will issue you an unexpired Form I-94, allowing you to enter the country.
It is essential to keep your I-94 form safe, as it serves as your admission record and shows your authorized period of stay in the United States. If you lose your I-94 form, you must request a replacement immediately.
Keep track of your travel dates and maintain documentation of your trips, including airline tickets and hotel reservations. This can help prove the validity of your E2 dependent status and reentry upon your return to the United States.
In conclusion, as E2 dependents, we have to be mindful of applicable travel restrictions and reentry procedures to ensure a smooth experience while traveling in and out of the United States. With proper preparation, we can confidently travel and return without jeopardizing our E2 status.