If you do not have a million dollars to invest in a green card business, otherwise known as an EB-5 Visa, the E-1 and E-2 Visas are the next best thing. But where did they come from? The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1924 created the treaty trader class, and they called it the E-1.
That saw an increase in international investment, so in 1952 the INA expanded the E-1 treaty trader class to create the E-2 treaty investor class to promote the goals of increasing international investment and attracting foreign investments to the United States.
The basis of the E-2 investor visa is an authorizing treaty or agreement signed between the United States another country. Prior to 1981, the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation (FCN) constituted the only document that created E-1 or E-2 status.
Since that time there have been a number of changes in the E visas. But one sticking point remains: E visas do not lead to permanent residency, green cards or citizenship. Thus, when the children of an E visa holder turn 21, they must leave the country. Likewise, if the E visa holder stops doing the business which is the basis of the visa, he or she must leave the country.
Recently there has been a push to change this aspect of the E visas, especially since people who hold those visas are substantial contributors to the U.S. economy. Perhaps the proposed immigration reforms that are now pending before congress will address these issues. We shall see.