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Houston is a multicultural and a diverse city, with 145 languages spoken in the city as per the latest U.S. Census data. It is truly international, which is why people from all over the world call Houston home. Many foreign nationals choose to invest in Houston because of the great opportunities it affords. The investor visa they qualify for generally depends on the amount of their investment. Some individuals come to this country and to Houston with an EB-5 investor visa. While the EB-5 visa is a great option for those who are prepared for a very significant investment, and it provides a path to residency and ultimately to U.S. citizenship, it is not for everyone as it requires a minimum investment of $500,000. That is why many foreign nationals choose differently and come to the United States through another investor visa option, known as the Treaty Trader (E-1), or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa.
The E-1 and E-2 visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. The purpose of the investor visa is for a foreign national to come to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which one has invested a substantial amount of capital.
Treaty Treader E-1 Visa requirements, generally:
• You must be a citizen of a treaty country.
• The trading firm for which you plan to come to the United States must have the nationality of the treaty country, meaning persons with the treaty country’s nationality must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise.
• The international trade must be substantial, meaning that there is a sizable and continuing volume of trade.
• More than 50 percent of the international trade involved must be between the United States and the treaty country.
• Trade means the international exchange of goods, services, and technology.
• You must be an essential employee, employed in a supervisory or executive capacity, or possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. To qualify as a Treaty Investor E-2 Visa, generally:
• The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country. • If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
• The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable.
• The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking.
• It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.
• You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense.
• You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.
When an individual is outside the United States, the individual must apply to a U.S Embassy or Consulate in the home country for the E-1 or the E-2 visa. While within the United States an applicant may be able to request that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) change the status to an E-1 or E-2 visa.
Houston is made better by successful investments of immigrants from all over the world. As an immigrant and as an Albanian, however, I must speak about the Albanian community in Houston and their successful investments. It is impossible to mention them all, but I am very fond of the Brother’s Pizzeria with seven locations throughout our city, not only for their pizza which is one of a kind, but because they do so much for the Houston community. You can find the owners at any given day delivering pizza and providing free lunches for the firefighters or to the medical personnel.
I am also very impressed with Underground Hall, located in Houston’s beautiful downtown, which opened in the midst of the pandemic, and is flourishing. Visit Moonshine Deck in the Houston Heights, and Good Times Café on Travis Street, for great food and Happy Hours. I can’t wait for the opening of D’Alba Draft and Kitchen in Garden Oaks and Oak Forest this summer. These newly started and very cool and hip cafes and restaurants are a blend of the multicultural food in Houston and the Albanian hospitality at its best. The most interesting parts about those businesses, however, are the stories of immigrants behind them, and their courage to do something great in our city that we all love, even during a pandemic.
For mor information, contact attorney Olsa Cano at Cano Immigration PLLC. 832.288.2727 – CanoImmigration.com.