When it comes to immigration reform, many lawmakers are focused on improving the H-1B worker visa program and the EB-5 investment visa program. However, many believe changes should also be made to the E-2 treaty trade visa for entrepreneurs, which offer business people from certain countries an opportunity to invest in a new American enterprise.
Currently, visa holders and economists alike complain that the E-2 visa may be stifling new businesses and new jobs in the United States, while at the same time making life difficult for those who want to come from overseas to invest and for those who want to start lives on American soil after making a significant investment.
As other countries unveil new investment immigration plans that allow for foreigners to more easily bring their money, ideas, and business acumen to their shore, the United States has struggled to reform their programs. E-2 visa holders lament that they have to renew their visa every few years and that the non-immigration visa does not lead to permanent residency even after decades of helping the economy and creating jobs. Some have had to send adult children – people who have spent their lives in the United States – back to their country of origin when they turn 21. Others have had to face the sudden rejection of their visa renewal – an issue that caused businesses to shut down and families to be separated.
Last year, about 33,000 E-2 visas were issued. One recent proposal written by Rep. John Conyers outlined an E-2 visa reform that would offer green cards to visa holders whose businesses created at least five jobs on American soil.