Important Changes to E1 & E2 Entrepreneur Visas

On Tuesday August 20, 2019, the French-American community heard of an unexpected announcement in which the conditions of validity for the E1 and E2 non-immigrant visa were revised. Previously, holders of this visa, based on review of their dossier and validation of their business plan, were granted a five-year visa. Following this latest announcement, the reasons for which are still unsure, the validity has been reduced to 15 months. According to American immigration law, visa categories are aligned with the conditions attributed to American citizens in partner countries. However, there has not been a recent change in the French immigration laws pertaining to this visa category. 

Below are a few quick facts about this visa category, followed by important insights from an FACC-NY member and immigration attorney. 

Who are the E1/E2 visas intended for?

  • You must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital; or fill an executive/supervisory role or provide skills essential to the operations of a firm that qualifies as an E-1 or E-2 business.

Which countries are a part of the U.S. reciprocity treaty?

  • An up-to-date list can be consulted on the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

The FACC-NY actively supports entrepreneurs in various sectors through the organization and hosting of pitch nights in collaboration with the binational European-American Chambers of Commerce. Our tech, startup and entrepreneur committee drives though leadership for this community and organizes keynotes, panel discussions and fairs throughout the year. Additionally, the FACC-NY actively works to propel the establishment of French companies in the New York region through tailored Learning Expeditions. We’re following these developments closely and are happy to connect any of our members to an immigration specialist who can advise on their particular case. 

We spoke with FACC Member David H. Nachman, Esq., Managing Attorney, Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak Law Group, P.C., to bring some more clarity to this announcement and what it means for current E1 and E2 visa holders, individuals in the process of applying, or those considering this visa category to launch their business in the United States. 

FACC: Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are commonly referred to as entrepreneur visas and can be granted to citizens of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Effective August 29th, the reciprocity for France will be revised with validity revised from a period of 5 years to 15 months. What precisely does this mean for applicants whose approval is pending? Will they be grandfathered into the current policy, based on the date of their application (prior to August 29th)?

DN: Based on the information available, the E visa applications that are currently pending with the US Embassy in France (Paris) can still be granted with a validity period of up to 60 months (5 years) if they were adjudicated before the change will enter into effect on August 29th. As a result, the E Applicants who have already been interviewed by a consular officer at the Embassy and the applicants who will be interviewed prior to August 29th should remain eligible for a 60-month visa stamp. However, it should be noted that consular officers can exercise discretion concerning the visa’s validity period; the 5 years validity was the maximum v