With the COVID-19 crisis, the impact has been major to many people’s day to day lives. Over 3.8 million workers were laid off and many businesses across the United States have shut down. For Nonimmigrant workers with H1B visas, the impact has been severe because many were laid off from their jobs. They feel left out.
An H1-B Worker Can Stay Up To 60 Days Upon Termination
An H1B worker who is terminated or laid off from employment may remain in the United States in valid status for 60 days, or until their I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, expiration date, whichever date is first. The same 60-day grace period also applies to the dependents of H-1B visa holders.
What To Do If You Cannot Find An H1-B Sponsor?
You Can Apply For An E-2 Visa While Being Under an H1-B Visa
An H-1B recipient may apply for a change of status to the E-2, Treaty Investor Nonimmigrant Visa, by filing a Form I-129, Application for Nonimmigrant Worker. The Form I-129 should be timely filed within the 60-day grace period. The E-2 applicant will be in a period of authorized stay while the Form I-129 remains pending.
The E-2 Visa Is A Popular Choice For H1-B Visa Holders
- The E-2 visa does not require a job offer
- The E-2 visa has been a highly effective option to start a business or buy an existing business
- Employees of E-2 visa holders and their dependents may also be eligible for this visa classification.
ImmigrationBusinessPlan.Com helped numerous H1-B Visa Holders to transition to the E-2 visa. Your country, however, needs to be eligible for the E-2 visa.
7 Key Rules Of The E-2 Visa
1. Country Eligibility
You must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. If you are a business, the nationality is determined by the nationality of the individual owners of that business.
To find out whether you are a national of an E-2 treaty country, go to the Department of State website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html
You must apply for the E-2 visa mainly to develop and direct the business. You must show at least 50% ownership of the business or have operational control through a managerial position or other corporate structure.
Your investment must be more than a marginal one solely for earning a living. You must possess and control the capital assets and funds invested which were legitimately acquired. Examples are savings, gift, inheritance, etc. and these funds do not have to originate from outside of the United States. However, the inheritance of a business does not qualify as an investment.
If you are in the process of investing, the funds, or assets you will invest must be committed to the investment, and the commitment must be real and irrevocable. Moreover, you must be close to the stage of starting the business.
4. Managerial Role
5. For Employees
If you are an employee of the enterprise, it must be as an executive, supervisor, or essentially skilled employee.
Furthermore, the employer must meet the E-2 nationality requirement, the employer and employee must have the same nationality, and the employer must maintain their E-2 visa status.
6. Intent To Depart
You must intend to depart the United States when the E-2 status terminates. Once approved you will be allowed to stay a maximum initial stay of 2 years. You can request an extension of stay in increments of up to 2 years each. There is no limit to the number of extensions you can request or the USCIS can grant.
You can to the U.S. embassy in your country to request an extension of up to 5 years.
There are ways to transition to an immigrant status down the road.
7. For Spouses
Your spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old may stay with you whether you are an investor or employee. The nationalities of your dependents do not have to be the same nationality as yourself.
Spouses may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with the fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work.
How Do You Apply For An E-2 Visa?
Since you are in the United States, you apply for an E-2 visa by submitting Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker.
What Are The Supporting Documents?
• Copies of your last 2 pay stubs, Form W-2, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) transcripts of your federal individual income tax return for the three most recent tax years, and other relevant evidence. You can get copies of your IRS transcripts at:
https://www.irs.gov/uac/newsroom/request-a-transcript-or-copy-of-a-prior-year-tax-return• Your I-797, Notice of Approval, of your H1B status
• I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, from the Customs and Border Patrol; note if you do not have the hard copy of your I-94, you can get a copy online at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94
• All the pages of your current passport.Documents supporting you qualify for the E-2 Visa
• Ownership and Nationality of the E-2 treaty investor. Lists of investors with current status and nationality, stock certificates, certificate of ownership issued by the commercial section of a foreign embassy, and reports from a certified personal accountant;
• Substantial investment. Copies of partnership agreements (with a statement on proportionate ownership), articles of incorporation, payments for the rental of business premises or office equipment, business licenses, stock certificates, office inventories (goods and equipment purchased for the business), insurance appraisals, annual reports, net worth statements from certified profession accountants, advertising invoices, business bank accounts containing funds for routine operations, and funds held in escrow;
• For E-2 employees only: Certificates, diplomas or transcripts, letters from employers describing job titles, duties, operators’ manuals, and the required level of education and knowledge.
3. Family members:
If your dependents are already in the United States, they must apply using Form I-539, Application to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status, with the fee, $370.00. The Form I-539 may be submitted with your I-129 application packet.
How much is the filing fee?
The filing fee is $460.00 payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
Premium Processing: If you are requesting Premium Processing Services for Form I-129, you must also file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Services with the applicable fee. NOTE: There are no premium processing at this time, so check the USCIS website for updates at https://www.uscis.gov/i-129
Where to file the Form I-129 for E-2 Visa Applicants
U.S. Postal Service:
USCIS California Service Center
Attn: I-129 E-2
P.O. Box 10129
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1012
FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
USCIS California Service Center
Attn: I-129 E-2
24000 Avila Road
2nd Floor, Room 2312
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
The E-2 visa application process, especially the supporting documents, can be complex and overwhelming. The goal is to submit the E-2 application packet as complete as possible, within your 60-day grace period. Therefore, you may want to consider retaining a qualified immigration attorney to represent you.