The E-1 and E-2 visas are only available to citizens of countries with treaties of trade and commerce with the U.S. The U.S. and New Zealand signed such a treaty last August. The State Department maintains a list of treaty countries.
The E-1 visa allows foreign nationals whose home country has a treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. to work in international trade—the exchange of goods, services or technology—on their own or for an employer. The E-2 visa allows foreign nationals whose home country has a trade treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. when investing capital in a U.S. business. Employees of the investor or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for E-1 and E-2 visas.
Benefits of E-1 and E-2
Even though the E-1 and E-2 are temporary (nonimmigrant) visas, they can be extended indefinitely every two years as long as the conditions under which the visa was granted remain in place. In addition, the spouse of an E-1 or E-2 visa holder is eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (work permit). Moreover, employees of the E-1 or E-2 visa holder may also be eligible for E-2 visas.
Specifically, the E-2 visa offers several advantages over the EB-5 Investor Green Card. The E-2 visa does not require a minimum investment amount like the EB-5 Investor Green Card. The EB-5 investors need at least $1 million or $500,000 if the investment is located in a rural or high unemployment area. And those minimum investment amounts may increase soon. Meanwhile, an E-2 visa only requires an investment that is “substantial and sufficient” to create a successful business in the U.S. Typically, the amount invested is well below the minimum investment for an EB-5 visa.
Options in New Zealand
The E-2 visa also opens up opportunities for U.S. companies to transfer foreign workers who cannot renew or otherwise obtain U.S. visas, such as the H-1B, to work or open an office in New Zealand. Of course, companies can also hire foreign workers outright in New Zealand.
Options for Companies
New Zealand startups and established companies may be eligible to transfer employees to open a U.S. office.
And U.S. companies can transfer foreign workers who cannot renew or otherwise obtain U.S. visas, such as those not selected in the H-1B lottery, to work or open an office in New Zealand.
After an employee works in New Zealand for at least one year, a company can sponsor the employee for one of the following U.S. visas:
- L-1A Intracompany Transferee Managers and Executives
- L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge Workers.
- EB-1C Green Card for Multinational Managers and Executives
- E-2 visa if the individual is a citizen of New Zealand.
Please remember, we only practice U.S. immigration law. This blog is not intended as legal advice for obtaining a visa in New Zealand. Reach out to us if you would like a referral to an immigration attorney in New Zealand.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team closely monitors immigration developments here and abroad. We take pride in our creativity to determine the best option for you, your company, your employees or your family.