Trump’s 4 Pillars for Immigration Reform: How will Proposed Changes Impact the E2 Visa Program?

Trump's 4 Pillars on ImmigrationIn his State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, President Trump laid out his four pillars that must be included in an immigration reform bill. The plan involves granting a path to citizenship to over 1.5 million so-called “dreamers” (those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children). Currently, many of them are part of a temporary program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is scheduled to expire in March.  

The President wants three things in return for granting dreamers a path to citizenship:

  • $25 billion to fund construction of a wall along 700-800 miles of the southern border with Mexico, as well as several other enhanced border security measures;

  • An end to the visa lottery program;

  • An end to so-called “chain migration” (i.e., limiting family-based immigration visas to just spouses and minor children).

The reasoning behind the President’s proposal is that we need to fully secure the southern border, and that must include construction of a wall – this was one of his central campaign promises when he ran for President. President Trump also wants to get rid of what he calls a “random” visa lottery system and award those visas to skilled workers. And as for family immigration, he believes it doesn’t make sense for one person immigrating to the U.S. to eventually be able to bring parents, grandparents, siblings, in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

It is important to keep in mind that, at this point, this is only a proposal, and it is a long way from becoming law. The Democrats are highly motivated to grant some kind of permanent legal status to DACA recipients, but most believe that President Trump is asking far too much. This dispute led to a three-day government shutdown in late January, and could produce similar standoffs in the coming months.

Since 2018 is a mid-term election year, both parties are treading carefully in dealing with this issue. Democrats are leery of looking responsible for another government shutdown just to help gain legal status for people brought to the country illegally, and Republicans are worried that since they control the White House and Congress, they may ultimately be the ones held responsible if a prolonged shutdown occurs. In the meantime, some Democrats and Republicans are trying to find common ground for a deal that would satisfy both sides and keep the government open.

While no one knows exactly what will finally be negotiated between the President and Democrats in Congress, it is clear that the President’s goals are to shut off the flow of illegal immigrants and reform America’s legal immigration system to make it less family-based and more merit-based. If I were to guess right now, I would say that the final compromise might be to grant legal status (with no path to citizenship) to just the 500,000 or so dreamers who have signed up for the DACA program in exchange for most (if not all) of the $25 billion requested for the border wall. This would leave ending the visa lottery system and chain migration as issues to be tackled in a more comprehensive immigration reform package down the road.

Immigration Reform and E2 Visas

E2 Business Visa in USAThe E2 visa program has been widely used by foreign nationals in recent years who want to start a business in the USA. Thousands are approved each year under the program, and it is widely seen as one of the easiest pathways to residency in the United States. So far, the E2 program has remained mostly off of President Trump’s radar.

In 2017, E2 visa processing times were a little longer than in years past. In addition, applicants were more heavily scrutinized to ensure that their investment amount was “substantial” (in general, this means at least $100,000 USD), their business was “non-marginal” (not a sketchy business model such as multi-level marketing), and that their new business was creating at least two new American jobs.

When Congress and the President finally tackle comprehensive immigration reform, there is a strong likelihood that the E2 visa program will remain in place and not be changed much. There was a report late last year about E2 visas from Grenada, but this has to do with Grenada’s “Citizenship by Investment” program, and the fact that many foreign nationals are using it as a back door into the United States. This has caused E2 applications from Grenada to be looked at more carefully, but this is only because of their specific policies, and has nothing to do with the E2 program as a whole.

So how will immigration reform affect the E2 visa program? The President’s goal is to bring more foreign investment and more skilled workers into the country, and the E2 program is perfectly aligned with these objectives. For this reason, I don’t expect lawmakers to do away with the program or tamper with it too much. If anything, they might be leaning more toward improving the program for those who hold E2 visas.

Last July, Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL) introduced the E2 Visa Improvement Act of 2017, a bill that would allow E2 visa holders who have been in the United States at least 10 years and created at least two full-time jobs for Americans to obtain a green card. Though the bill did not pass last year, this type of change could end up in a broader immigration overhaul.

Another thing to consider is the future of family-based immigrant visas. Whether it becomes law this year or not, the President clearly has his sights set on seriously limiting family-based visas. One of the major advantages of the E2 visa program is that it allows qualified applicants the ability to come to the United States without family, employment, or school connections.

As long as you meet the requirements, you can bring yourself, your spouse, and any children you have under the age of 21. And while you are living in the U.S. and operating your business, your spouse can get a work permit to find outside employment. This can be very helpful in supporting your family, especially during the first year or two when you are building your new business and adjusting to your new life in America.

 

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Private Employers Add 234,000 Jobs in January in Sign that U.S. Economy is Heating Up

Jobs ReportThe first month of 2018 is in the books, and it looks like the economic growth many predicted after the tax reform bill was signed into law is starting to materialize. ADP and Moody’s Analytics report that private employers added 234,000 new jobs in January, exceeding their estimate of 185,000. The Labor Department will report January non-farm payroll jobs tomorrow, and many economists are predicting a similar number.

Update 2/2/2018: The Labor Department report shows that the U.S. economy added 200,000 non-farm payroll jobs in January, 20,000 more than the 180,000 that was expected. Unemployment is at 4.1%, and wages grew at their fastest pace since 2009.

Today, Reuters is reporting that the Atlanta Federal Reserve is now forecasting a whopping 5.4% annualized rate economic growth for the first quarter of 2018. This latest estimate is more than a full percentage point faster than the 4.2% growth they predicted just last Monday. Obviously, it will be a while before we know the actual numbers, but one thing is abundantly clear; the U.S. economy is poised to grow at rates not seen since the 1990s.

Doing Business in the USA

For aspiring entrepreneurs, the positive economic news is a welcome relief from the anemic growth we’ve seen in recent years. Millions of consumers are now getting new jobs, raises and bonuses at existing jobs, and tax cuts, all putting more money into their pockets. And more income means the ability to spend more money on products and services they want and need. If you have been thinking about starting a new business or expanding an existing business, now may be the ideal time.

One way to more quickly capitalize on the economic activity is by franchising. Hundreds of companies across a wide range of industries have franchise opportunities available for those who want to be in business for themselves. The best part about franchising is that although you are in business for yourself, you are not by yourself. The franchisor provides a business plan and training and assistance during the startup phase. And once you are already in business, they provide ongoing support to ensure that you are on track to succeed.

The West Virginia Recovery

West Virginia InvestmentOne of the states that is poised to benefit greatly from the economic resurgence is West Virginia. Late last year, President Trump signed an agreement with China Energy Investment Corporation for the company to invest $83.7 billion in shale gas development and other energy projects in the Mountain State over the next two decades. The $83.7 billion figure is larger than the state’s entire annual gross domestic product (GDP), and is sure to create tens of thousands of jobs in the energy sector.

Energy will not be the only sector that benefits from the Chinese Energy investment, however. Think about all the gas stations, restaurants, automotive centers, children’s services, pet care services, entertainment, and other types of products/services these workers will need. These ancillary businesses will be necessary to support the energy workers, creating countless opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs to get in on the action.

The West Virginia story is just one of numerous examples of major foreign investments in various parts of the United States, all with multiplying effects on their local economies. There are also billions of dollars being repatriated by U.S. companies from abroad. Apple alone has announced that it will bring back hundreds of billions of dollars in capital it has had parked offshore, and they will invest at least $30 billion of that money to create a new campus and add 20,000 U.S. jobs.

E2 Visa Provides Avenue for Foreign Investors to Cash in On U.S. Economy

E2 Investor VisaIf you are a foreign national who wants to be part of the American economic boom, one of the easiest ways to do so is through the E2 investor visa program. With the E2 program, you can obtain a visa to bring yourself, spouse, and children under age 21 to the U.S. when you invest in a U.S.-based business. The requirements of the program include:

  • The amount of the investment must be “substantial”;

  • You must be able to prove that your investment capital was obtained legally;

  • The business you invest in must be “non-marginal”;

  • You must own at least 50% of the business;

  • You must live in the U.S. and be involved in the operations of the business.

While there is no set dollar amount necessary to qualify for the E2 visa program, experience has shown us that your chances of approval are much greater if you have at least $100,000 USD available. Also, since the new administration took office, there has been a much greater emphasis on the number of American jobs your investment will create. It is expected that your new business will create at least 2 jobs for American workers. The more jobs you will create, the better your chances of getting approved.

Finally, to meet the “non-marginal” business standard, you need to stay away from sketchy business models like multi-level marketing and internet marketing. You need to show that your business has a proven model, and that you have a detailed business plan that can realistically produce a viable income for you and your family in the near future.

One of the best ways to help ensure that your business will be approved by a USCIS or consular officer is to partner with a known U.S. franchise brand. Franchises work well with the E2 program because they are established companies that are well-known and recognized by the officer doing your interview. In addition, franchisors provide extensive startup support and a detailed business plan to present at your interview. This makes partnering with a franchisor one of the smoothest paths toward realizing your dream of owning a U.S.-based business.

 

 

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