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E-2 Visa: CNMI-Only Investor

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transitioned from the CNMI permit system to U.S. immigration laws in December 2014. The CNMI-Only Investor (E-2) visa, which expired in December 2014, allowed foreign, long-term investors to remain in the CNMI as they changed status during the transition.

The E-2 Visa is for nonimmigrants from countries that maintain a commerce and navigation treaty with the United States. Under an E-2 Visa, an individual investing a substantial amount of capital in the U.S. can be admitted into the country. Certain organizations and specific employees might qualify for this classification as well. To request a change of status, you should refer to the U.S. Department of State website for application information.

Initial Petitions for E-2 CNMI Investor Status (E2C) – no longer accepted

You must have filed your initial Form I-129 petition and Supplement E with USCIS before January 18, 2013. USCIS rejects initial petitions filed after that date.

Qualifications for Treaty Investors

In order to qualify for E-2 classification, a treaty investor must:

  • Come from a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S.
  • Have invested, or is in the process of investing, a substantial amount of money to a U.S. enterprise
  • Seek to enter the country for the development and direction of the investment enterprise
  • Prove the investment funds weren’t obtained through criminal activity

A substantial amount of capital is generally defined as:

  • Investment amounts similar or equal to the total cost of purchasing or establishing a new enterprise.
  • Investment amounts that ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the enterprise.

An enterprise refers to a real, active, and operating the commercial or entrepreneurial venture. The enterprise also has to meet the legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction.

E-2 CNMI Length of Stay

If you are in the U.S. with E-2 CNMI investor status, you can extend it every two (2) years until December 31, 2019. Your spouse and/or minors who are with you hold valid status as long as you do.

How to Apply for E-2 CNMI Extensions

You can file a new Form I-129 and Supplement E, any fees, and the following required evidence that you submitted with your initial petition:

  • Have approved E-2 CNMI Investor status from before November 28, 2009
  • Records showing you resided in the CNMI continuously and maintained CNMI long-term investor status
  • Continue to maintain investment(s) that afforded you CNMI long-term investor status
  • Have the ability to enter the U.S. while meeting all other relevant requirements listed in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Hold a long-term business certificate issued by the CNMI for investments of $50,000 or more
  • Hold a long-term business certificate issued by the CNMI for investments of $100,000 or more, with total approved investments of over $2 million, or at least $250,000 in a single approved investment
  • Be a retired investor currently over 50 years of age, who holds a foreign retiree investment certificate for a qualifying investment in an approved residence in the CNMI – this does not apply to those who participated in the two year non-renewable retiree investor program for Japanese nationals

Do Marginal Enterprises Qualify?

Marginal enterprises do not have the capacity to generate enough income for the treaty investor’s minimal living expenses. To qualify for an E-2 visa, the treaty investor’s enterprise cannot be marginal. In some cases, a new enterprise might not be considered marginal, even if it lacks the current capacity to generate minimal income for the investor. Speak with an attorney to see whether or not your investment enterprise meets the criteria for E-2 classification.

There are many hurdles you might face when applying for your visa. However, our immigration lawyer can help you through these legal obstacles. As an immigrant himself, Ashkan understands such difficulties and can help with your legal concerns.

To schedule an initial consultation with us today, don't hesitate to contact us at (949) 478-4963.

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