E Visas Report 2020, Colombia
→ Download or View the PDF: The E Visa Report 2020, Colombia – VERDIN Law
E Visas Report 2020, Colombia – Introduction
For decades, Colombians have looked at the United States as a source of opportunity for a myriad of reasons. In fact, as of 2017, according to the Pew Research Center, an organization that analyzes demographics in the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million Hispanics of Colombian origin resided in the U.S.*
And, many of those Colombians have been motivated to reside in the U.S. because of the significant economic benefits that the U.S. offers. As a result, given the relative economic strength of the U.S. compared to Colombia’s economy, it is easy to understand why there are increasing numbers of Colombian investors and companies in a variety of industries that are contemplating expansion opportunities and corresponding immigration strategies.
Additionally, this report provides information on the following:
• Industries that can utilize the E visa strategy
• E Visa opportunities in the U.S.
• E Visa benefits and risks
It is our desire that this report offers a starting point for Colombian businesses as they consider expanding their market reach to the U.S.
However, as political agendas and public health issues interfere with traditional immigration policies and procedures – Colombian business planners (through independent consultation with legal counsel) need to carefully evaluate whether the E visa is an appropriate strategy.
Attorney Isaul Verdin has extensive experience advising multinational companies and entrepreneurs on complex US immigration matters involving investments.
Mr. Verdin focuses on advising companies on structuring entities, acquisitions, and strategic expansion to satisfy US immigration E-1 Visa and E2 Visa objectives in a variety of fields. These include real estate, aviation, technology, manufacturing, retail, luxury goods, and professional services. Additionally, he litigates deportation defense matters throughout the US.
From its inception, VERDIN has gained a reputation for prevailing in even the most complicated immigration matters. He established VERDIN Law as a specialist boutique immigration law firm; serving the needs of immigrants nationwide.
He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and received the Meritorious Service Medal. And served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting federal criminal cases.
What is an E1 Visa?
An E1 visa allows Colombian nationals who are already engaged in international trade with the U.S. to enter the U.S. and continue to engage in substantial trade in products or services between Colombia and the U.S.
In other words, Colombian businesses that already have existing trading relationships with U.S. customers can seek an E1 visa to continue to engage in those activities.
What is an E2 Visa?
An E2 visa allows Colombian investors to enter the U.S. to develop and direct investment projects in the U.S. as a result of a substantial investment into a real and operating business.
What are the E Visa Statistics?
In recent years, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota has continued to approve E visa applications with steady numbers (Chart 1, above).
E Visa Approval Rates
Generally, the E visa category experiences a high approval rate compared to many other visa categories.
The U.S. State Department, in its Report of the Visa Office 2019, provides data to reflect a sharp increase in approval rates in 2019 compared to two prior years (Chart 2, above).
What Industry Sectors Can Utilize E visas?
The USCIS regulations do not limit the availability of the E Visas to specific industries. Put differently, any company can apply if it establishes the eligibility criteria.
For E1 visas, the most common industries export the following to the U.S.:
• petroleum and coal fuel products;
• coffee; spices; precious metals;
• cut flowers;
(Charts 3 and 4 show trade data from 2018).
The U.S. is the largest importer of coffee in the world.
Accordingly, there are interesting opportunities for Colombian coffee exporters. Currently, Colombia holds a comparative advantage in the coffee industry (Chart 5).
In addition, the visa regulations allow for the export of services from Colombia.
Top service industries that sell to the U.S. include travel, tourism,
professional services and management services sectors.
Source for Chart 3 data: https://ustr.gov/countriesregions/americas/colombia
For E2 visas, top investment categories into the U.S. include direct investment into the U.S. real estate markets, both residential and commercial.
Other top investment sectors include professional services.
What are the E Visa Opportunities in 2020 and 2021?
With the ever-increasing digitization of the economy, new technology services companies can apply for E1 visas.
Colombian companies offering services to U.S. companies for back office operational support with IT, marketing, or customer service – can expand their reach further into the U.S. by seeking E1 or E2 visas.
Given that U.S. companies are rapidly moving to a remote workforce, there will be great opportunity for Colombian companies to facilitate that corporate structural shift.
E Visa Opportunity Example 1
A Colombian company has been providing customer service support to American companies for over one year. Two Colombian nationals own the Colombian company. One owner decides to move to the U.S. to seek new U.S. customers. He can apply for an E1 visa as a company owner. A new investment is not necessary for an E1 visa.
E Visa Opportunity Example 2
The same company in example 1 wants to expand into a new service line in the U.S. Let us say that the company will focus on creating digital marketing in Spanish. So, the company owners create a new company in the U.S. This new company will invest in a new website, equipment, furniture, lease, marketing budget, and perhaps hire people in the U.S. This investment will count toward an E2 visa. Company owners can seek an E2 visa.
E Visa Opportunity Example 3
The new company in example 2 wants to bring in a creative director from Colombia to help strategize campaigns for American companies. The creative director can also apply for an E2 executive visa or E2 essential employee visa.
There are many variations, but the above examples provide some strategies to utilize the E visas.
Drone and Information Technology in Delivery
Colombian companies that are prepared to deliver products or services involving information technology to accommodate delivery services stand to gain in the U.S. as the economy demands more automation in all distribution channels. Services may include programming, training, implementation, and maintenance.
Americans used to love exercising in fitness centers, but during COVID-19, this consumer behavior has stopped. Thus, Colombian companies that can provide services or products for this major shift in American behavior away from fitness centers toward home gyms and home training will capitalize on the opportunity.
E Visas – What are the Risks?
The greatest concern in seeking E visas in 2020 and 2021 would be related to U.S. policy concerning COVID-19 travel restrictions. Travel restrictions could impact the ability to plan a launch of a business expansion into the U.S.
A secondary risk would be a change in immigration policy after the U.S. presidential elections in November 2020. However, this risk is low given that both major political parties in the U.S. view E visas as helpful to the U.S. economy. For example, the Trump administration has limited other visa categories – but has not limited E visas.
Another risk could be a severe economic depression if COVID-19 worsens. This could impact business operations in the U.S. and could result in potential business losses.
What are E Visa benefits?
The E visa has key advantages. Colombians should consider some of the following benefits:
• Allows the investor or businessman to indefinitely renew his or her E visa.
• Visa validity period is 60 months.
• Spouses may obtain employment authorization.
• Children under 21 can also obtain an E visa as dependents and attend public or private schools.
• Rapid processing at the US Embassy in Bogota.
• Allows access to U.S. capital markets since the E visa holder will qualify for a social security number and provides the ability to establish credit history.
• Permits E visa holders to sponsor other foreign national executives or essential employees with the same nationality as the E visa principal owner.
• Although the E visas are nonimmigrant visas – there are some pathways to residency, if carefully planned.
VERDIN Business E Visa Solutions
VERDIN’s business and investor group provides help to clients wanting to establish and/or expand their business operations in the United States. We have helped clients in multiple industries to include: international trade, real estate, restaurants and hospitality, technology, beauty and fashion, retail and services.
Our team is especially focused on forming a strategic relationship with our clients to aid them to succeed in the early planning stages. Many of our clients retain us at early stage planning to maximize opportunities for success.
E Visa or Immigration Questions? Please Contact VERDIN Law
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