2020 is not the year of the trend. It is the year of no business, no travel, no fun. The worldwide pandemic has slowed down immigration to everywhere and from everywhere. However, many entrepreneurs around the world are just gearing up for their next “big move” – a move, perhaps, to the United States.
Statistics published last week in IMI showed the 2019 fiscal year (FY) was the third-best year on record for the E2 program in terms of the total number of visas issued. Due to the lengthy and extensive US consulate closures this year, FY 2020 (which will end on September 30th this year) is unlikely to be a bumper year but it now appears the trend for the E2 visa in FY2021 is on its way up. Because of a confluence of events in many treaty countries, the E2 visa may emerge as one of the most popular visa options in the next 12-18 months.
Below, I’ve outlined seven specific reasons why I predict the E2 visa will pick up steam in FY2021:
#1 – Mexicans: Longer E2 visa validity and the AMLO push-factor
Mexico E2 visa applicants will likely increase throughout 2021. The presence of a president, who potential clients have described to me (multiple times) as “trying to turn Mexico into Venezuela,” is driving more Mexican HNWI to attempt to salvage some of their wealth and multiply their options. The E2 visa is a great fit for many of these, who are interested in moving to Miami, Florida, or Texas, where San Antonio and Austin seem to be the most popular options.
Moreover, the E2 visa validity just increased to four years for Mexican nationals. (Before this increase, two weeks ago, Mexican nationals had to renew the visa every year. Now they can wait for four years before needing to renew.)
#2 – Canadians: Trending upwards for 10 consecutive years
Canadian E2 visa applicants will continue to apply for the E2 visa in large numbers. Canadian E2 participation has trended upwards for a decade straight, without exception. As pointed out in an IMI article last week, the Canadian tendency to apply for E2, perhaps ironically, accelerated significantly during the Trump years, and the number of E2 visas issued to Canadians in 2019 was nearly four times greater than in 2010.
Many Canadians decide to move to the US for the weather – and the Southern states aren’t going to run out of sunshine anytime soon. Furthermore, even though the US saw many cases of COVID-19, it also had one of the more active economies in the world throughout the pandemic with a relatively short and narrow economic shut-down. For those who have been completely shut down for months, and for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the US is still a great option.
#3 – Smaller countries will increasingly participate in the E2 visa program
Many countries’ economies have been devastated by the pandemic. Indeed, no country has gone untouched. However, the United States, due to its sheer size and varied composition of its different economies on the state-level, will likely be less affected by recession than smaller economies. Though the US, as a whole, will doubtless suffer economically from the pandemic, individual states will be asymmetrically affected.
#4 – Brexit and COVID-slump will drive English applications
UK E2 visa applicants will grow in number. Because of Brexit, the COVID-induced recession, and a strong currency, I expect more UK entrepreneurs to invest in the US. The number of applicants has always been high but has trended upward for the last two years, settling at 3,253 in FY2019, an all-time high.
#5 – Safety is nice, but freedom is better
People everywhere are wanting “out.” No matter where “here” is, people want to escape. Being at home for months on end has led many people (entrepreneurs, in particular) to want to flee. The American capitalist spirit, along with news that some US states have been much more lax with business shut-downs, has and will continue to lead more business owners to the largest capitalist economy in the world.
#6 – What’s bad for EB-5 is good for E2
Since 2015, when EB-5 applicants first became acquainted with the term “retrogression”, E2 has taken a greater market share from the EB-5 each year, as investors increasingly learn that E2 can be a viable alternative if you aren’t opposed to physically relocating.
Despite years of lobby efforts and attempts from certain elements of the legislature, retrogression has not been dealt with; the EB-5 program is still capped at 10,000 visas. Not only do decade-plus wait times remain unresolved, the price for EB-5 also nearly doubled last year, from a minimum of US$500,000 to US$900,000.
In the absence of radical regulatory or legislative changes, a big chunk of those investors who might otherwise have opted for the EB-5 will seek the alternative solutions that E2 can offer. Sometimes this move is happening instead of the EB-5; but in many cases, this immigration strategy is done in tandem with the EB-5.
#7 – E2 is now among the only viable options for those who want to work in the US
Since the L1 and H1B visa options are now off the table, the E2 prevails. President Trump has “paused” certain work visas used by many all over the world – the L1 visa and the H1B visa – until at least December 31, 2020. As a result, those wanting to move to the US to work are limited to only a few options, the most straightforward of which is the E2 visa.
Although I don’t have a crystal ball, my characteristically American optimism tells me the E2 is the next big thing in US immigration. And I must admit, this is one trend I’m excited to experience.
Angie Rupert is an E2 investor visa attorney based in Los Angeles, California. She has had the pleasure of helping clients from all over the world get E2 visas in order to run businesses here in the United States. She is the founder of Rupert Law Group, one of the few law firms in the US that focuses almost exclusively on E2 visas.