EB-1, E-2 Visa for NIEs during Covid

Travelling to the United States During Covid: Extension to National Interest Exception (NIEs)

Life in America is returning to something resembling normality following a successful roll out of Covid-19 vaccines. However, disruption continues at the border with travelers from Europe (Schengen area), the UK, Ireland, China, India, Iran, Brazil and South Africa still banned unless you can obtain a National Interest Exception (NIE).

While restrictions may soon lift on the UK and Europe, the entry restrictions on the other countries show not sign of abating in the short term. Consequently, the State Department has extended the validity of NIEs to twelve months, permitting multiple entry to the US, so long as they are used for the purpose for which they are granted.

National Interest Exceptions permit travel to the United States, despite border restrictions. As the name suggests, you must be able to prove that your visit is in the US national interest.

Acceptable definitions of national interest include:

  • Directing significant economic activity
  • Journalist work
  • Supporting public health initiatives
  • Extraordinary humanitarian grounds

We have helped multiple clients obtain National Interest Exceptions permitting them to travel to the United States. Many of our E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, L-1 Employee Transfer Visa, New Office L-1 Visa and EB-1c International Manager or Executive Green Card clients may be eligible for National Interest Exceptions (NIEs). The same may be true for people on talent visas, such as the O-1 Visa, the EB-1a Visa, the EB-NIW, EB2 Visa, and other categories.

This issue only affects people coming from certain countries who are not permitted entry to the United States based upon high levels (current or historic) of Covid-19. As the pandemic evolves, new countries may be added to this list, whilst others may be removed. The countries as of today (July 8th) are:

  • China,
  • Iran,
  • Brazil,
  • South Africa,
  • the Schengen Area (Europe),
  • the United Kingdom,
  • Ireland,
  • India

Contact us to discuss how this affects you. Do not arrange travel to the US if you are either in or planning to visit any of the countries on the list above.

Read the State Department’s post.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

L-1 Visa Reopend for US

L-1 Visa Reopens as Trump Ban Expires

The L-1 USA visa route to the United States has reopened after President Trump’s temporary ban came to an end last night. President Biden chose not to renew the ban, which Trump had introduced as part of Covid restrictions last summer. 

L-1A Visa allows international managers and executives to move to the American office of their company for up to seven (7) years. The L-1B Visa allows an employee with specialized knowledge to relocate for up to five (5) years. Spouses of L-1 visa holders can apply for a work permit.  

Trump temporarily banned the L-1 Visa together with the H-1B visa on the grounds that he wished to protect American jobs amid the economic uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. He extended the ban until March 31 shortly before leaving office. Biden opted to let the ban elapse naturally rather than explicitly rescind it.

Ongoing delays

Applicants still have to contend with a reduced number of consular appointments worldwide as well as travel bans affecting people from Europe, the UK, Ireland, and elsewhere. Davies & Associates has successfully made the case for L-1 (and E-2) Visa clients to be granted a National Interest Exception to be allowed to travel to the United States from countries subject to a travel ban. We even managed to secure some L-1 approvals despite the ban.

Many of our clients took the opportunity of the last few months to prepare their applications for when the L-1 route reopened. The release of this pent up demand, coupled with the reduction to consular operations, mean that new applicants could face a backlog and ongoing disruption until things are ironed out.

New Office L-1 Visas

The L-1 Visa is an intracompany transfer visa. It is regularly used by large multinationals to move staff from an overseas office to one of their US offices. It can also be used to support the growth of a new US operation. New-Office L-1 Visas allow entrepreneurs and business owners to send qualifying senior-level employees to the United States to set-up the new business.

Benefits of L-1 Visa

There are many benefits to the L-1 Visa, notably the fact that an accompanying spouse could apply for a US work permit. There are also no annual quotas based upon country of origin, which means there are no wait lists based upon supply and demand. The L-1 Visa is a temporary work visa, but applicants could subsequently decide to transition to a Green Card. The usual route from the L-1 visa to a Green Card is through the EB-1(c) visa. The EB-1(c) visa offers permanent residency for international managers and executives.

L-1 Visa for Indians

Indians are one of the largest recipient groups for the L-1 Visa with over 40,000 issued the year before the pandemic. Indians are not directly eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, so L-1 visa for USA from India is viewed as a popular alternative for Indian business owners and entrepreneurs. However, a small but growing number of Indians are first obtaining Grenadian citizenship in the West Indies and then obtaining an E-2 Visa by virtue of their Grenadian citizenship.

Other countries with large number of applications are L-1 Visa from Mexico, L-1 Visa from Japan, L-1 Visa from the United Kingdom, L-1 Visa from China, and L-1 Visas from Brazil. All have around 10,000 L-1 Visa issuances per year.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

E-2 Visa approved for a Singaporean national during COVID-19

“Immigration Ban” Relaxed for H-1B and L-1 Visa Holders Returning to Same Job

By Maxine Philavong

After several lawsuits that were backed by large U.S. companies, the Trump administration relaxed part of its so-called “immigration ban” on foreign nationals, permitting those on H-1B and L-1 visas to return to their previous held employment in the U.S..

In April, the administration barred all foreign nationals who did not previously hold a valid visa from working in the U.S. for 60 days due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In June, President Trump signed an executive order extending their ban of all workers with a H-1B and L-1 visa, until the end of the year.

This meant that if a person had been waiting for these visas to be issued, or if you already had either of these visas but were waiting for it to get stamped, said person would have now had to wait until at least the end of the year.

The ban put thousands of foreigners waiting for their visas outside of the U.S. in a tough spot. For new visa holders waiting in their home country and those with a visa who had traveled to their home countries for stamping now found themselves barred from returning to the U.S. until the end of the year. Many feared job loss if they were not permitted to return.

Moreover, dependents of the visa holders were impacted, too. If a spouse of the visa holder had traveled to their home country to get their visa stamped but could not secure an appointment before the ban, they may have found themselves stuck in their home country.

However, after pushback from lawsuits that were back by large companies like Apple and Microsoft, the Trump administration has relaxed part of the ban.

Who Qualifies for the H-1B and L-1 Visa Exception?

After relaxing the ban on H-1B and L-1 Visa applications, the Trump administration favors those who qualify for national interest exception. This applies for those who are aiding in the fight against Covid-19 or those whose positions aid in economic recovery in the U.S. Meaning, there special exception for H-1b applications who are “technical specialists, senior level managers, and other workers whose travel is necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the U.S.”

Additionally, for both visa categories, the administration grants exception to those “seeking to resume ongoing employment in the U.S., in the same position, with the same employer and with the same via classification.”

Those traveling under the H-1B and L-1 visa to the U.S. should be able to prove at least two of the five criteria: “Their employer has a continued need for their work even during the pandemic; they make a significant contribution to a critical infrastructure need; they are paid at least 15% more than the prevailing wage; they have an unusual expertise in the industry; or that their employer would suffer financial hardship if their via was denied.”

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.

Please Contact Us to discuss any of the content in this article.

UK, Canada, Australia: Gateways to The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Trump’s Immigration Ban leads to Surge in Interest in UK Visas

By Duncan Hill, Marketing Director, Davies & Associates

Our clients have always been interested in the UK, but we have certainly seen a spike since President Trump suspended a whole lot of US visas in April (and then a whole lot more last week).

The first thing to say is that not all US visas have been suspended. We specialize in two key categories that are exempt. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program and the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa were not included by President Trump, probably because they create jobs and promote investment in the United States.

Nevertheless, our teams around the world are noticing above-average-levels of interest in Britain, especially from clients and agents in Vietnam and India.

One of the ostensible aims of Brexit is to create a more “Global Britain“, attracting the best and brightest from around the world. As part of that, a new points-based immigration system will be introduced next year. Points will be awarded for things like English-language capability, salary bands, and education levels.

As the UK gears up to this, one change has already been made with the introduction of the Global Talent Visa in February. This change is rather more one of style than substance, since it is mostly a rebranding of the “Exceptional Talent Visa

The Global Talent Visa is one of a range of so-called “Tier One” visas offered by the British government. Tier One visas are for “high-value migrants”, such as people bringing investment or talent. By contrast, Tier Two visas are for skilled immigrants with a job offer in the UK.

Another Tier One visa is the Investor Visa, which requires a minimum £2 million investment in UK bonds or shares. Anyone with this visa can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (IDLR) in the UK after five years. That waiting time can be reduced to three years for a £5 million investment or two years for a £3 million investment. It is possible to apply for UK citizenship 12 months after obtaining IDLR, subject to certain other requirements.

Investment AmountApply for Indefinite Leave to Remain
> £2 million5 years
> 5 million3 years
> 10 million2 years
UK Investor Visa

The Innovator Visa and the Start-Up Visas, are also classified as Tier One. These visas are very similar in that they target people with a business idea that is deemed innovative, viable and scalable.

Where they differ is in the stage of development of the businesses they target. The Start-Up visa targets early stage companies and does not require any investment requirement, whereas the Innovator Visa targets slightly more mature firms by requiring minimum investment funds of £50,000.

Start-up visa holders are expected to transition to the Innovator visa when they can prove they have hit the funding threshold. After three years, anyone with an innovator visa can apply to settle in the UK, subject to certain other conditions.

All of these visas will be transitioned to the points based system in a favourable way. So, for example, a £2 million investment will give a person 75 points meaning they automatically exceed the 70-point-minimum threshold for entry.

While there is still considerable uncertainty surrounding immigration policy as the Brexit negotiations drag on, one thing is clear: The UK still wants to attract the “best and the brightest” to its shores.

Davies & Associates has offices in the United Kingdom and throughout the world. We are able to offer advice on the best ways for you to move your business and family overseas. As a law firm with both immigration lawyers and corporate lawyers, we are able to help our clients not just obtain visas, but to establish their firms overseas and stick by their side as they prosper.

Nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. Please contact Davies & Associates to schedule a free consultation.

The President’s Immigration Ban: Why you Should Still Apply for a Visa

Cost of EB 5 Visa

Duncan Hill is marketing director at Davies & Associates LLC. Duncan is not a lawyer and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice.


President Trump tweeted last night that he would sign an executive order banning immigration to the United States. While it is still unclear how this will play out, it is only likely to be a temporary setback. Anyone hoping to apply for a US visa should continue as normal if their circumstances permit.

“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy,” the president tweeted, “as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States.”

Beyond the tweet, there is very little detail on what would be covered in the executive order. Immigration is a broad concept in the United States, ranging from asylum and the rights of undocumented workers to green cards for investors under the EB-5 Visa program. Would, for example, spouses of Americans (K-1 visas) be included in a ban?

Despite the lack of detail, it might still be advisable for would-be immigrants to press on with their applications. For one thing, any ban would likely cause a build-up of demand. Therefore, progressing an application would help secure a good position in the line once a ban is lifted.

While it is difficult to predict when such a lifting would occur (especially as the ban has not yet been ordered), there are still clues. For starters, President Trump said in his tweet this would only be temporary. Moreover, there are also likely to be legal challenges as there were over Executive Order 13769, the so-called “Muslim Ban”. Additionally, this being an election year, a change of administration in January 2021 would likely result in a reversal.

The second, closely related reason to persevere with an application is that it takes time to prepare one. Davies & Associates specializes in EB-5 visas, E-2 visas, and L-1 visas, all of which require significant preparation. This work could still be conducted while a ban was in progress.

Under the EB-5 program an entire family can obtain Green Cards in exchange for a minimum $900,000 investment. The US authorities are meticulous that each dollar is properly accounted for, and this can take time to document.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which processes EB-5 applications, is still operating in spite of Coronavirus. While they are closed to public interactions, they continue to adjudicate cases. Processing times currently range from 30 to 50 months. Reform to the EB-5 adjudications process will probably reduce this, but it nevertheless points to a time frame much greater than a temporary immigration ban.

The E-2 visa allows a family to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business. The applicant must pitch a credible business case to the US authorities, which takes time to prepare.

E-2 applicants must come from an E-2 Treaty Country. If you are not from an E-2 Treaty country, it is possible to become eligible for an E-2 visa by first taking citizenship of a country that is eligible. The cheapest and most cost-effective of these is Grenada, Turkey and Montenegro.

Processing times for these citizenship-by-investment programs are quick. In Grenada, for example, citizenship can be obtained in less than three months. The Grenadian authorities are still processing applications, despite a strict lockdown. There is no requirement to visit the country so applications can be made remotely.

Davies & Associates has helped clients obtain the E-2 visa in this way. Countries non directly eligible for the E-2 visa include India, China, Russia, Vietnam, South Africa and Nigeria. Davies & Associates has helped people from non-Treaty countries become eligible for the E-2 visa.

The L-1A visa moves managers within the same company, from an overseas office to an American one. At D&A we specialize in so-called “new office” L1s. This is where we help clients set up a US branch of their existing business and then move themselves or a colleague there to manage the new office.

Inevitably it is necessary to set up the US office before applying for the visa. Again, this is work that could be done regardless of an immigration ban. Our corporate lawyers have helped hundreds of foreign businesses relocate and thrive in the United States.

So, given the time it takes to prepare a visa application and the uncertainty surrounding the ban, it is advisable to start applying regardless. The USCIS and American embassies would likely face a backlog once any ban is lifted. Secure yourself a good position in the queue by proceeding with your application.