Citizens of New Zealand now qualify for the E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa thanks to a United States–New Zealand partnership recently signed into law. The KIWI Act, or Knowledgeable Innovators and Worthy Investors Act, signed into law on August 1st, adds New Zealand to the list of eligible countries participating in the E-2 Visa program. This is great news for entrepreneurs from New Zealand seeking to do business in the United States.
Overview of the E-2 Treaty Trader Investor Visa
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a non-immigrant visa type that is only available to foreign nationals of a foreign country with a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement with the United States. A treaty trader visa is issued for an initial period of 2 years that can be renewed in 2-year increments, with no outer limit on the total period of stay. Dependents of the principal E-2 applicant can apply for derivative E visas to accompany the entrepreneur in the United States.
The E-2 visa allows entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business in the United States, or an investment in an existing business in the United States. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.
To qualify the following conditions must be met:
- The investor, either a person, partnership or a corporate entity, must have the citizenship of the treaty country. If a business, at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality;
- The investment must be substantial and the funds have to be “irrevocably” committed.The investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise;
- The investment must be in a real operating enterprise.Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or mere ownership of undeveloped land are not considered an investment;
- The investment may not be marginal.Based on 9 FAM 41.51, the enterprise must either show a financial return that significantly exceeds what is necessary to support a living for the investor or else the enterprise must have the capacity, present or future, to make a significant economic contribution;
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in a commercial sense.If the funds are not subject to partial or total loss if business fortunes reverse, then the investment is not an investment in the sense intended by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 101(a)(15)(E) and in 9 Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) 41.51. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise do not qualify;
- The investor must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise.If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled or unskilled workers do not qualify. Please note that a detailed explanation of why the applicant’s skills are essential for the enterprise in the U.S. or why the applicant possesses qualifying “executive or supervisory: experience may be required;
- The applicant must intend to depart the U.S. when his/her E-2 status ends.
Applicants interested in applying for the E-2 visa must apply at the U.S. Consulate in Auckland, New Zealand. The applicant must prepare their supporting documentation, pay the visas fees, and register in the appointment system, before scheduling their interview.
For more information about the E-2 visa please visit our website.