Integrity Legal

20th December 2010

This blogger recently came upon a press release detailing the enactment of a final rule regarding E-2 visas for those wishing to invest and conduct business in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The following is quoted directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today posted a final rule in the Federal Register that creates a nonimmigrant investor visa classification in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The “E-2 CNMI Investor Visa” allows foreign long-term investors to reside in the CNMI through December 2014. Petitions for the E-2 CNMI Investor classification will be accepted beginning Jan. 18, 2011. Petitions received before Jan. 18, 2011, will be rejected.

Authorized by the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (CNRA) of 2008, the E-2 CNMI Investor Visa will be issued for two years, is renewable, and is valid only in the CNMI. The investor’s spouse and children may also apply for status as dependents of the investor.

For those who are unfamiliar with matters pertaining to the CNMI it should be noted that only recently was this jurisdiction folded into the group of jurisdictions which utilize the Department of Homeland Security to set and enforce immigration law and policy. In the past, the CNMI maintained relatively autonomous status when it came to immigration matters, but newly enacted rules have made CNMI Immigration rules very similar to those of the rest of the USA.

E-2 visas are very useful travel documents for those wish to go to the United States of America (or in this instance, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) for business or investment purposes. Strictly speaking, E-2 visas are non-immigrant visas, but unlike the B-2 visa (US Tourist Visa) the E-2 is effectively treated as if it were a dual intent travel document in the same vein as an L-1 visa. One of the benefits of dual intent travel documents is that the applicant does not need to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent as set forth in section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act.

The E-2 visa is sometimes confused with the EB-5 visa. The United States EB-5 visa is an Immigrant Investor visa. Pursuant to the provisions of relevant American Immigration law the applicant for an EB-5 visa is accorded Lawful Permanent Resident status upon lawful admission to the United States in EB-5 status. It should be noted that the EB-5 visa process can be rather cumbersome as a petition must initially be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Furthermore, the EB-5 visa seeker must also undergo Consular Processing at a US Embassy, US Consulate, American Institute, or US Mission with appropriate Consular jurisdiction. Finally, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) is tasked with inspecting and making findings of admissibility when any foreign national requests admission to the USA. As stated above, upon lawful admission to the USA, an alien national in EB-5 status will be granted conditional lawful permanent residence in the USA.

For related information please see: E2 Visa Thailand.


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