One of the most helpful ways to immigrate to America and take part in the opportunities for work and life is to through the E-2 Investors visa program. The E-2 program provides full rights to work and live in America to people to invest in, and own, a profitable and growing business of any type, even a law firm. In this article, I intend to share my journey from growing up in Moldova to becoming a lawyer and opening my law firm in New York. I am hopeful that my experience will be useful for other people who want to make a transition to the American way of life and work by opening and operating their own businesses through the E-2 investor’s status.
During my career as a lawyer, I have worked in different professional areas such as public international law, European Union law, civil society, United Nations and human rights. At the beginning of my legal career, my motivation to work in international law stemmed from the idea that I wanted to help people in pursuing their rights and fundamental liberties through international organizations. After a while, I realized that my career goals shifted to finding a direct way for me to help people and decided that I should get a license to practice law in New York, open my law firm and provide legal services to people related to their specific needs. My main areas of practice are trusts and estate planning, elder law and immigration law, which I chose because I believe that it is crucial for individuals to be able to enjoy their economic rights such as the right to protect one’s property, financial planning, the rights to work and live in the United States and the rights of the elderly to enjoy their last stages of life with dignity, care and respect.
The process of getting to the point where I would be able to work as a lawyer in New York and establish my law practice was both lengthy and challenging, but also rewarding. With degrees from Leiden University, the Netherlands and Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova, I chose to study at Columbia Law School, where I graduated with a Master of Law (LL.M.) degree. This was an extremely useful experience because I was able to learn different subjects of common law, which is a legal system that is different from the civil law system that is specific for most European countries including Moldova. Subsequently, I had legal fellowships in New York, Brussels and Bangkok, Thailand focusing primarily on the United Nations and International Law. After these experiences, I realized that I would like my work to be more specific and have more immediate results for the people I intended to help. Therefore, I sat for the New York bar exam and was admitted as a New York attorney.
My next challenge was to find the best way to live and work in New York as a practicing attorney. After consulting with an immigration attorney, I realized that I was eligible for the E-2 investor’s status, which can be obtained by nationals of any country that has a treaty with the United States that facilitates trade and investment by foreigners in the United States. There are over 60 countries that have the relevant treaty, luckily including Moldova.
There are two primary ways to qualify for an investor’s status. First, a foreign national (and her family) can buy an already-existing business and invest a substantial amount in the already-established business in the United States. Second, a foreign national can start a new business and show in a business and financial plan how the business will be profitable for the first five years. I chose the second option and established the Vizdoaga Law Office, which is a New York professional limited liability company (PLLC).
The process of gathering all the required documents was lengthy and rather time-consuming. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) required proof of my credentials (i.e., the license to practice law in New York and experience in the field), a detailed business plan explaining how the law firm will be profitable, the number of employees that the law firm will hire over the initial five-year period, the projected salaries for the staff, the office location, and a clear and convincing marketing strategy. However, while developing the business plan and the full package of materials took time, I was able to submit them for an expedited review, and in one month my E-2 application was approved.
In the end, all the efforts and time dedicated to this process proved to be totally worth it. I am now able to operate my law practice without any additional work permit requirements or visas.
Some of the benefits of having an E-2 investor’s status include:
- Working freely for your business in the United States
- The spouse of the investor can apply for work authorization
- The children of E-2 investors can attend local public schools
- Investors can travel freely in and out of the U.S.
- The chance to renew the investor’s status every 2 years indefinitely
If you believe that an E-2 investor program might be helpful for you, I am here to help. I have first-hand experience in this process, and I would be happy to share it with you so you and your family can enjoy its wonderful benefits. Please contact us with any questions you might have.