- House Bill Seeks Permanent Residency for E-2 Visa Holders
- DHS Allows F-2 and M-2 Visa Holders to Engage in University-Level Studies
- USCIS No Longer Accepting Prior Versions of Form I-129
- Update: India Extends e-Tourist Visa Program to an Additional 31 Countries
House Bill Seeks Permanent Residency for E-2 Visa Holders
H.R. Bill 1834, introduced by Rep. David Jolly last week, seeks to grant permanent resident status to E-2 visa holders who meet certain requirements. E-2 visas are currently limited to citizens of certain treaty countries who invest substantial amounts of “at risk” funds in active enterprises. The E-2 visa holder must also come to the United States to specifically direct the enterprise and must have at least 50% ownership in the enterprise. E-2 visas, which are issued in 2 year increments, can be renewed indefinitely at present, but the Foreign National must maintain nonimmigrant intent to eventually depart the United States.
If this bill is passed into law, E-2 visa holders will be eligible to obtain lawful permanent residency after living in the country for 10 years, provided their investment creates at least 2 full-time jobs. H.R. Bill 1834 would also allow the children of E-2 visa holders to remain in the country until they are 26 and apply for work authorization when they are 18. Current regulations allow for the children of E-2 visa holders to be in the U.S. until they are 21 but do not grant them work authorization. In 2009, a similar bill was introduced to give E-2 visa holders a path to permanent residency, however it never left the House Judiciary Committee.
DHS Allows F-2 and M-2 Visa Holders to Engage in University-Level Studies
In accordance with a new DHS rule, F-2 and M-2 visa holders will be permitted to engage in part-time studies at schools certified with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) beginning May 29, 2015. F-2 visas, which are given to the dependent spouses and children of F-1 student visa holders, are currently only able to engage in Kindergarten through 12th grade study. M-2 visas, which are given to the dependent spouses and children of M-1 vocational visa holders, are currently limited to Kindergarten through 12th grade study as well as studying in a vocational school. Under the new rule, F-2 and M-2 visa holders will be eligible to enroll in part-time studies in any SEVP-certified school, including colleges and universities. However, in order to enroll in full-time studies at an SEVP-certified school, the F-2 or M-2 visa holder must apply to change to F-1 or M-1 status.
USCIS No Longer Accepting Prior Versions of Form I-129
Beginning May 1, 2015 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will only accept petitions filed for nonimmigrant workers using the most recent version of Form I-129. The updated Form I-129 was released in January 2015. USCIS continued to accept petitions filed on prior editions of the form through April 30, 2015, at which time the transition period ended. The change does not impact petitions already filed and receipted with USCIS.
Update: India Extends e-Tourist Visa Program to an Additional 31 Countries
As an update to our previous report, India has extended the e-Tourist Visa, or eTV (formerly the Tourist Visa on Arrival), to 31 additional countries, including France and Canada. Citizens of these countries can travel to India using the eTV program startingMay 1, 2015. Visitors eligible for the eTV include those traveling to sightsee, visit friends or relatives, or to make short medical visits.
The program allows individuals from designated countries to apply online for a visa to India before entering the country through one of nine designated airports. Designated airports are located in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Trivandrum. Upon arrival, a traveler will have to show a copy of the visa application to the proper officials at the airport and complete the biometrics process before receiving the eTV in his/her passport.
eTV validity is limited to 30 days from the date of arrival and cannot be extended. To apply, applicants must pay a fee and upload a recent photo and a passport valid for at least six months following the planned date of arrival in India.
This expansion brings the total number of countries covered under the program to 76. The Indian Government has expressed the goal of expanding the program to 150 countries over the next year.