Journalism Next from Southeast High School: Why I have to leave the U.S. when I turn 21

Special to the HeraldJanuary 14, 2013 

There's an awful lot of emphasis in the media on immigration and what the government is doing to sort that out, but I never turn on the TV and see a bunch of talking heads discussing changes made on the E-2 Visa, rather just countless "discussions" on illegal immigration.

It seems as though those here legally have been pushed out of the media spotlight in order to make room for the latest Fox News piece on why illegal immigration is killing the economy, or the latest CNN talk on why it is in fact bolstering the economy.

Now, legal immigration is rather prominent into the United States. Around one million people legally immigrate to the U.S. annually, utilizing different methods to do so. Most people know about green cards or citizenship tests from mainstream media, but apparently not many people have heard of the E-1 or E-2 Visa, the latter of which is the method my family chose to move over here with.

The E-2 Investor's Visa is a temporary (yet somewhat permanent) means of moving to the States. The visa's foundations are capitalist in nature, being created solely to increase investment into the United States via the investors who wish to receive one. The first E-2 treaty was formed way back on July 3rd, 1815, between the United States and my home nation of the United Kingdom.

In order to acquire an E-2 Visa, an investment must be made in an American enterprise by the prospective recipient. The U.S. Government, always being one for specifics, does not have a set amount of money that should be put into the investment. Instead, the investment must be deemed large enough to provide the investor with incentive to attempt to develop the enterprise they invested in. The investment must also be significant enough to create a profit, and not just the price of living for the Visa owner.

After making the investment, the investor may receive their Visa and can move to the U.S. in orderto develop the business, doing so by being in a specialized or leadership position in the business.

For example, my mother and uncle both invested in a UPS Store before moving here, which, now that they live here, they both run. In the unfortunate event of the business failing for whatever reason, the visa holder must return to their home country. Which in our case would mean that if people stopped wanting to ship things, we'd have to go back to Scotland.

On the other hand, if the business is continuously making profit, then the visa may be renewed every five years until the business stops making profit (which is why I said it is temporary yet somewhat permanent earlier).

There are a few strange quirks about the E-2 Visa. E-2 Visa holders pay the same taxes as the average American, but do not receive the benefit of a homestead allowance. Also, children under the age of 21 whose parents have immigrated to the U.S. on an E-2 Visa are given E-2 Dependent Visas, which means that they are dependent on the validity of their parents' visa to stay in the country. Those children may not work in the United States, which is something I've never really figured out the reason for. Also; all E-2 Visa holders must renew their driver's licenses yearly, and this apparently includes learner's permits, as mine has the word TEMPORARY in red on it and has been expired since November first.

When I turn 21, I am no longer eligible for a dependent visa, which means that I must leave the country in order to fill out my own. This is probably the most frustrating aspect of the visa, as whatever life I have made for myself in America by that point will have to be put on hold while I return to Scotland and attempt to acquire my own means of entering the country.

From my perspective, I'm honestly quite tired of seeing such a heavy emphasis put on illegal immigration reform, when legal immigration is quite obviously in need of reformation itself. Also, just in case anyone disputes my complaints with "Why don't you guys just get green cards?" which is something I've heard quite a lot, the investment that is required for us to receive one is half a million dollars. So it's safe to say that we probably won't be using that approach to permanent residency.

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