Citizens of countries with the required reciprocal treaty arrangements with the U.S. may live and work in the U.S. as nonimmigrant E-1 “treaty traders” or E-2 “treaty investors.” Treaty visa holders coming to the U.S. to direct, develop or manage the business of the treaty company may remain in the U.S. for an indefinite period of time. The spouse and minor children of E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrants may accompany the principal visa holder during their stay in the United States.

The minor dependents of treaty visa holders, however, remain eligible for treaty visa status only until the age of 21. Timely planning is required to allow the adult children of treaty visa holders to remain in the U.S. in lawful status beyond the age of 21.

Immigration as a Family Prior to Child’s Age of Majority

It may be an option for the family as a whole to become lawful permanents of the U.S. under one of the available immigrant visa categories well in advance of the 21st birthday of any accompanying children. With planning, it maybe possible for the business in the U.S. upon which treaty status is based to support an immigrant visa petition filed on behalf of the treaty principal. One example of this would be where a treaty company is established as a platform for an eventual immigrant investor petition based upon the required minimum investment under the EB-5 provisions (currently a minimum of $900,000 in qualified locations). In other cases, the treaty company may be qualified to sponsor the treaty national under one of the other employment-based immigrant visa categories.

Apply for Change of the Child’s Nonimmigrant Status

When it is not possible to complete the immigration of the family prior to the 21st birthday of an accompanying child, it is often possible for the child to file a timely application with USCIS to change his or her status to that of an F-1 nonimmigrant student. This will typically allow the child to continue to reside at least temporarily in the U.S. to complete his or her studies and perhaps pursue other nonimmigrant or immigrant visa options in the U.S. beyond graduation.

If you are an E-1 or E-2 treaty holder who needs to plan for the continuation of the visa status of a son or daughter, you should consult competent legal counsel to discuss your particular situation. Keep in mind that this article is written as general information on visa matters and is not intended to provide legal advice for any individual’s particular situation.