The E-2 Investor Visa is for individuals who wish to enter and work in the United States based on an investment that will be under the direct control of the applicant. This visa, which is good for a minimum of three months and up to five years, depending on the applicant’s country of origin, can be extended indefinitely, however the investment must be substantial. The USCIS uses an inverted sliding scale to determine if the investment is substantial, based on the overall cost of the enterprise. For new startups, the investment has to be enough to start and operate the business. Once the investor’s role in the business is completed, investors must either return to their home country or change their visa status. While the U.S. does not allow dual intent for the E-2 visa, holders can sometimes adjust their immigration status.

The following are the steps necessary for an E-2 Visa application:

STEP 1 – Business idea  

Most businesses can be run with an  E-2 visa. However, your business should be an active one that you will need to manage every day, such as a restaurant, cafe, web development company, internet product company, store, marketing company, consulting, product delivery, etc. It is not recommended that you invest in companies where your investment is passive, such as long term real estate investing because you want to focus on companies that create full-time job opportunities for US Citizens and Green Card holders. Also, your company should be presented as a Corporation instead of a sole proprietorship. This is because you need to create a business that has the potential for growth and will be profitable enough to hire employees. While there is not an exact number of required employees, creating jobs is a must.

STEP 2 – Funds needed to start the business

The next step is understanding the types of funds necessary to start that type of business in the US, including taking into consideration:

One time startup costs:

  • Company incorporation costs
  • Deposit for the office
  • Office remodeling costs (if applicable)
  • Office furniture
  • Equipment needed for your business
  • Website creation
  • Attorney costs
  • Any other one time costs that might be incurred

Recurring costs:

  • Monthly rent and utilities
  • Scheduled products and services
  • Marketing and other advertising
  • Remuneration for your employees
  • Local, state and federal taxes
  • Any other fixed expenses

Once you calculate your start up costs and projected recurring expenses, you will understand the kind of funding you will need to start your business in the U.S.

You also need to remember that the funds you plan to invest in your business must come from a legal source and must be very clearly documented.

STEP 3 – Business plan

Once the business idea is identified, you can start working on the business plan. The most important parts of the business plan are financial & employment projections for the next 5 years.

When your business plan is complete, you can go to a local government office or find an online company that can help you incorporate your business.  

STEP 4 – Registering your business

There are many steps involved with registering your business in the United States when you have an E-2 Visa. However, in order to register your company, you will need to be able to provide evidence confirming the following:

  1. Origin of funds and transfer of funds from home country to the US
  2. Irrevocable investment – around 20% of the funds transferred to the US company should be spent to show commitment to the business
  3. That your business is real and operating
  4. That you have a business plan with 5 years of financial & employment projection

You will also need to have:

  1. An E-2 application prepared and submitted
  2. An interview at the US embassy back home

Additional Things To Consider About the E-2 Investor Visa…

  • It does not lead to a green card.

The E-2 visa does not lead to a green card. However, if the applicant knows in advance that they would like permanent residency, then it is best to obtain an EB-2 National Interest Waiver or participate in the EB-5 Investor Program, as these are possible options for getting a green card.

  • It is only for people from countries that have a treaty with the U.S.

The E-2 Investor trade visa is only for people from the countries that the U.S. has a treaty with. Those eligible need to be nationals from that country, however, any workers or family members that they bring with them through their E-2 visa status are not required to be from their treaty country, as long as they are of the same nationality.

  • There are no travel restrictions with an E-2 Visa.

One of the best things about this particular visa is that there are no travel restrictions imposed on individuals with an E-2 visa. There is no specified number of times that one is permitted to leave and re-enter the country, nor does the USCIS state how long one can remain abroad before having to come back to the U.S.  

Read also:

Top 10 Troubles New O-1 Visa and E-2 Visa Immigrants Have Upon Arriving to the U.S.

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