For many high net worth individuals and their families, the United States is perceived as the preeminent investment destination. Thanks to the E-2 visa, the US offers foreign investors, from countries that have a treaty with the US, a chance to make an investment in an existing or new business venture in the world’s leading economy.
E-2 visa nonimmigrant classification allows an individual to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a US business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.
What is an E-2 Visa?
The E-2 visa is a long-term, nonimmigrant visa that is available for foreign investors who live in countries that have signed an investment treaty with the United States. This investor’s visa can be renewed as long as the US sponsoring business employs several full-time workers and continues to be profitable.
In order to apply and obtain an E-2 visa, the Investor must meet the following criteria:
1.Nationality: The investor must be a national of a treaty country, and at least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.
2.Substantiate amount of Investment: The amount of investment must be substantial to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment required for a low-cost business enterprise is generally higher than the percentage of investment required for a high-cost enterprise.
3.Real, operating enterprise: Speculative or passive investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
4.May not be a Marginal Investment: The investment must have the capacity to generate significantly more income than just to provide a living for you and your family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
5.Control of Funds: You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise only are not considered to be at risk.
6.Source of Funds: We need to document that funds invested in the business come from the legal source.
E-2 Visa Advantages
- You can work legally in the US for a company that is a subject of your investment
One of the main advantages of the E-2 visa is that you can conduct business legally within the United States and also be employed by that business. Whether the company is pre-existing or is just starting up, it is important to show evidence that you play a vital role in the business. As proof, you need to show that you will be developing and directing the E-2 visa investment. It can be done by demonstrating ownership of at least 50% of the company. You can prove this by providing a list of owners and their percentage of ownership.
- There is no minimum investment amount that is required
The US law does not specify a minimum or maximum amount for an E-2 visa investment, nor does not specify what a substantial amount is. Generally, the applicant should be prepared to invest at least $100,000.00 US dollars in the enterprise. This amount is considered to be large enough to lead to the successful operation of the E-2 enterprise.
- The spouse of the E-2 visa holder can legally work in the United States
Spouses of E-2 investors will be issued an E-2 dependent visa for family members to reside in the US. These family members may apply at the same time as the E-2 investor or after the investor obtained an E-2 visa. The spouse may apply for a work permit after arriving in the US. This work permit is called an “Employment Authorization Card”, which is an identification card that USCIS issues to certain qualifying foreign nationals to work in the United States. In general, the spouse may work for any employer and in any job in the US (except certain government positions that require US citizenship) and may also start their own business using the work permit.
- Children under age 21 can attend school
Children under the age of 21 do not qualify for a work visa, however, they are able to pursue a higher education that will be accredited. After the child has reached 21, they can no longer stay in the US as an E-2 dependent visa. They will have to apply for their own visa, which can permit them to stay in the US to continue school or/and begin to work.
- E-2 visa holders can travel freely in and out of the United States
As long as the E-2 visa is valid, foreign investors and their dependents can travel freely as long as the visa is valid.
- E-2 visa may be renewed an unlimited number of times
E-2 visa is granted by the US embassy, which determines the validity of the visa. This may vary from 3 months (for example Ukraine), through 2 years (for example Mexico) to 5 years (for example Italy).
There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
Investors, who are interested in living and working in the United States temporarily, are the best candidates for the E-2 visa. This may not be the best visa type for individuals who are looking for a permanent option to live and work in the United States. The best way to find out which visa type is best for you is to contact our consultant to handle the specifics.
Passright can help you file an E-2 visa based on the USCIS change of status request and U.S. Department of State guidelines. With years of experience helping investors get their start in the U.S. Passright is uniquely equipped with the knowledge to help you with your specific E-2 case. If you are interested please contact us.
What is an investment visa?An investment visa is a type of visa available to foreign nationals who wish to move to the United States on a temporary basis to do business there.
What is the minimum investment for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Scheme?There is no minimum investment requirement for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Scheme. Instead, the amount invested will be viewed on a qualitative basis, taking into consideration the nature of the business and the amount of capital necessary to establish that type of business on a successful basis. If the amount of capital actually invested is the same as the cost of the business, the investment is considered to be 100% of the required funds, and is considered “substantial.”
- The E-2 Investor visa does not lead to permanent residency, nor does it provide a qualifying basis. Therefore, they do not enjoy the benefits of being permanent residents. However, after entry, the E-2 visa holder is eligible to explore and proceed with alternative options for permanent residency using a different approach and other available visas, for example, EB-1A.
Who is eligible for an E-2 visa?Eligibility for E-2 visa is based on the applicant’s citizenship status. Not all foreign nationals are eligible to apply for the E-2 treaty investor visa. To qualify, you must be a foreign national from a treaty country that participates in a treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or similar agreement with the United States.