The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for investors, entrepreneurs, and people looking to run a business in the United States. With an E2 visa, you can start a US business or invest in a US business and work for that business.
To get an E2 visa, you must invest a substantial amount of capital into a US business and you must direct and develop that business. You can either start a new business or invest in an existing business to qualify for an E2 visa.
The E2 visa is only available to people from certain countries that have an E2 treaty with the United States
There is no limit to the number of times the E2 visa can be renewed. So as long as the E2 business continues to operate and meet the E2 visa requirements, and E2 visa holder can continue to renew their visa and live and work in the United States
· With an E2 visa, you can start a business in the United States and work for that business.
· By getting an E2 visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old can also qualify for E2 visas.
· Your spouse can apply for work authorization, to work in the United States.
· Your children can go to school in the United States.
· There is no set minimum investment amount to qualify for an E2 visa. Investments as low as $50,000 or even lower have qualified for E2.
· There is no limit to the number of times you can extend your E2 visa. Some E2 visa holders stay in the United States for 15 years or longer.
· Unlike other non-immigrant visas, you do not need to maintain a foreign residence to get an E2 visa
· You must invest in a bona fide enterprise
· You must be a national of a country with an E2 treaty with the United States
· You must have the intent to depart the US once your E2 status ends
· You must make a substantial investment in a US company
· Your E2 business must be an active, for-profit business
· The business that you invest in cannot be considered a marginal enterprise
· You must be entering the United States to direct and develop your E2 business
· The source of your investment funds must be lawful
· Your investment must be irrevocably committed to the E2 business and must be at-risk
1. Bonafide enterprise
A bona fide enterprise is defined by the immigration authorities as “a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit”. By failing to do this, your petition will not qualify.
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that your business is bona fide includes:
· Notice of assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
· Tax returns
· Financial statements
· Quarterly wage reports or payroll summaries (i.e., W-2s and W-3)
· Business organizational chart
· Business licenses
· Bank statements, utility bills, and advertisements/telephone directory listings
· Contracts or customer/vendor agreements
· Escrow documents
· Lease agreement
E2 Investor visas are available only to residents of treaty nations. The E2 program is based on international commercial treaties, and thus these visas are available only to citizens of nations with which the U.S. has such treaties. Notably, neither China nor India is a treaty nation, so nationals of those two countries are ineligible for E2 Investor visas.
Here's a complete list of all the countries that have an E2 treaty with the United States
Trinidad and Tobago
2. Intend to depart
For the E2 visa, you can satisfy the "intent to depart" requirement by submitting a signed statement that you intend to depart the United States once your E2 status ends.
3. You must make a substantial investment in a US company
To qualify for an E2 visa, you must make a substantial investment in a US company. The regulations do not specify a minimum investment amount that qualifies as substantial. Instead, a proportionality test is used to determine whether an investment is substantial or not.
To determine if your investment is substantial or not, the immigration official working on your case will calculate the proportion between how much you actually invested in the business to the total value of the business
For businesses with a lower value, your investment should be a very high percentage of the total value of the business to be considered substantial.
Example: If the total value of your business is $100,000 or less, your actual investment should be 100% of the total value of the business, to be considered substantial.
For businesses with a very high value, your investment may be a lower percentage of the total value of the business, to be considered substantial.
Example: If the total value of your business is very high (for example $10,000,000), an investment of $5,000,000 would very likely be considered substantial even though proportionately it is only 50% of the total value of the business
Some evidence you can use to prove that the investment is substantial is corresponding personal and/or business bank statements, itemized list of goods and materials purchased for the start-up, and corresponding financial accounting documentation.
Rule of Thumb
Generally, the investment capital and reserves should total no less than $100,000.
The higher your investment is, the better the chance that your investment will be considered substantial, and the stronger your case will be
4. Active business
The business invested in for an E2 visa must be an active, for-profit, business. The business must conduct some sort of entrepreneurial activity. Examples of businesses that would meet this requirement include companies that sell some kind of a product or service for profit.
Passive investments will not qualify. This means that an investment in a piece of residential real estate, or an investment in the stock market will not work
5. Not invest in a marginal enterprise
Your investment cannot be in a marginal enterprise.
“A marginal enterprise is a business that does not have the present capacity or the future capacity to generate enough income to provide more than the minimal living for the E2 investor and their family”
The enterprise you invest in must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
There are 2 ways to prove that the E2 business is not a marginal enterprise:
· Show that has the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living to you and your family.
· Show that the business has the present or future capacity to make a "significant economic contribution." You can prove this by showing that the business either currently employs or will employ multiple workers.
6. Entering the US to direct and develop your business
As an E2 investor, you are required to seek entry into the United States for the sole purpose of directing and developing the E2 business.
You can satisfy the following requirements
· Showing that as the E2 investor, you own at least 50% of the E2 business.
· If you do not own at least 50% of the E2 business, you can still satisfy the requirement by showing that you have operational control of the business.
· You can show operational control by having a managerial position within the business. Other similar ways may also work.
You cannot be a passive investor and qualify for an E2 visa. If a foreign business entity is an E2 investor, it must show that it is directing and developing the E2 business.
7. Lawful investment funds
The funds that you use to invest in your E2 business must have been obtained lawfully. Examples of lawful sources of funds include earnings from lawful employment, income from the sale of a property, gifts, an inheritance, etc.
You can also use the proceeds from a loan as your investment funds. The loan must be either unsecured or secured by your personal assets. Loans secured by the assets of the E2 business will not qualify.
Either way, you must be able to sufficiently document how the funds were earned.
8. Investments must be irrevocably committed and must be at-risk to the business
To get an E2 visa, you must make an investment that is at risk and your investment funds must be irrevocably committed to the E2 business, meaning that your investment funds must actually be spent on the business and cannot just be sitting in your operating account
If you’re able to walk away from the investment without losing anything, you do not qualify. The applicant must have already spent the money towards the startup, purchase of a U.S. business, or enterprise. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed. The investment must be at risk of being lost due to the business or enterprise being unsuccessful.
· To satisfy the at-risk requirement, your E2 investment funds must be subject to either partial or total loss
· This means that there can be no guarantee that you will get any part of their funds back.
Investment is Irrevocably Committed
· Your investment funds must be already invested in the E2 business at the time of filing or they must be in the process of being invested in the E2 business at the time of filing.
· You must also be close to starting actual business activities.
· This is to ensure that you, as the E2 investor, are committed to the success of the E2 business.
· Your intent to invest, without a present commitment is insufficient. Also, putting the investment funds in a bank account, without an actual commitment, is not enough to qualify for an E2 visa.
· That said, a reasonable amount of funds kept in a business operating account can qualify toward your investment capital.
· To meet the irrevocability standard, you may be able to place the investment funds in an escrow account. The release of the funds can be solely conditional on the approval of your E2 visa or E2 change of status.
The period of visa validity generally ranges from 1 year to 5 years.
The amount of time an E-2 visa granted varies by country and depends on the agreement (the legal term is reciprocity) between the applicant’s country and the United States. Some countries, such as Egypt and Bangladesh, have reciprocity periods of as little as 3 months while other countries allow applicants to get an E-2 visa for up to 5 years.
A visa can be valid for up to 5 years, but that doesn't mean that you can be present in the United States for 5 years. The period of validity of a visa determines the timeframe that you can seek entry into the US at a United States port of entry.
Only your status determines how long you are authorized to stay in the United States. The length of time you are allowed to stay in the US will be written in your Form I-94 which is stapled in your passport.
Period of Stay
With an E2 visa, you are granted 2 years of status each time you enter the US. Upon entry on an E-2 visa, investors are allowed a maximum stay of two years regardless of how long the visa is valid for.
For E2 investors with multiple entry E-2 visas in their passports, they can leave the U.S. and reenter until the expiration date of their visa and each time they reenter, they are given 2 years in E-2 status. If the visa is still valid, they must then leave the U.S. and reenter.
E2 visas are valid for a period of up to five years and can be renewed with two-year extensions as long as you maintain the necessary qualifications. As it stands, there are no limits on the number of extensions you can take.
An applicant’s spouse and children (younger than 21) can apply for derivative E2 visas. The only requirement that will also apply to them specifically and individually is that they need to be citizens of a treaty country.
Usually, the dependents’ E2 visas will be valid for the same period as the investor’s E2 visa. However, if a dependent is not the same nationality as the principal, their visa might be valid for a different period depending on the treaty with their country of citizenship.