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E2 VISAS: A SPECIAL VISA FOR INVESTORS

If your country has the appropriate treaty with the U.S., nationals of that country may enter the U.S. for the purpose of directing and developing the operations of the enterprise (E-2) or for the purpose of conducting trade (E-1).

The following describes the E2 investor visa.

The requirements of the E2 visa are as follows:

Citizenship of a Treaty Country. The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must have the citizenship of a treaty country. At least 50 percent of the business must be owned by persons with the treaty country’s nationality.

Must be a Substantial Investment. The investment must be substantial, with investment funds or assets committed and irrevocable. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.

Must be an Operating Enterprise. The investment must be a bona fide operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

Income. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

Control. 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 are not allowed.

Role in the Company. You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify

The E-2 visa applicant must show that he or she has invested or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.

What is a “substantial” investment for purposes of a E2 visa?

The exact meaning of “substantial amount” is not defined but it is generally thought that amounts less than $150,000 are too small to qualify. However, some of this amount can be in the form of in-kind investment such as intellectual property or other assets.

“Substantial” is generally defined as sufficient to show the investor’s financial commitment to the enterprise and large enough to show a likelihood of success.

The “substantiality” of the investment will depend upon how much is necessary to start a business in the particular field. So, for example, the cost of starting a franchise window dealership is likely to be less than the cost of opening an airline. The amount necessary to invest in order to qualify for the visa will be less if the business requires less to get started.

What does it mean that the investment is “at risk”?

The applicant must place at risk the investment, which means that he or she is subject to a loss of the capital if the investment fails. It must be a for-profit enterprise.

The applicant can be either the owner of the enterprise or one of its workers.

What amount of ownership or control is required to be eligible for an E2 visa?

The owner and national of the treaty country must show that he controls the enterprise by showing ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise. The owner must also have operational control of the entity.

For both the E2 and E1 visas, if the applicant is not the investor or the trader, he must be employed in an executive or supervisory capacity, or possess skills that are highly specialized and essential to the operations of the commercial enterprise.

Is a College Degree Mandatory?

A college degree is helpful but not a requirement. Generally managers or highly professional positions within companies qualify for an E visa.

What can I do on an E-2 visa?

As an E-2 visa holder you can:

• Work legally in the U.S. but only for the company into which the investment was made

• Travel freely to and from the U.S.

• Bring your dependents to the U.S. Your spouse can also work in the U.S.

What are the limitations of an E-2 visa?

• You can work legally only for the company into which the investment was made

• Visas are available only to foreign nationals of countries that have trade treaties with the U.S.

How long can I stay in the U.S. on an E-2 visa?

You may stay in the U.S. with unlimited five year visa extensions or two year status extensions.

How Does One apply for the E2 visa?

If the applicant is outside the U.S., he or she can apply directly at the Consulate. An application with the Immigration Service first is not necessary, as it is with some other visas.

Can I apply for a Change of Status

If the applicant is in the U.S., he or she can apply for a change of status without leaving the U.S.

Can I bring my dependents on an E-2 visa?

Yes, you may bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 years to stay along with you. They may stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your E-2 status. Under certain circumstances you may also bring a domestic or personal servant.

Can my dependents work on an E-2 visa?

Yes, your spouse may work.

Can my dependents study on an E-2 visa?

Yes, your dependents may study at U.S. schools, colleges and universities on E visa. There is no need to apply for separate student visa such as an F-1 visa.

WARNING: The above is a summary discussing legal issues. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you get competent legal advice specific to your case.


More Information:

  • E-2 Treaty Investors (USCIS)
  • E-2 Visa Document Checklist (Kerosky, Purves & Bogue LLP)