- What is an E2 Visa?
- What are the E2 Visa Requirements for Treaty Investors?
- What are the Requirements for Employees?
- How to Apply for E2 Visa
- Definition of Executive/Managerial Duties and Special Qualifications
- Understanding Substantial Amount of Capital
- What is an Investment?
- What is a Bona Fide Enterprise?
- What is the Difference Between E1 and E2 Visa?
- What is the Processing Time for an E2 Visa Application?
- How Long Is the Treaty Investor Visa Valid?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is an E2 Visa?
The E2 Visa is a non-immigrant classification designed for foreign investors from any of the countries with which the United States maintains a qualifying international trade agreement or treaty of commerce.
To be eligible for the visa, you must demonstrate the ability and readiness to invest a substantial amount of capital in a US business. The E2 visa allows you to work or run a business within your approved enterprise.
You may also bring your employees along if you will need their services for the business operation. In addition, if you have dependent family members (children and spouse), they may also come with you.
Have you been thinking of establishing or buying a business in the United States? The E2 visa could be your best route to an ideal business environment and long-term stay in the United States.
What are the E2 Visa Requirements for Treaty Investors?
To qualify for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, you meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of a country that maintains treaty commerce and navigation with the United States.
- You must have a minimum of 50% stake in the business.
- You must have invested, or actively started the process of investing, a substantial amount of money in a bona fide US business.
- You must be seeking to enter the US solely to develop and run the business. You can prove this by demonstrating at least 50% ownership of the business or having a managerial leadership role to demonstrate your “operational control” of the business.
What are the Requirements for Employees?
To qualify for an E2 visa as an employee of a treaty investor, you must:
- Have the same nationality as the treaty investor
- Be engaging in executive or supervisory roles. If you are employed in a lesser position, you must have special qualifications.
- Meet the definition of “employee” under the relevant law.
How to Apply for E2 Visa
- Step 1:The first step in the E2 visa application is to complete Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application.
- Step 2: Pay the visa application fee
- Step 3: Schedule your visa appointment. It is advisable to book your appointment with a US embassy or consulate in your country of permanent residence. Though you can have your visa appointment in any embassy or consulate of your choice, securing a visa outside your country of residence is more difficult. To schedule a visa appointment, you will need the following items:
– Your passport number
– The ten-digit barcode number from your Form DS-160 confirmation page
- Step 4: Attend your visa interview at the US embassy or consulate. You must bring these items to the interview: a printed copy of your DS-160 confirmation page, appointment letter, one photograph taken within the last 6 months and your current and all old passports.
NOTE: The exact application procedures may vary from one US embassy/consulate to another. Some embassies/consulates may request more items and have varying application guidelines. It is important to read the instructions on the website of the embassy or consulate you are applying from.
Definition of Executive/Managerial Duties and Special Qualifications
Employees of E-2 investors must show that they are entering the United States to assume managerial or executive roles in the business or have special qualifications which make their services essential to the business operations.
Duties considered as executive or supervisory roles are those which primarily give the employee the ultimate responsibility and control for the total operation of the enterprise or a major component of it. In some cases, the owner of the treaty investment may not really spend much time in the United States. So, the employees must demonstrate a top-level executive or managerial pedigree to convince the immigration officer of their qualification for the visa.
Well-detailed resume, job description, and supporting letter from employer the employer are some of the crucial documents to prove eligibility as an E-2 employee.
Special qualifications are skills or aptitudes which make an employee’s services essential to the effective operation of the treaty enterprise. Circumstances or qualities that may be considered when determining qualification for this requirement include:
- The degree of proven expertise in one’s area of operations
- The salary and/or remunerations that the special qualifications can command
- Whether others have those specific skills
- Whether the qualifications and skills are readily available in the US.
Understanding Substantial Amount of Capital
There is no specific minimum or maximum amount of capital E-2 visa applicants must have. They are only required to invest a “substantial amount of capital”. This may vary from one applicant to another, depending on the type of enterprise you are investing in.
That said, there are certain factors consular officers will consider determining if an investment amount is “substantial” for the intended enterprise. The capital must meet the following requirements:
- It must be substantial in relation to the total amount required to either purchase an existing business or establish a new one.
- Must be sufficient to ensure that the treaty investor is irrevocable committed to the success of the enterprise.
- Enough to support the likelihood that the investor will be able to develop and run the business successfully. There must be a correlation between the investment amount and the cost of the intended enterprise. This means the higher the total cost of the business, the more capital must be invested to be considered substantial.
What is an Investment?
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), investment is the treaty investor’s “placing of capital at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit.” This means the capital must have been subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. You must show some level of commitment with your capital before the visa can be granted. It is not enough to just put the funds into a US bank account and present a bank statement.
In addition, the investment must not be marginal. This means it must have the capacity to generate adequate income enough to meet your financial needs and eventually your family within five years of entering the United States.
The enterprise needs to create employment for US workers over a period of time. This is another way of showing that your enterprise is not marginal.
The business must have some dedicated physical premises, as businesses run from home may not be eligible for the E-2 Visa.
On the bright side, however, there are virtually no restrictions on the type of business you can operate on an E-2 Visa. Also, there is no particular number of jobs E2 business must create over time, unlike the EB-5, which requires a minimum of 10 full-time jobs for American workers.
You must also show that the funds weren’t generated from criminal activity.
What is a Bona Fide Enterprise?
A bona fide enterprise means an active, real, and operating entrepreneurial or commercial business that produces goods or services for profit. It must meet all the legal requirements for operating business within its jurisdiction.
Supporting Documents for E-2 Visa Application
Apart from your application forms, you will need other supporting documents to prove that you meet the E2 Visa requirements. Some of the generally required documents are:+
- Your resume containing details of your business experience
- Proof of the origin of your funds (to show you didn’t get it from criminal activities).
- A recent tax return
- A comprehensive business plan
- Organizational charts and job descriptions
- Any documents that could help demonstrate that the investment is substantial and has been irrevocably committed. The ideal evidence varies greatly from one applicant to another. However, the following items are good examples of that:
– Corresponding business and/or personal bank statements
– Cancelled checks or money orders
– Financial accounting documentation
– Bill of Sale
– Lease agreement
– Itemized list of goods and materials bought for the startup
– Capitalization table
– Escrow documents
– Valuation analysis of business assets
– Valuation analysis of stock
– Loan and mortgage agreements
– Term sheet, Memorandum of Understanding, or Letter of Intent
– Stock purchased agreement
What is the Difference Between E1 and E2 Visa?
E1 and E2 visas are both designed for foreign nationals whose countries have a treaty of commerce or navigation with the United States. Though they are both treaty visas, they are different in terms of definitions and requirements.
The E-1 visa is for individuals who wish to engage in substantial trade between the United States and a treaty country. Substantial trade means the continuous flow of sizable international trade items that involves numerous transactions over time.
The E2, on the other hand, is for individuals who have access to “committed and irrevocable” investment funds. The amount must be sufficient to cover the cost of setting up or purchasing the business and other related costs and risks.
Furthermore, E2 visa holders are required to demonstrate the ability to generate a higher return over time. On the other hand, E1 traders can carry on their business engagements without necessarily developing their company’s revenue.
If you are more interested in import/export-related activities, you can check your eligibility for an E1 Treaty Trader Visa.
Another related option is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Green Card. You may qualify for this if you have a minimum of $900,000 investment amount. It is an immigrant visa that offers permanent residence in the US and a faster route to citizenship. But compared to the E2 classification, the EB-5 visa can be more stringent and expensive. But it is worth the process and requirements for those who can afford it.
What is The Processing Time for an E2 Visa Application?
The average processing time for an E-2 visa is 2-4 weeks. In addition, if you are also applying for your employees, this may take another two weeks.
You can also fast-track the process by applying for premium processing which guarantees a speedier service. You will receive a decision within 15 calendar days.
To use the premium processing service, you will need to submit Form I-907 and pay an additional fee of $1,440.
How Long Is the Treaty Investor Visa Valid?
If your E-2 visa application is approved, you will generally be allowed an initial stay of two years. However, this may be applicable to all applicants, depending on their country and the nature of their enterprise.
You can submit a request for an extension of stay before the expiration of your visa. There is no limit as to the number of times you can extend your stay, as long as you keep meeting the eligibility requirements to continue staying in the US.
Both E-2 investors and their employers enjoy the same period of stay and extension.
If you wish to travel abroad on an E-2 visa, you may be granted automatic two-year readmission into the US. Within this timeframe, you can reenter the United States without filing a new visa application.
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Indefinite Leave to Remain
Spouse Visa Extension
You can renew your E2 visa by filing for an extension of stay. E2 visa extensions are generally granted in increments of 2 years.
It is best to apply for an extension before the expiration of your I-94 form. If you file for an extension before the expiration of I-94, you can still stay for up to 240 days, pending a decision on your application. On the other hand, if your I-94 has expired before filing for an extension, you can only stay for just 40 days pending the decision.
To file for an E2 visa extension, you must submit the following with USCIS:
- Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker
- Copy of your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Document
- Form I-539, Application for Extending or Changing of Non-immigrant Status
- Copy of your passport
- Employer letter detailing why the extension is necessary.
- Copies of business and personal tax returns
Spouses of E-2 visa holders may work in the US. They will need to apply for a work permit by filing Form I-765 with a fee. If their work permit application is approved, there is no specific restriction as to where they may work in the US. Likewise, your children can also study to any level in US schools.