E-2 Treaty Investor Visa – The U.S. Investor Visa
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is one of the few ways that foreign entrepreneurs can start their own business in the U.S. These nonimmigrant visas are reserved for foreign entrepreneurs from countries that maintain a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S., which allows them to develop and carry out investment and trade activities. This visa category, known as the U.S. Investor Visa, is truly designed for a small business owner and is intended to allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. to purchase an existing or a new business, or engage in a joint business venture. It’s a relatively uncomplicated process as compared to other visas like the H-1B, but qualification can be challenging.
E-2 Visa Requirements
In order to qualify, an investor must meet several E-2 visa requirements before considering the application process. The treaty investor must:
- Be a national—either person, partnership, or corporate entity—of a country with which the U.S. maintains a Treaty of Trade and Commerce
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S.
- Ensure the investment funds or assets are committed, irrevocable, and sufficient enough to guarantee the successful operation of the enterprise
- Be seeking to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise
- Be the principal investor or considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity (ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify)
- Show that the funds were not obtained through criminal activity
- Ensure the enterprise generates significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and their family or it must have a significant impact on the U.S.
- Prove that the capital is subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails
How Much Money Do You Need to Invest for an E-2 Investor Visa?
The E-2 investor visa investment amount may vary from one Consular Post to another. Our office had some Consulates approve E-2 visas with an investment size as small as $75,000. The size of the investment must be appropriate for the business type and the projected growth of the business.
E-2 Treaty Countries
E-2 Investor Visas are only available to foreign nationals from countries with which the U.S. maintains a Treaty of Trade and Commerce. These prospective investors do not need to be current residents of an E-2 treaty country, they just need to be citizens there. A complete list of qualifying E-2 treaty countries can be accessed through the State Department.
The advantages of having a US Investor Visa
There are many advantages that US investor visa holders enjoy including:
- Ability to travel freely in or out of the U.S.
- Visa is limitless in duration
- Work legally in the U.S. with the company
- Extension of stay
- Essential employee may accompany the investor
- Family may accompany the E-2 investor (spouses and children under the age of 21)
- Dependents may attend U.S. schools without applying for an F-1 visa
- Dependents may work in the U.S. with EADs (employment authorization documents)
The disadvantages of a US Investor Visa
Here are a few reasons why the US investor visa may not be right for all cases:
- It is only available to nationals of treaty maintaining countries
- The investor must only work for the E-2 business
- Visas are only approved in increments of 2 years
- It is a nonimmigrant intent visa
E-2 Visa Application Process
The E-2 application process has several steps from the initial filing to Consular in-person interview, and a subsequent approval. The order of steps can vary depending on location, from one Consular Post to another.
How Long Does it Take to Get an E-2 Investor Visa?
Once the E-2 petition packet has been filed with the appropriate Consular Post, the review and visa processing time can take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks. Some E-2 investor visa applications may take longer, if there is a request for additional evidence — an E-2 visa lawyer can provide a better estimate of processing times based on the specific Consular post.
Bringing Employees and Family
E-2 Treaty Investors are permitted to bring family (spouses and children under 21) and qualified essential employees into the U.S. with them. The nationalities of their employees and family members do not need to be from a treaty country. Spouses of E-2 investors and workers may file an I-765 form to be granted the ability to work in the U.S. If approved, there is no restriction on where an E-2 spouse can work.
How Long is the E-2 Visa Valid For?
Qualified E-2 investors are allowed a maximum initial stay of 2 years with the opportunity to apply for extensions. Extensions are granted in increments of up to 2 years and there is no limit for how many extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant can receive. When their E-2 visa expires or is terminated without extension, the nonimmigrant must leave the U.S. immediately. The process to extend an E-2 visa can be complicated, so some E-2 investors may seek employment or investment-based green cards for a longer stay.
Going from an E-2 Visa to a Green Card
In order to file for permanent residence and secure a green card, an E-2 nonimmigrant must file an I-485 to become an immigrant—this can take up to 18 months and may be costly. An E-2 Treaty Investors can consider the following immigrant-based avenues:
- EB-5 for foreign investors
- EB-1 for extraordinary aliens
- EB-2 for those with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field
Protect Your Investment
An E-2 visa attorney can help you realize your dreams of building a business enterprise in the U.S. by protecting your entrepreneurial investment and advising you on inbound U.S. immigration laws. Schedule a consultation with The Batrakova Law Office today!