The E-2 investor visa is for foreign investors who plan to invest a substantial amount of capital, such as $120,000, in opening a new business or buying/sharing an existing business in the U.S. The foreign investors must be nationals of a treaty country, which is a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
To qualify for the E-2, the treaty investor must demonstrate that they are from a treaty country, have invested or are investing in a bona fide business in the U.S, and that they are seeking entry to the U.S. only for the purpose of developing and taking care of this business. They can do this by showing that they own at least fifty percent of the company.
Type of Investment
The investment can be any legal business for profit, such as opening a diner, grocery store, gas station, car dealership, etc. The investor must demonstrate to immigration that the investment will sustain a living for themselves and their immediate family. In other words, the business must generate enough money starting from the minute the investor enters the U.S. This can be proven by presenting a competent, rational, and feasible business plan projecting the future financial goals of the investment.
It is usually easier if the investor is investing in a previously existing business that is already showing positive income and employees on the payroll. When opening an entirely new business, it becomes somewhat of a challenge because it is slightly more difficult to prove the financial future projections. Furthermore, the investor should demonstrate that they have already financially committed themselves to the business plan by wiring money into the U.S. business account or by opening an escrow account.
This visa permits an initial stay of a maximum of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in two-year increments, for an indefinite period of time. While there is no maximum limit to granting extensions, the investor must always intend to eventually depart the U.S. when their authorized stay is terminated.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 may accompany the treaty investor and are also permitted to request extensions of their stay in two-year increments.
The E-1 visa, also known as the treaty trader visa, applies to investors who are planning to establish an international business, mainly between the U.S. and the foreign country, which must also have a treaty agreement with the U.S. The rules are similar to the E-2, with the exception that it must prove the viability of the business internationally.
If I apply for an E2 visa, are my spouse and children covered by my application? Yes.
Can my spouse work in the U.S.? Yes.
Can my children work in the U.S.? No, not under the E2.
How long am I allowed to stay in the United States with my E-2 visa? An E-2 visa is not an immigrant visa – so it will not grant you the right to permanently remain in the U.S. Also, an E2 visa does not guarantee admission into the U.S.; it allows you to travel to the U.S. and then apply as a treaty investor. An inspector from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the decision whether or not you can be admitted into the U.S.
How long does an E-2 petition take to process? Regular processing takes approximately 15 weeks. USCIS offers expedited 15-day Premium Processing for an additional fee of $1,225.
What kind of businesses qualify? A vast variety of businesses qualify. What is important is that the business makes more than sufficient income to support you and your family and that it creates employment.
Do franchises qualify for E-2 visas? Yes, and there are the same requirements for a franchised business as any other type of business, whether it is a new franchise or an already existing franchise.
What happens if I later sell my business? If you sell the business without first purchasing another business that qualifies, you are no longer eligible for the E-2 status. If that happens then you either have to leave the US, or you can apply to change your status.