E-2 Investor Visa Introduction
The E-2 investor visa is for foreign investors who plan to invest a substantial amount of capital (e.g. $120,000) in opening a new business or buying/sharing an existing business in the U.S. These foreign investors must be a national of a treaty country, which is a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
Key Requirements for the E-2 visa include:
- The investor must be from a treaty country
- The investor has invested or is investing in a bona fide business in the U.S.
- The investor seeks entry to the U.S. only to develop and manage the business, demonstrated by owning at least 50% of the company
The investment can be in any legal, for-profit business. The investor must demonstrate that the investment will sustain a living for themselves and their immediate family, typically by presenting a competent, rational, and feasible business plan.
It is usually easier if the investor is investing in an existing business that is already showing positive income and employees on the payroll. When opening an entirely new business, it is slightly more difficult to prove the financial future projections. The investor should demonstrate that they have already financially committed to the business plan by wiring money into the U.S. business account or by opening an escrow account.
Visa Duration: This visa permits an initial stay of a maximum of 2 years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in 2-year increments for an indefinite period of time. However, the investor must always intend to eventually depart the U.S. when their authorized stay is terminated.
Family Members: 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. Spouses can work in the U.S., but children cannot work under the E-2 visa.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa: 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 with a treaty agreement. The rules are similar to the E-2, with the exception that it must prove the viability of the business internationally.
- E-2 visas cover the investor’s spouse and children.
- The investor’s spouse can work in the U.S., but children cannot.
- E-2 visa holders are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 2 years initially and can apply for extensions.
- Regular E-2 petition processing takes approximately 15 weeks, but expedited 15-day Premium Processing is available for an additional fee.
- A wide variety of businesses can qualify for an E-2 visa.
- Franchises qualify for E-2 visas.
- If an investor sells their business without first purchasing another qualifying business, they are no longer eligible for E-2 status and must leave the U.S. or apply to change their status.
E-1 and E-2 Treaty Visas
E-1 and E-2 visas are available for certain countries that have a treaty agreement with the U.S.
E-2 Investor Visa: As previously mentioned, the E-2 investor visa is for foreign investors who plan to invest a substantial amount (e.g., $120,000) in opening a new business or buying/sharing an existing business. The visa petition is usually adjudicated or reviewed by the consulate where the foreign investor resides. If the investor is already in the U.S., they can apply for a change of status from inside the country.
Requirements for the E-2 visa include:
- The investor must be from a treaty country.
- The investor must own at least 50% of the U.S. business.
- The investor must prove their ability to run the business by having enough education, experience, or both.
To check the list of countries eligible for the E-2 visa, visit: http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3726.html
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa: 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 that has a treaty agreement with the U.S. The rules are similar to the E-2, except that the E-1 visa requires proving the viability of the business internationally.
In summary, E-1 and E-2 visas are useful tools for foreign investors and traders from treaty countries who want to establish or expand their businesses in the U.S. The E-2 visa focuses on substantial investments in new or existing businesses, while the E-1 visa targets international trade. Both visas allow for initial stays of up to 2 years, with the possibility of extensions in 2-year increments. Spouses and children under 21 can accompany the investor and may also apply for extensions of their stay.