usa investor visaIf you’re an aspiring investor looking to establish a new business or operate an existing business in the United States, the E2 Visa might be the perfect opportunity for you to pursue your American dream.

Also known as the Treaty Investor Visa, the E2 allows foreign nationals from certain countries to enter and work in the United States provided that they make an investment considered in a U.S. business. 

The E-2 is one of the United States’ non immigrant visas, which were
introduced to boost foreign investment and facilitate the movement of individuals contributing to the American economy.

It’s currently available to citizens of countries that have treaties of commerce and navigation or bilateral investment treaties with the United States.

Navigating the E2 Visa can be complex, but worry not, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this visa, including eligibility requirements, how to apply, the costs, the timeline, and more.

Here’s what you’ll discover in this article:

  • What is the E2 Visa USA
  • E2 Visa requirements
  • How to apply
  • Fees and cost
  • Timeline, and more!

What is the E2 Visa?

Also known as the Treaty Investor Visa, the E-2 visa enables foreign nationals from eligible treaty countries to enter and work in the United States based on a substantial investment in a U.S. business. This visa is specifically designed to facilitate foreign investment and promote economic development in the United States.

The E2 is a non-immigrant visa category, so it doesn’t provide a Green Card, but it allows individuals from treaty countries to enter the United States solely for the purpose of investing a substantial amount of capital in a genuine enterprise. The investment has to be considered substantial, meaning it should be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the business. The exact amount considered substantial can vary depending on factors such as the nature of the business and its location.

One of the key advantages of the E-2 visa is its flexibility. It allows investors to invest in a wide range of businesses, including startups, franchises, and existing businesses.

Difference between Treaty Investor and Treaty Investor Employee

Before we delve into the benefits and requirements of the visa, it’s essential to understand the distinction between a Treaty Investor and a Treaty Investor Employee. A Treaty Investor is an individual who is the primary investor and holds the citizenship of an eligible treaty country.

Meanwhile, a Treaty Investor Employee is a person who also holds the citizenship of a treaty country but is coming to the US to work for a qualified operating commercial E2 enterprise in an executive, supervisory, or essential capacity.

In this article, we will focus exclusively on the Treaty Investor path, providing details about the E2 Visa requirements, benefits, and other pertinent information about an E2 Visa application.

Benefits of Being an E2 Treaty Investor

  • You can legally live in the US, work and operate your own business
  • Your immediate family is included in the visa – spouse and children under 21 years old, unmarried. Your children can also study in the US.
  • You can travel to and from the US, without restrictions
  • You can renew your two-year E2 Visa indefinitely, as long as your business remains viable and the requirements for visa renewal are sustained
  • There is no set amount required for the investment, as long as the investment is considered to be a substantial amount

Family eligibility

Your family can also benefit from this investor visa. Your spouse can apply for an employment authorization document (sometimes referred to as a work permit) from the US Department of Homeland Security. This employment authorization document allows them to legally work in the US.

Meanwhile, when you receive your E2 Visa, your children can attend school without needing a separate student visa.

What are the E2 Visa requirements?

To qualify for an E2 Treaty Investor Visa, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

1. Be a national of a treaty country

There is a nationality requirement for the E2 Visa: You must be a citizen of a country that maintains a valid treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. The E2 treaty countries are:

Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (Republic of China), Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

The list of eligible countries can change over time. For example, New Zealand signed a qualifying treaty with the US in 2018, enabling its citizens to become eligible for the visa from 2019.

From 2023, if you have acquired citizenship of one of these countries via citizenship by investment program, you will also need to prove that you are a resident of the country for at least three years in order to be eligible for the E2 Treaty Investor Visa.

If you hold dual nationality in two treaty countries, you may be able to choose which passport you apply with. In this instance, it is worth comparing the processing times for the two countries.

2. Make a substantial investment

e2 usa visa ultimate guide

You must invest a significant amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the US. There’s no specific investment threshold, but the amount you invest must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the business invested in.

Whether your investment qualifies will be determined by a “proportionality test,” which calculates if your investment is substantial compared to your business cost. The lower the cost of starting the business, the more you must invest. For example, if you were to start a $50,000 business, you would likely need to invest 100 percent of the funds to prove your commitment. Conversely, if you were to start a $1 million business, you would likely need to invest a lower percentage of the funds.

You can either invest as an individual investor or your foreign business can make an investment in a US business.

The investment must have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for you and for your family (if applicable).

The rule of thumb is to invest at least $100,000, although this isn’t an official guideline, and some treaty investors have been able to invest less ($50,000 and even lower in some cases) and be granted the visa.

A “bona fide enterprise” refers to a real and active business that makes goods or provides services for profit. It should also meet all the applicable legal requirements to operate in its area.

3. The investment must meet the following criteria

  • The investment must be classified as a real operating commercial enterprise. Passive investments, including an investment in a “paper organization” (a company that only exists on paper and does not have any actual business operations or entrepreneurial activity) or an investment in the stock market or in private real estate, would not qualify.
  • The funds invested must be at risk and committed to the enterprise, meaning that you must have a personal financial stake in the success of the business. This can include committed funds in an escrow account. The business funds must be subject to partial or total loss if business fortunes reverse.
  • The investment cannot be marginal or an idle speculative investment. This means the enterprise should be established for more than just the purpose of supporting you and your family.
  • The investment capital must be lawfully acquired. In other words, the source of your investment funds must be lawful; you cannot use money obtained through illegal means. A lawful source of funds could include earnings from lawful employment, gifts, inheritance, and income generated from the sale of a property. You must sufficiently document how you earned the funds.
  • The business you have invested in should have profitability, being able to generate more than enough income to provide a living for you and your family (if applicable), as well as to make a significant economic impact in the US.
  • As the principal investor, you must be actively involved in the development and direction of the enterprise. You should have “negative control” of the business, demonstrating that you are entering the US to direct and develop your E2 business. Examples of negative control include physical presence at the premises, making decisions at the managerial level, and making financial commitments.
  • You must own at least 50 percent of the enterprise or have operational control through a managerial position.

4. Intent to leave

Another of the E2 Visa requirements is that you must prove to the embassy that your intent in entering the US is just to work and live temporarily. An E2 Visa is a non-immigrant visa; you are not eligible for permanent residency.

You must provide a written statement to the US Embassy that you will leave the country once your E2 status expires. The written statement is sufficient, although sometimes the embassy might request additional proof of ties abroad. Ties are the proof that binds you to your country of residence, such as your foreign residence, your job, or your family.

E2 Visa Employee Requirements

As a principal investor, you can apply for an E2 for qualifying employees, who are usually of the same nationality as yours (same treaty country). The registration might take a few months, depending on the jurisdiction. The E2 employee visa can be obtained within two weeks.

The E2 Visa can be extended to other personnel if they meet the following conditions:

Supervisors, executives, and managers:

  • They must hold a managerial role and handle an entire business or a key part of the business.

Skilled workers or specialists:

  • The employee must have highly specialized skill capacity in some area related to the business that is difficult to find in the US.
  • The individual is an essential employee, who is necessary to run a principal trader or investor’s business in the US.

E2 Visa Application Process

  1. Determine eligibility: Ensure that you are a citizen of a treaty country, meaning a country that maintains a valid treaty of commerce and navigation with the US.
  2. Plan your investment: Decide on the business you want to invest in, whether it’s purchasing an existing business or establishing a start-up. Calculate the amount of money you need to invest (including the purchase price if you’re buying a business) and develop a solid business proposal that outlines your investment, the nature of the business, and its potential to be profitable.
  3. Establish the enterprise: Make the investment.
  4. Submit the application: Prepare all the necessary documentation for your application, and complete the online DS-160 form (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application), if you are applying from outside the US. If you are applying from within the country, you need to file Form I-129 to request to adjust status to E2 classification. If you are an employee, your eligible employer must file Form I-129 on your behalf. Visa applicants or employers must send the forms and documents to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  5. Schedule and attend your visa interview: You must attend a visa interview at a US embassy or consulate. At your visa interview, you should be prepared to answer questions from the visa officer about your investment, the nature of your business, and your intentions while in the US.
  6. Provide biometric information: You, as the principal applicant for the investor visa, and your family will need to provide biometric information, such as fingerprints and photographs, during the visa application process.
  7. Receive the visa: If successful, you will receive a positive decision on your application, and the visa, allowing you to enter the US. This investor visa allows you to work only for the business you invested in, and your family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) can accompany you to the US.
  8. Maintain E2 status: Now you have to maintain your treaty investor status by actively managing and operating the business. You can renew the visa (usually every two years), for as long as you continue to meet the visa requirements.

Document Checklist

usa visa guide checklistWhen applying for the visa, you will need to submit a comprehensive set of documents to support your application. Here is a detailed list of the required documents. Please note that additional documents may be required, depending on your specific circumstances:

  • DS-160 confirmation page: A completed and printed DS-160 (Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application) confirmation page, which is the online non-immigrant visa application form.
  • Passport: Your passport with a minimum of six months validity beyond your intended period of stay in the US.
  • Photograph: One passport-sized color photograph that meets the US visa photo requirements.
  • Comprehensive Business plan: A detailed business plan (or business proposal) outlining your investment, including details such as the company name, the nature of the operating commercial enterprise, and its potential for profitability and likelihood of being a successful enterprise.
  • Proof of investment funds: Documents demonstrating that the funds underpinning the investment are legitimate and legally acquired (such as bank statements and promissory notes)
  • Proof of bona fide enterprise: Documentation (such as business licenses) proving that the business you plan to invest in is a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking.
  • Articles of Incorporation/Registration: If the business is already established, provide the articles of incorporation or registration.
  • Lease agreement or property ownership: If you have already secured a location for your business, include the lease agreement or documents showing property ownership.
  • Financial statements: If applicable, provide the enterprise’s financial statements for the past two to three years, including balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements.
  • Market research and projections: Any market research or projections that support the potential success of your business.
  • CV/Resume: Your curriculum vitae or resume, highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications.
  • Employment details: Information about any employees you plan to hire in the US, along with their roles and responsibilities.
  • Proof of managerial role: If you will be managing the enterprise, provide evidence of your managerial role.
  • Proof of treaty country citizenship: Documents showing your citizenship in a treaty country eligible for the visa.
  • Payment receipt: A receipt confirming payment of the visa application fee.
  • Corporate documents (if applicable): If the enterprise has multiple owners or shareholders, provide corporate documents showing ownership percentages.
  • Additional supporting documents: Any additional documents that can strengthen your case, such as contracts, licenses, or permits.

E2 Visa Timeline

The E2 Visa processing time can vary based on your home country and the time taken for USCIS or the US consulate to review your application. Generally, it can take anywhere from about two weeks to a few months to obtain the visa.

Exclusively available for E2 Visa change of status applications filed within the United States, premium processing provides a streamlined option for those seeking a quicker response on their applications.

For an additional fee of $2,500, premium processing ensures USCIS expedites the decision-making process, aiming to provide a verdict within 15 business days. This service is not available for initial E2 Visa applications or for applications filed outside of the United States.

As the immigration process for an E2 investor visa is complex, it is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance and assistance. The Foreign Affairs Manual is also a valuable resource, as it includes the detailed regulations for applying.

Consular Processing or Change of Status

You can apply for the visa either through consular processing at a US embassy or consulate in your home country or if you change status to E2 if you are already in the US on a different visa.

E2 Visa Duration

An E2 Visa can be valid from three months to five years, depending on the country from which you are a citizen. However, regardless of how long the visa is valid for, you will be allowed an initial stay of up to two years in the US. This stay can be renewed as many times as necessary, provided that you continue to satisfy the visa’s requirements.

E2 Visa extension

To extend your visa, you must demonstrate that your business is still active and viable. You can renew the visa every two years, and there is no limit to the number of times the visa can be renewed.

E2 Visa Cost

The costs for the E-2 visa depend on various factors, including where you are applying from, and whether premium processing is requested.

The main cost is the investment itself. Even though there is no set minimum amount, we can consider $85,000 to $100,000 as a starting point.

Other costs involve fees for applications and forms, biometric appointments, translation of documents, legal assistance, and so on.

There is a $780 fee to file Form I-129 (Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker) with USCIS. If premium processing is requested, there is an additional fee of $2805.

Pros and Cons of the E2 Visa

Like any visa category, the E2 Visa comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • Quick processing time: This visa is generally processed faster than other US visas, making it a quicker option for those looking to start a business in the US.
  • No fixed minimum investment amount: Unlike certain investment-based visas like the EB5 Visa, the E2 Visa does not have a fixed amount that’s required. The investment should be a substantial amount in relation to the total cost of the enterprise, but this flexibility can be beneficial for some investors.
  • Flexibility in business types: This visa allows you to invest in a wide range of businesses, from established enterprises to startups, as long as they meet the qualifying criteria.
  • Family inclusion: Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can accompany you to the US on an E2 dependent visa.


  • Non-immigrant status: It is a non-immigrant visa, which means it does not lead directly to permanent residence (Green Card). If your goal is to obtain a Green Card, other visa categories such as the EB-5 Visa may be more suitable.
  • Investment and active involvement required: To maintain visa status, you must maintain a substantial investment in an actively operating business and be actively involved in its management. This level of commitment may not be feasible for everyone.
  • Limited to treaty countries: The visa is available only to citizens of countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. Not all countries are eligible for this visa, limiting its accessibility to certain nationalities.
  • No direct path to citizenship: While this visa allows for indefinite renewals, it does not offer a direct pathway to US citizenship. If your ultimate goal is to become a US citizen, you may need to explore other visa options that lead to permanent residency (a Green Card) and citizenship.

Risk factors

Applying for an E2 Visa comes with risks, including the potential loss of investment if the business venture fails. The success of the visa application relies on the viability of the business proposal and eligibility requirements. Visa denial and limitations based on treaty country nationality are also possible risks. To minimize risks, thorough research, professional guidance, and a well-prepared application are essential.

E-2 versus the EB-5 Visa

The US’s other investment visa program is the EB5. The key difference is that the EB5 is designed to allow the main applicant to secure a permanent Green Card, with citizenship possible after a set number of years.

Moreover, unlike the EB5, there is no set minimum amount of capital that you need to invest to be eligible for the E2 Visa.

For more information, check out our EB-5 Visa US 2024: The Ultimate Guide by Experts.

Do E2 Visa holders pay taxes?

You will need to pay taxes on all qualifying income. How much tax you pay on such income you pay depends on your tax status. Depending on whether you’re a resident alien or a non-resident alien (for tax purposes), the tax treatment will differ. It’s recommended to take the Substantial Presence Test to determine your status.

If in doubt, speak to a tax specialist to help determine your tax situation in the country.

E2 Visa and Path to Citizenship

usa visa guideAs an E2 Visa holder, you cannot apply for naturalization to become a US citizen. If that’s your plan, you must first obtain lawful permanent resident status (Green Card) through a different immigration pathway.

There are several ways to obtain a Green Card, such as employment-based sponsorship, family-based sponsorship, diversity visa lottery, or refugee/asylum status.

Once you have obtained a Green Card and meet the residency requirements (usually five years, or three years if married to a US citizen), you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship through the naturalization process.

During naturalization, you’d need to meet specific eligibility criteria, including good moral character, language proficiency, and knowledge of US civics.

Frequently Asked Questions About the E2 Visa

What is an E2 US Visa?

The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa category designed for investors and entrepreneurs. The E2 visa allows foreign nationals from treaty countries to live and work in the United States based on making an investment in a U.S. business.

The E2 Visa can be obtained by either investing in an existing business or creating a new business in the United States.

Who is eligible for the E2 Visa?

To apply for the E2 Visa, you must be a citizen of a foreign country that has a valid treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States (a treaty country).

To meet the E2 Visa requirements, the investment has to be substantial relative to the cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating a new one.

The applicant also needs to intend to depart the US when his/her E2 status (sometimes known as “E status”) ends.

Immediate family members can also be included in treaty investor visas.

What happens if the business venture fails?

If your US business is no longer operating, and you fail to meet the visa requirements, you may lose your E2 Visa status as a treaty investor.

How much do I need to invest for an E-2 Visa?

No set dollar figure constitutes a fixed minimum investment for E-2 treaty investor visas, but it must be substantial relative to the cost of the enterprise.


Can I apply for the E2 Visa if I'm already in the US on another visa?

Yes, if you are in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, you can apply for a change of status to E2 if you’re eligible and meet the requirements.

You will have to fill out Form I-129 and send it to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting treaty investor status.

You’ll need to send documentation confirming citizenship of a treaty country, and also about your investment enterprise, proving that it makes commercial sense and will contribute to the US economy (and is not a marginal enterprise).

The United States Department of State will then determine whether you can receive your nonimmigrant treaty investor status.

Can money gifted by a family member be used for the E2 investment?

Yes, an investor can use gifted funds, from his or her family or from other sources, can be used for an E2 Visa business investment, but you must be able to demonstrate the legitimacy of the gift.

How long does it take to get the E2 Visa after the application is approved?

The time it takes to receive the E2 Visa may vary based on individual circumstances and processing times.

Can I work in the US while my E2 Visa application is being processed?

No, you cannot work in the US until your E2 Visa is approved, and you have obtained work authorization.

Can I travel in and out of the US on an E2 investor visa?

Yes, you can travel in and out of the US as long as your E2 Visa is valid.

What is the success rate of E2 applications?

In 2021, the success rate for E2 Visa applications was 92 percent, with 33,129 visas issued by the United States Department of State among 35,812 applications.


Can I apply for the visa if I have previously been denied a US visa?

Yes, a previous US visa denial does not automatically disqualify you from applying for an E2 Visa.

Can I live anywhere in the US with an E2 Visa?

Yes, US immigration law enables you to live anywhere in the US while holding an E2 investor visa, as there are no restrictions on the location of your US business.

Are treaty investors allowed to bring their employees to the US?

Nonimmigrant treaty investors may apply for e-visas for employees who work in a supervisory or specialized knowledge capacity and ensure the efficient operation of the business.

An E2 employee may also work for the treaty organization’s parent company or one of its subsidiaries.

What is the expiration date of an E2 investor visa?

An E2 investor visa is initially valid for two years, but extensions can be granted indefinitely for two-year increments.

The expiration date is not the same as the departure date; E2 investor visa holders can stay until their extension application is decided.

Can I use an E2 Visa in an expired passport?

A valid visa remains valid even if the passport it’s contained in has expired. However, to use the valid visa for travel, you must also present a valid passport from the same country that issued the E2 Visa.

The immigration officer will examine both passports and validate your investor visa during the entry process.

Do uncommitted funds in a bank account meet the E2 Visa requirements for investment?

No, uncommitted funds in a bank account wouldn’t be considered an investment for an E2 Visa. The visa requires funds to be irrevocably committed to a real business, so potential funds in a bank account would not qualify.

Examples of irrevocably committed funds could include start up costs such as a valid lease for an office space, equipment purchases (which you should demonstrate are for business purposes, not for personal purposes), and payroll contributions.

How can I demonstrate that my business has the present or future capacity to generate sufficient income?

To demonstrate that your business will generate more than enough income for you and your family members, you should highlight strong financials, market demand, and growth projections fueled by E2 investment to showcase future income potential.

What nationalities can apply under the E2 Visa scheme?

Only nationals on the E2 Treaty Countries list can apply unless they gain entry as dependents.

Major countries in this category include China (People’s Republic of China), India, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Vietnam.

Can E2 Visa lead to Green Card?

Unlike immigrant visas, which lead to permanent residency, the E-2 Visa is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card.

However, there are several other ways to obtain a Green Card, such as employment-based sponsorship, family-based sponsorship, diversity visa lottery, or refugee/asylum status.

How long can you stay in the US with the E2 Visa?

Treaty investors and their eligible employees can initially stay in the United States for up to two years under the E-2 classification. Extensions or changes of status to E-2 classification may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There’s no set limit on the number of extensions that can be granted to an E-2 nonimmigrant.



What are the disadvantages of E2 visa?

Disadvantages of the E-2 Visa:

The E2 does not lead directly to permanent residence (Green Card) or citizenship in the US. Also, the visa is available only to citizens of countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US.


Can I bring my parents to US on E2 Visa?

You can bring your immediate family members– spouse and children under 21 years old- to the US with the E2 Visa. Parents, spouses of children, and other in-laws cannot accompany the main E2 Visa holder.

How hard is it to get an E2 Visa?

The difficulty of obtaining an E-2 visa depends on various factors, including your eligibility, the nature of your investment, and the documentation you provide to support your application. In 2021, the E2 Visa success rate was 92 percent.

Can I marry a U.S. citizen on a E2 Visa?

Yes, you can. If you meet and marry a US citizen while in the country on an E2 Visa, you can be entitled to a green card.

Can I buy a house in U.S. with E2 Visa?

Yes, E2 visa holders are allowed to buy properties in the US and own properties in the country.

Can my wife work on E2 visa?

Yes, the spouse of an E2 Visa Holder is eligible to apply for work authorization (EAD). Once work authorization is approved, the spouse may apply for a Social Security Number (SSN).

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