E2 Visa Requirements – A Detailed Guide

The E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, that enables people from 30+ treaty countries to enter the United States by investing a substantial amount in a U.S business. The treaty countries are those that have treaties of navigation and commerce, maintain an eligible international agreement with, or are deemed as a qualifying country by the legislation. Individuals can get the E2 visa by making a significant economic contribution, and setting up an office, a business, or practice. There are certain E2 visa requirements that you will need to satisfy to get one. The E2 treaty investors visa does not offer a green card to the applicants. However, you can extend the visa indefinitely as long as the business you invested in is active and viable.

In this article, we shall discuss in detail the various E2 visa requirements that one must meet to apply for this visa.

E2 visa investment requirements

In this section, we’ll provide you with the E2 investor visa requirements that one must meet to be eligible to apply for the E2 visa.

Treaty country

You as an investor must hold citizenship of a country that has a treaty with the US. The E2 visa is not offered for non-treaty country citizens.

E2 visa investment options

Investment

  • You must have invested in an enterprise, or are in the process of investing.
  • If you have already invested, you must show proof that the source of the investment funds is acquired through legitimate means, such as savings, sale of an asset, gifts, etc.
  • If you are in the process of investing, you must commit funds towards the investment and ensure that it is real and irreversible. You should be close in beginning the business, not just simply looking for locations or signing contracts.
    • To validate this requirement, once you commit to the decision of investing, the business broker will draw an asset purchase contract between the current owners of the business and your US company.
    • If your E2 visa application is accepted, the fund will be passed on to the seller, and you will get the business. The fund will be returned back to you if your application is rejected.

Active and operating enterprise

  • The enterprise that you are investing in must be genuine and operating. The enterprise should provide goods and services for profit.
  • It cannot be idle or an enterprise on paper. The US Embassy will go through your documents, such as registration documents, founding documentation, federal employer’s identification number, etc,  as proof of establishment.
  • Also, the tax returns, employee data, business licenses, etc to check whether your company is active and operating, is required.

Substantial investment

  • You must invest a substantial amount in a bona fide enterprise in the US. No set dollar figure can be said as a substantial amount for the E2 visa investment. However, you must put your assets at risk to make a profit. The US company must be actively engaged in a commercial sense and satisfy the applicable legal requirements for doing business in the region or state.
  • The substantial investment intends to make sure that your business is not a speculative or idle investment, but will become a successful enterprise in the future. You should be motivated and committed to making the business a success.

More than a marginal investment

  • Your investment funds must have a considerable impact on the US economy. It should not provide living only for you and your family. Your investment must be a significant economic contribution to the US economy.
  • The enterprise that you are investing in should not be just a marginal enterprise. A marginal enterprise is an enterprise that does not have the present or future capacity to generate fund that is more than enough income to provide a minimal living for you and your family.
  • The predicted future earnings must be met within 5 years from the date you commence your business activity.
  • Note that just an intent for investment or having uncommitted funds in the bank account will not be considered an investment.

Own at least half of the enterprise

  • The E2 treaty investors must own at least 50% of the enterprise, giving them operational control.
  • You should also be developing and directing the investment enterprise activities through your ownership, making a significant economic impact.

Depart the US when E2 status terminates

  • You must prove to the embassy that your intent in entering the US is just to work and live temporarily. Note that 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 house, job, or family.
Departing US

Creating a business immigration plan

The embassy will be expecting you to submit a business plan on how your investment affects the US economy at the time of the interview. Here are some pointers to consider while developing a business plan.

Developing a business plan

Financial strategy

  • The plan should mention the financial projections and details on how your business will gain sufficient funds to provide a living for you, your family, and your employees. Your business should also create new jobs, within the duration of the E2 treaty investors visa (two years).
  • Be realistic with your financial plans.  After two years, when you go for renewing your visa, you will be asked for proof. You need to show the figures and documentation as proof of achieving the projections you mentioned at the time of applying.

Operational strategy

  • You are required to show evidence of your 50% ownership of the enterprise you invested in.
  • The US Embassy will want you to brief them about your business activities in the US. There is a multitude of corporate structures (LLC and US corporation) in the US for securing an E2 visa. You need to decide under which one you are going to operate.

Personnel strategy

  • The E2 visa requires you to develop and direct the business with other individuals, taking care of the skilled or unskilled labor demands in the company.
  • You must show that your business can create new jobs for resident workers within your company.
  • You can also demand other foreign employees who belong to the same nationality as you (treaty employer).

Marketing strategy

  • You should impress the US Embassy with your approach to marketing within the US. Mention your plans, budget, and personnel requirement for the marketing activity in the document.
  • It will be an added advantage if you can mention some contacts, or meetings that are lined up in relation to your enterprise, or contracts.

 Skills and experience

  • The nature of the business that you invested in must be relevant to your professional experience, qualifications, or skills.
  • The Embassy might question you at the interview to verify whether you have a synergy between your skills and your line of work.

Permanent residence eligibility

You are not eligible for a permanent stay or a green card in the US with an E2 visa. However, once your visa duration ends, you can renew it with 2 years extension. There is no limit on the number of times that you can renew it.

E2 visa processing time, stay, and extension

Processing time

The application processing time can be anywhere between two weeks and 5 months, depending upon the Consulate you are applying to. If you are outside the US, then your application will be processed at the US Consulate in your country. If you are in the US, then you can apply directly at the USCIS to change your visa status to having an E2 Visa.

The change of status takes two to three months. However, you can cut back 15 business days, by opting for premium services. For premium processing, you need to pay an extra $2,500. If you are not sure about the application process, hire an immigration attorney from a law firm.

If you are interested to know more about the E2 visa, required documents, and processing time, refer to our guide on E2 visa USA.

Stay and extension

The E2 visa allows you to work and live in the US for two years. All individuals covered by the E2 visa are allowed to travel in and out of the USA. After two years, you can extend the E2 visa for another two years. You have an unlimited extension on the stay.

The principal investor is allowed to travel abroad and is granted an automatic two-year readmission period on entering the US. If the family members are traveling along with the primary investor at that time, then they can request readmission to the US. However, if the family members travel abroad and return to the US alone, the new readmission period will not be applied to them.

Employee requirements for E2 visa

As a principal investor, you can apply for E2 for qualifying employees, who are usually of the same nationality as yours (same treaty country). The registration might take a few months depending upon 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 position 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, difficult to find in the US.
    • The employee is necessary to run a principal trader or investor’s business in the US.

Family members of E2 treaty investor visas

The family members of the E2 treaty investors are also eligible to apply for the E2 visas, they can also stay up to two years in the US. The dependents and spouses need not be from the same treaty country as the principal E2 visa holder.

The spouses can work, however, it is recommended to get a work authorization certificate. Children under the age of 21 cannot work under the E2 visa, however, they are allowed to study. Children after reaching the age of 21 under an E2 visa, need to explore other visa options to stay in the US.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the E2 visa requirements?

Some of the key requirements include: You must be from one of the US treaty countries, the investment must be active and substantial, whether you are in a position to direct or develop the investment enterprise.

How much money do I need for an E2 visa?

There is no set minimum investment amount. The recommended investment is approximately $100,000. However, it depends on your situation. Some applicants who have invested less than $100,000 have also got their E2 visa status approved.

Do I need to be in the US to apply for the E2 visa?

No, you do not need to be in the US to apply for the E2 visa. If you are applying from outside the US, you can apply through your US consulate office.

Can I get legal permanent residency with the E2 visa?

Yes, it is possible to apply for permanent residency indirectly without risking your E2 status. For this to be done, an organization or a qualified person must file an immigration petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service on your behalf.