E2 Visa Essentials

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An E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is available to citizens of certain countries who have invested a substantial amount of capital in a US-based business. This visa is part of the Treaty Investor Visa program, which was created to encourage international trade and investment in the US.

The E2 visa is valid for up to two years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the investor maintains their business and meets the requirements of the visa.

Treaty Countries

To apply for an E2 visa, one must be a national of a treaty country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. These agreements are specifically designed to facilitate economic interaction between the countries. The list of treaty countries is dynamic and can change based on international relations.

Non-Immigrant Intent

Despite the fact that the E2 visa can be renewed indefinitely, it is still classified as a non-immigrant visa. Applicants must demonstrate that they intend to return to their home country after their business in the US concludes. This non-immigrant intent is a crucial aspect of the E2 visa and distinguishes it from immigrant visas.

Dual Intent Visas

While the E2 visa requires non-immigrant intent, it is also possible to pursue permanent residency while on an E2 visa without violating status. This is referred to as a ‘dual intent’ aspect of the visa, though it is not as straightforward as visas that are explicitly dual intent, like the H-1B.

E2 Visa vs. EB-5 Visa

It’s important to note that the E2 visa is different from the EB-5 visa, which is another type of investment visa. The EB-5 visa requires a larger investment and leads to permanent residency in the US, while the E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa with a smaller investment requirement.

Investment Size Comparison

The EB-5 visa requires a minimum investment of $900,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or $1.8 million outside of a TEA, significantly higher than what is typically required for an E2 visa. These figures are subject to change based on regulatory updates.

Path to Green Card

Unlike the E2 visa, the EB-5 visa directly provides a path to a green card and eventual US citizenship if all conditions are met. E2 visa holders looking to become permanent residents must typically find an alternative pathway, such as family sponsorship or employment-based visas.

E2 Visa Requirements

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To be eligible for an E2 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. A full list of eligible countries can be found on the US Department of State website.
  • You must have invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a US-based business.
  • The investment must be in a real, operating business. This means that passive investments, such as buying stocks or real estate for personal use, do not qualify.
  • The business must be actively managed by the investor or other E2 visa employees.
  • The investment must be at risk, meaning there is a chance of loss if the business does not succeed.

Substantial Amount of Capital

The exact amount of capital required for an E2 visa is not specified by the US government. However, it is generally understood that the investment should be significant enough to ensure the success of the business and create jobs for US workers.

Percentage of Ownership

The investor must own at least 50% of the business or possess operational control through a managerial position or other corporate devices. This control ensures that the investor has a significant stake in the success or failure of the business.

Source of Funds

The funds used for investment must be lawfully obtained and traceable. The investor will need to provide documentation showing the legal source of the investment funds, which can come from savings, gifts, inheritance, or the sale of property, among other sources.

Marginality

The business should not be marginal. This means that it must have the capacity to generate more income than just enough to provide a living for the investor and their family. It should also contribute to the US economy, for example, by creating job opportunities for American workers.

Real, Operating Business

To qualify for an E2 visa, the business must be real and operating, meaning it is actively involved in commerce and not just a shell company. The business must also be producing goods or services for profit.

Active Commercial Enterprise

The business must be a bona fide enterprise and show evidence of commercial activity. Simply owning property or stocks will not qualify. The business must be engaged in the ongoing conduct of trade or services.

Profitable Business Model

The business should have a proven or projected profitable business model. The investor may need to provide a business plan that details the operations, projected growth, and financial forecasts of the enterprise.

Active Management

The E2 visa requires that the investor or other E2 employees be actively involved in the management of the business. This means that the investor cannot simply invest money and have no involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business.

Day-to-Day Operations

The investor must be engaged in the company’s daily management and operations. They should have a hands-on role in making decisions that affect the business’s success and be able to demonstrate their managerial capacity.

Executive or Supervisory Role

The investor should hold an executive or supervisory position if not involved in daily operations. This role should provide the investor with control over the business’s overall direction, policies, and goals.

At Risk Investment

The investment must be at risk, meaning there is a risk of loss if the business does not succeed. This means that the investment cannot be a loan or a gift and must be irrevocably committed to the business.

Irrevocable Commitment

The funds must be irrevocably committed to the business, and the investor must be close to starting actual business operations, if not already in operation. This commitment shows that the investor is seriously committed to the success of the business.

Commercial Risk

The investor must demonstrate that the funds are at commercial risk, which means subject to partial or total loss if business fortunes decline. This risk is a testament to the investor’s commitment to making the enterprise successful.

E2 Visa Eligibility

In addition to meeting the requirements listed above, there are a few other factors that may impact your eligibility for an E2 visa.

Citizenship

As mentioned before, you must be a citizen of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. If you hold dual citizenship, you can choose which country to apply for an E2 visa under.

Change of Citizenship

If you change your citizenship to a non-treaty country after obtaining an E2 visa, you may lose your eligibility. It is essential to maintain citizenship of a treaty country to keep your E2 visa valid.

Previous Visas and Entries

Your history of previous visas and entries into the United States may be considered. A clean record of US immigration compliance can support your application, while violations may cause complications.

Intent to Return

When applying for an E2 visa, you must demonstrate that you have an intent to return to your home country once your visa expires. This means that you must maintain a residence in your home country and have no immediate plans to immigrate to the US.

Evidence of Ties to Home Country

Applicants often provide evidence of strong ties to their home country, such as family, property, or significant responsibilities that indicate an intent to return.

Long-Term Plans

While the E2 visa can be renewed indefinitely, applicants should still have a clear idea of their long-term intentions, which should include eventual return to their home country.

Dependents

One of the benefits of an E2 visa is that your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 can also apply for dependent visas. This allows them to enter and stay in the US for the same period as the investor.

Spouses

Spouses of E2 visa holders are eligible to apply for work authorization in the United States. This can provide additional financial support for the family and opportunities for the spouse to pursue their career.

Children’s Education

Children of E2 visa holders can attend school in the United States. They are allowed to enroll in public, private, or home school programs from kindergarten through 12th grade and can also attend college.

Duration of Stay for Dependents

Dependents can stay in the US as long as the primary E2 visa holder maintains their status. However, once children turn 21, they must change their visa status to remain legally in the country.

How to Apply for an E2 Visa

To apply for an E2 visa, you must follow these steps:

  1. Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Schedule an appointment for an interview at a US embassy or consulate in your home country.
  4. Gather all required documents, including a valid passport, evidence of the investment, and proof of ties to your home country.
  5. Attend your interview and provide all necessary documents.
  6. Wait for a decision on your application.

Completing the DS-160 Form

The DS-160 form is an online nonimmigrant visa application form that must be completed and submitted before scheduling an interview at the US embassy or consulate. It requires detailed information about your background, the purpose of your trip, and your business.

Paying the Application Fee

After submitting the DS-160, you must pay a non-refundable visa application fee. This fee covers the cost of processing your visa application and is typically paid online or at a designated bank.

Scheduling an Interview

Once the application fee is paid, you can schedule an interview at a US embassy or consulate. The wait time for an interview can vary, so it’s advisable to schedule as soon as possible.

Gathering Required Documents

Applicants must gather several required documents to present at the visa interview. These include a valid passport, evidence of the investment, business plans, financial statements, and proof of ties to your home country.

Interview Process

During the interview, a consular officer will review your documents and ask questions about your business and investment. The interview is a crucial part of the application process and can significantly impact the outcome of your application.

Approval and Packet of Information

If approved, you will receive an E2 visa stamped in your passport and a packet of information containing your visa and other important documents. This packet must be presented at a US port of entry.

Hiring an E2 Visa Lawyer

Navigating the E2 visa application process can be complex and overwhelming. Hiring an experienced E2 visa lawyer can help ensure that your application is submitted correctly and has the best chance of being approved.

Get a free consultation with a US Attorney here.

Expertise in Immigration Law

A visa lawyer specializes in immigration law and understands the complexities of the E2 visa process. They can provide valuable insight into the latest regulations and procedures.

Document Preparation

An experienced lawyer can assist with the preparation and organization of all the necessary documentation. They can ensure that your application meets all the requirements and is presented in a clear and professional manner.

Interview Preparation

A lawyer can also prepare you for the visa interview by discussing potential questions and advising on how to effectively communicate your business plans and investment details.

Addressing Concerns

If any issues or concerns arise during the application process, a lawyer can address them promptly and provide guidance on how to proceed. Their experience can be instrumental in overcoming obstacles that may prevent visa approval.

Conclusion

The E2 visa is a great option for foreign investors and entrepreneurs who want to start or purchase a business in the US. By understanding the requirements and eligibility criteria, you can determine if this visa is the right choice for you. If you do decide to pursue an E2 visa, consider hiring an experienced visa lawyer to guide you through the process and increase your chances of success. Click here for a Free Consultation

This Blog was written by:

Global Immigration Partners PLLC, is a specialized immigration law firm.

1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20006, United States

Phone: +1 267-507-6078

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Global Immigration Partners PLLC, is a specialized immigration law firm.

1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, 20006, United States

Phone: +1 267-507-6078

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