E2 Visa, A complete Guide for Treaty Investors and Employees

Editorial Team - HomeAbroad  by HomeAbroad Editorial Team
12 min read
E2 Visa

If you are a national from an E2 country (i.e., if your country has an investment treaty with the United States of America), and you want to set up a business in the USA, build an office, or wish to invest in the US economy, it is advisable to have a clear understanding of the E2 Visa before venturing into the USA.

What is E2 Visa?

Also known as the Trade treaty investor Visa, E2 Visa belongs to the non-immigrant visa category. It aims at boosting the friendship, commerce, and navigation between the US and the treaty country. US signed its oldest E2 treaty with the UK in 1815 and the latest with New Zealand in 2019. Today, more than 80 countries are benefiting from the E2 treaty investor visa.

E2 Visa treaty countries
Source: Travel State Gov

Driven by the motto of mutual economic development E2 Visa can only be issued to investors or employees of the E2 countries. E2 Visa allows non-immigrants of those countries with which the United States has a commerce and navigation treaty to enter and work in the US, set up an enterprise, or make a substantial investment in the USA. Treaty investors are required to have control over the funds and demonstrate that the money invested in the foreign business is not from illegal sources.

E2 visa allows the investor and their immediate family (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) to live and work in the United States as long as the investment is active. The visa can be renewed indefinitely depending upon the profitability of the business.

What Business is Good for E2 Visa?

This visa category is a great option for entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses in the United States. But what kind of business is best for this category of visa applicants?

The treaty investor must consider certain parameters when choosing a business plan,

  1. The business must be something that you are passionate about and have the skills to succeed in.
  2. The business must be likely to generate a profit.
  3. The business should be able to provide enough income to support yourself and your family members.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. A small business that you can run from your home.

2. An online business that you can operate from anywhere in the world.

3. A franchise business that you can start up in any state.

4. A business that provides services to other businesses.

5. A business that manufactures products that are sold in the United States.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. The most important thing is to choose a business that you are passionate about, and that has the potential to be profitable. If you do this, you will be well on your way to achieving success with your E2 visa.

Advantages of E2 Visa

There are several advantages of having an E2 visa. However, we have shortlisted the top 5 advantages that you may like to consider. Also, these advantages are not subject to investment requirements.

  1. As per immigration law, E2 visa holders are not bound by the two-year home residency requirement, so they can stay in the United States as long as their visa is valid.
  2. They can apply for a Social Security Number, which allows them to work in the United States.
  3. They can bring their immediate family members, like spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, to the United States on E2 dependent visas.
  4. E2 visa holders can study at any accredited school in the United States.
  5. They are not subject to the same taxes as other foreign nationals with a nonimmigrant status working in the United States.

It is important to have a wholesome understanding of the E2 Visa before applying for it. Thus, now that you know the advantages, it becomes equally crucial to know about the drawbacks too.

Drawbacks of E2 Visa

An E2 visa provides a great opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses in the United States. However, there are some drawbacks to this visa category that you should be aware of before you apply.

  1. It requires a significant investment of capital. You will need to have enough money to cover the costs of setting up your business, including the costs of rent, salaries, and other operating expenses. If you do not have enough money to cover these costs, you will not be able to obtain an E2 visa.
  2. Unlike other visas, such as the H-1B visa, which allows you to stay in the United States for up to six years, the E2 visa is only valid for two years. After your two years are up, you will need to renew your visa. Renewal will be subject to the viability and sustainability of your business.
  3. The E2 visa is not available to everyone. You must be a citizen of a country with an investment treaty with the United States to be eligible for this visa. If you are not a citizen of such a country, you will not be able to obtain an E2 visa.

Despite these drawbacks, if you have the capital to invest and you are from a country that has an investment treaty with the United States, the E2 visa can be a great way for you to start your own business in America.

Who Can Apply for E2 Visa?

There exist two categories of E2 visa applicants,

  1. Investor: Treaty investor who wishes to operate and develop a sustainable and profitable enterprise in the USA or wants to get actively involved in the investment and trading market and have substantial capital to do so.
  2. Employee: E-2 visas are also available to non-investor employees, as long as the individuals are of the same nationality as the investor. They should also have a role in the US business that is either executive/supervisory or needs specialized skills that are critical to the effective and efficient operation of the US enterprise.

E2 Visa Requirements for a Treaty Investor

In order to get a treaty investor visa, you are required to fill in certain criteria. To give you further clarity and make your work easy, here is the list of must- you may crosscheck your qualification for an E2 Visa with,

1. You must have a treaty between your country and the United States.

2. You must be coming to the United States solely to invest in a commercial enterprise.

3. You must have invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in the enterprise.

4. You must be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the enterprise. As the owner of the enterprise, you must have control of at least 50% of the business.

5. The enterprise must be a real and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A passive investment, such as owning undeveloped land or stock in a company, does not qualify.

6. The investment must be substantial. It must be adequate to ensure the trouble-free operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-risk venture is lower than the percentage of investment required for a high-risk venture.

7. The investment must be directly at risk in the commercial sense. It may not be protected against loss by a guarantee from the applicant or other party.

8. The enterprise must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living for you and your family, or it must have a substantial economic impact in the United States.

9. Proof of possession and control of investment funds like a bank account, financial statements, loans, savings, funds invested, etc.

10. You must have invested, or be in the process of investing, capital without direct or indirect assistance from the U.S. government.

E2 Visa requirements for an Employee

To qualify for an E2 visa as an employee, you must:

-Be a citizen of a treaty country.

-An employment offer letter or contract

-Evidence of your qualifications for the position

-Evidence of your financial resources

-Have a valid passport from your country of origin.

-Have a job offer or be self-employed in the United States in your field of expertise.

-Prove that you have the skills and qualifications for the position.

-Show that you have enough financial resources to support yourself and your dependents while in the United States.

-Intend to depart the United States when your E2 status expires.

-Have a residence outside of the United States that you do not intend to abandon.

E2 Visa criteria for self-employed, you must also:

-Show that you have invested, or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a U.S enterprise.

-Show that you are engaged in active and ongoing business operations in the United States.

-Prove that your enterprise is generating sufficient income to provide a living for yourself and your dependents.

E2 Visa requirement for the employer company

-Be a U.S. employer or a qualifying organization.

-Have a valid E2 treaty with your home country.

-The position you are filling must be a managerial or executive position, or one that requires highly specialized skills.

-You must have been employed by the company for at least one year prior to applying for the visa.

The visa application process will vary depending on whether you are applying for an E2 visa from inside or outside of the United States. If you are already in the United States, you may be able to change your status to E2 if you meet the eligibility requirements. If you are applying for an E2 visa from outside the United States, you will need to approach the U.S. consulate or the embassy in your home country.

What is Considered a “Substantial Amount”?

A substantial amount will depend on aspects such as the type of enterprise, the number of opportunities created by the venture, etc. In most cases, an average minimum investment should be at least $100,000USD; however, sometimes, it may be less than this.

E2 Visa Documents Required

To apply for an E2 visa, you will need to submit the following documents with detailed information:

1. Proof of nationality like passports, stock exchange listings, or articles of incorporation of parent company

2. A nonimmigrant visa application (DS-160).

3. Authentication that the enterprise is not marginal. (IRS Form 941, payroll records, personal tax returns, evidence of other personal assets and income)

4. A photograph (5cmx5cm) taken within the last six months.

5. A copy of your CV or resume.

6. Letter of recommendation from the employer.

7. Evidence of financial capability, such as bank statements or payslips

8. Evidence of your educational qualifications

9. A business master plan (if you are self-employed)

10. Proof of ownership of your business investment (if applicable)

Please note that additional documents may be requested by the embassy or consulate during the visa application process.

How to Apply for an E2 Visa?

The process of applying for an E2 visa is relatively simple.

  1. The first step is to determine whether your country has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. (To know, click on the link to the 80 treaty countries mentioned above)
  2. If it does, you can move on to the next step, which is to submit a petition along with the required documents to USCIS.
  3. Once USCIS approves your petition, you can apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate in your home country.
  4. Along with the proof of identity and residence, you will need to submit additional documents, including a business plan, proof of investment, and evidence of your qualification.

If your application is approved, you will be issued an E2 visa, which will allow you to enter the United States for a specific period of time. You can then apply to extend your stay in the country as long as you continue to meet the applicable legal requirements for an E2 visa.

E2 Visa Application and Visa fee

Principal applicant

The E2 visa application fee is $205. This fee is paid to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is non-refundable. There is also a $70 visa issuance fee, which is paid to the U.S. Department of State. This fee is also non-refundable and must be paid even if your E2 visa application is denied.

Family members

If you are applying for an E2 visa as a dependent, each dependent over the age of 21 must pay an additional $205 application fee and an additional $70 visa issuance fee.

The total cost of the E2 visa application and issuance fees is $275 per person, and the dependent over the age of 21 must pay a total of $275 as application and issuance fees.

Please note that the application and issuance fees are subject to change at any time, and we recommend that you confirm the current fees with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State before beginning your E2 visa application process.

Processing Time for E2 Visa

The entire process, from start to finish, can take six to eight months. The processing time for an E2 visa varies depending on the country of origin and the U.S. embassy or consulate where you have applied. In general, it takes about three to four months from the time the application is filed until the visa is issued.

There are a few things that can speed up the process, such as having all the required documentation in order and being able to show that the investment is legitimate. The sooner the application is submitted, the sooner the visa will be issued.

The best way to ensure a speedy processing time is to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you prepare your application and gather all the required documentation. An attorney can also help you navigate the complex visa process and avoid any potential pitfalls.

Validity of E2 Visa

The visa validity of an E2 visa lasts for up to five years. However, it can be renewed indefinitely as long as the existing business continues to meet the applicable legal requirements. Dependents (spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21) are also eligible for an E2 visa and can stay in the United States for as long as the primary visa holder’s visa is valid.

Once in the United States, E2 visa holders can apply for an Employment authorization document (EAD) which will allow them to work in the United States while their E2 visa is valid. Spouses of E2 visa holders can also apply for a work permit, and there is no limit on the number of times an E2 visa can be renewed. However, If you leave the United States or change your employment status, you will need to reapply for a new E2 visa.

E2 Visa to Green card

An E2 visa is a great option for those looking to live and work in the United States. However, it is important to remember that the E2 visa does not lead to a Green Card (Permanent residence). If you want to obtain a Green Card, you will need to apply for a different type of visa.

There are two ways that you can obtain a Green Card when you are on an E2 visa.

  1. The first way is by marrying a US citizen. If you are married to a US citizen, you can apply for a Green Card through marriage.
  2. The second way is by investing in a US business. If you invest in a US business, you may be eligible for an EB-5 visa. The EB-5 visa leads to a Green Card.

How to Renew the E2 Visa?

You may renew your E2 visa by submitting the required documentation to the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A crucial document that needs to be submitted is the I-129 form, which is the petition for a nonimmigrant worker. This form can be obtained from the USCIS website or from a US consulate.

Other documents that need to be submitted along with the I-129 form include:

1. A copy of your current passport;

2. Two recent passport photographs;

3. The fee for the I-129 form, which is currently $325; and

4. Evidence that you have maintained your status as an E2 visa holder(copies of your pay stubs, bank statements, or lease agreements)

Once the USCIS receives your petition, they will review it and make a decision on whether to approve or deny your renewal request. If your renewal is approved, you will be issued a new E2 visa that will be valid for up to two years. If your renewal is denied, you will need to leave the United States and reapply for an E2 visa from your home country.

Conclusion

An E2 visa is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the United States. It allows you to live and work in the country while your business is established. The key to success with an E2 visa is to have a well-written business plan and to be prepared to invest a significant amount of money in your business. If you are willing to do these things, then the E2 visa can be a great way to start your business in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I change my status from a tourist visa to an E2 visa?

No, you cannot change your status from a tourist visa to an E2 visa. If you are in the United States on a tourist visa, you will need to leave the United States and apply for an E2 visa at a US consulate or embassy outside of the United States. You cannot apply for an E2 visa while you are in the United States.


2. Do I need to have a certain amount of money to invest in qualifying for an E2 visa?

There is no set amount of money that you must invest in qualifying for an E2 visa. However, the investment must be “substantial,” which can be defined as “sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.” The amount of money you need to invest will vary depending on the type of business you are starting, the location of the business, and other factors.

3. Can I apply for an E2 visa if I am not planning on starting my own business?

No, you cannot apply for an E2 visa if you are not planning on starting your own business. The E2 visa is for individuals who are coming to the United States to develop and direct their own investment enterprise. If you are not planning on starting your own business, you may be eligible for another type of visa, such as the EB-5 visa.

4. Can I apply for an E2 visa if I am not planning on investing my own money?

No, you cannot apply for an E2 visa if you are not planning on investing your own money. The E2 visa is for individuals who are coming to the United States to develop and direct their investment enterprise. You should be planning on investing your own money to qualify for an E2 visa.

5. Can I apply for an E2 visa if I am not the only owner of the business?

Yes, you can apply for an E2 visa even if you are not the only owner of the business. However, you must have a controlling interest in the business, which means that you must own at least 50% of the business.

6. Can I invest in stocks with an E2 Visa?

Yes, you can invest in stocks with an E2 Visa. You can also invest in other types of securities, such as bonds and mutual funds. However, you cannot invest in real estate with an E2 visa.

7. Can I live anywhere in the United States with an E2 visa?

No, you cannot live anywhere in the United States with an E2 visa. You must live in the area where your business is located.

8. Can I apply for an E2 visa if I am not a citizen of the country where my business is located?

Yes, you can apply for an E2 visa even if you are not a citizen of the country where your business is located. However, you must be a citizen of a treaty country in order to qualify for an E2 visa.

Editorial Team - HomeAbroad
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