Citizens of a treaty country are eligible for an E-2 treaty investor visa
Only citizens of certain countries that have a bi-lateral treaty with the United States are eligible to apply for an E-2 visa. Click here to find out if you are a citizen of a treaty country. To qualify, the enterprise must be considered active, the person(s) applying must have invested or is in the process of investing in the business, the investment amount must be substantial and at risk of being lost, and the investor must enter to oversee and direct the day-to-day operations. The E-2 visa is usually valid for five years, and it may be renewed on an indefinite as long as the business continues to operate.
How much money should be spent to be consider a ‘substantial investment’?
The law and regulations do not state is considered a “substantial investment” for an E-2 visa. Opinions vary as to the amount needed – but it is generally agreed that the investment should be around $100,000 or more. There may be some situations where the investment can be lower – even as little as $50,000.00. However, these usually involve enterprises that act as a subsidiary to a parent company in the foreign investor’s home country. In these types of situations, the investor may want to consider an L-1 visa for new office start-ups.
What does it mean when the investment has to be ‘at risk’?
To qualify for an E-2 visa, the investor must have already spent the money towards the startup or purchase of the business. This is the meaning of “at risk” – specifically, the investment must be at risk of being lost of the business is unsuccessful. For example, buying a business for $100,000 and paying the seller means that the money is at risk. Buying inventory and furniture for a new business is also considered putting the money at risk. If an applicant kept the funds in a bank account and applied for an E-2 visa, the officer would not deem this to be at risk because the investor has not irrevocably committed the funds towards the enterprise.
If purchasing an existing business, the investor can make the sale contingent on approval of the E-2 visa as long as the money is first placed in escrow (an account held in trust be a neutral third party). If the visa is approved, the funds would be transferred from escrow to the seller. If the visa is denied, the funds can be returned to the applicant. This is a prudent way to protect your funds yet still meeting the E-2 criteria.
What is considered active commercial enterprise?
The applicant must purchase or start an active commercial enterprise. This means that the business should be providing some type of tangible good or service, such as a car wash, gas station, physical therapy clinic, etc. The key is that the enterprise cannot be passive, idle or speculative, such as real estate investment. You can also either start a new business or buy an existing business on an E-2 visa.
What are the ownership requirements?
To qualify as an E-2 investor, the applicant must own at least half (50%) of the U.S. business. If the applicant owns less than half, he or she may still be able to work for the enterprise as an E-2 employee so long as more than 50% of that U.S. enterprise is owned by citizens of the treaty country. For example, three Canadian citizens each own one-third of a U.S. restaurant. While none of the owners qualify as E-2 investors since each person’s equity is 33%, they can enter and work at the restaurant as E-2 employees because the restaurant is more than 50% owned b Canadian citizens.
What are E-2 essential employees?
If a U.S. enterprise is at least 50% owned by citizens of a treaty country, the company may be able to hire employees who are also citizens of that country to work for the U.S. company under E-2 visas as executives, managers, supervisors or employees with essential skills.
Can spouses and children enter on E-2 visas?
Yes – spouses and children under 21 of E-2 investors or employees are permitted to accompany the principal applicant. E-2 spouses are entitled to apply for employment authorization – which means that they can work anywhere in the United States without any restrictions or limitations. Children under 21 are permitted to attend school in the United States.
Our E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Legal Services
Our services include: assessing whether the applicant meets the criteria to qualify as an E-2 treaty investor under the appropriate regulations; filing the petition and all supporting evidence at a U.S. consulate abroad or through USCIS; and preparing the applicant for the E-2 interview at the consulate. We can also assist clients with selecting and forming the appropriate corporate entity, obtaining a FEIN, social security number, and all other relevant paperwork.
Some of our approved E-2 businesses include: