E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
Securing your commercial future in the USA
When deciding to file a petition for an E2 work visa, it’s important to be aware of the key E2 visa requirements for investors and individual guidelines. USCIS defines an E-2 investment as “the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. Your investment may be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture, or purchasing a pre-existing business”.
An E2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa reserved for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the United States. E2 investor visas allow foreign investors to enter and work inside of the United States based on a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise. In this article, we’re going to explain the top E2 Visa Requirements for Investors and the qualifications.
There are two types of investor visas so before looking into E2 visa requirements for investors you want to make sure the E2 visa is the right fit for you as a foreign investor. If the E2 visa isn’t the correct fit for you, there is also the option of an EB-5 investor green card.
Complete our assessment form to arrange a free consultation with our US immigration lawyers based in the UK to discover your best options.
Who Can Apply For An E2 Treaty Visa
To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or some other corporate device.
What An E2 Visa Holder Can Do
There are a number of privileges that you can enjoy on E-2 Treaty Investor Visa which include:
- Ability to travel freely in/out of the United States
- Work legally in the U.S. with the company
- Remain in the country on a prolonged based with extensions available to you
- Have workers accompany you under your E-2 status
- Have dependents or relatives accompany you while working in the U.S.
- Spouses and children (unmarried under 21 years of age) may receive derivative E visas in order to accompany the principal visa holder. The spouse of an E visa holder may apply to DHS for employment authorization. Dependent children of an E visa holder are not authorized to work in the U.S.
- Dependents are able to attend school in the U.S., as well as colleges and universities without needing an F1 visa.
- Spouse and dependents can also apply for EADs (employment authorization documents) to be permitted to work in the U.S.
The Capital Investment Required
An investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.
A substantial amount of capital is:
- Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
- Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
- Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.
The investment enterprise may not be marginal. A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.
Depending on the facts, a new enterprise might not be considered marginal even if it lacks the current capacity to generate such income. In such cases, however, the enterprise should have the capacity to generate such income within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E-2 classification begins.
E-2 processing time typically takes between 2-4 weeks from the time of filing. Some US Embassies may have a longer processing time. Know that additional time may be required depending on the specifics of your case. Our E-2 lawyers will be able to more accurately explain your processing time.
Each visa has its pros and cons. Depending on your situation, the E-2 visa may not be right for your case. Here are some common reasons why the E-2 visa may not be appropriate or desirable:
- Limited to nationals of countries with investment treaties (see list above)
- Must work for the specific business that the E-2 visa is tied to
- Approved in increments of two years so depending on the time length you require, the application process may be complex
If you cannot live with these limitations the EB-5 Visa may be worth exploring as an alternative.
Length of Visa
Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
An E-2 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. Please note that while your E-2 visa may be issued for 3 months or up to 5 years (depending upon the reciprocity laws which exist with your country of nationality), your period of authorized stay in the United States is determined by your I-94 which is issued at the time you enter the US with an E-2 visa.
Securing Your Green Card
Going from a nonimmigrant visa (temporary) to an immigrant one (green card) is often a long and complicated process, especially with certain kinds of green cards. For the most part, those who were in the U.S. under E-2 status go for an employment- or investment-based green card, which may or may not be applicable to you depending on your situation. Here are some of the common choices:
- The EB-5 for foreign investors.
- The EB-1 for extraordinary aliens, outstanding researchers and professors, or multinational executives and managers.
- The EB-2 for those with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in their field.
While it is not common for E-2 visa holders to pursue an EB-2 green card, it does happen. In this case be sure to take a look at our guide on the PERM Labor Certification to better understand this process.
The EB-1 can be attainable, especially if you can demonstrate extraordinary achievement. Through this qualification, you can apply without the need for a sponsoring employer.
However, one of the most common green cards that E-2 visa holders petition for is the EB-5 due to having similar requirements. To get an EB-5, you must invest at least $1 million in a U.S. enterprise or $500,000 in an enterprise located in a rural area or an area with high unemployment.
To get the EB-5 process started once you’ve invested the money, you will need to send an I-526 petition to the USCIS along with the necessary fees (if you are going for the EB-1 or EB-2, you will need to send the I-140 petition). Once they receive your petition, that date will be your priority date. You will need to keep that date handy and check it against the final action dates provided in the Department of State’s monthly newsletter. Once your priority date matches or passes the final action date given in your green card category and your country of origin, your priority date will be considered current, a visa number will become available, and you can move onto the next step.
Once your priority date is current, you will have two paths to choose from for the adjustment of status and consular processing. Because you are already in the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa status (i.e. your E-2 visa), you can simply file an I-485 application to have your status adjusted from nonimmigrant to immigrant. Although this is the easier route, this process takes an average of six months and can be relatively costly depending on your age.
On the other hand, you can travel to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your home country and participate in a one-on-one interview with an immigration officer if you choose to use consular processing. This usually costs less (ignoring any travel fees) and can take less time, so you and your attorney can decide which route is best for you. In either case, you will be issued your green card after your status is approved.
Book Your Consultation
Complete our online enquiry form and one of our senior managers will arrange a confidential consultation to discuss your requirements and potential options.
At Haskew Law, our UK based team of US immigration lawyers are highly acclaimed and experience in all aspects of the E2 Visa process. Our thesis, however, is to keep things as simple as possible. We believe it is important our clients are comfortable and remain in control of their US emigration plans and business investment throughout the process. We protect our clients best interests at all times while delivering outstanding results.
We look forward to hearing from you.
E2 Visas Explored
Name: USA E2 Visas For Business Investors
Description: Over the years the E2 Treaty Investor Visa has grown in popularity as more business investors look to the US to take advantage of the world's largest domestic, English speaking economy and the advantages the USA has to offer in terms of lifestyle and opportunities for the investor and their family.
Apply For Your Free Consultation