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 allows 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.
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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.
On E-2 visa, you may:
- Work legally in the company that is the investment vehicle in the U.S.
- Travel freely in and out of the U.S.
- Stay on a prolonged basis with unlimited two-year extensions as long as you maintain E-2 qualifications
- Be accompanied by your dependents under 21, relatives and spouse. Your spouse may also work while in the U.S. while your dependents may attend U.S. schools, colleges, and universities, and do not have to apply for separate student visa.
However, the disadvantages are as follows:
- E2 visas are available only to nationals of countries (listed below) having investment treaties with the U.S.
- You are restricted to work only for the specific employer or self-owned business that acted as your E2 visa sponsor
- E2 visas are approved for two years at a time which makes the application/extension process slow.
Key E2 Visa Requirements for Investors to Qualify
The E2 visa minimum investment requirement is that you invest in a bona fide enterprise. By failing to do this, your petition will not qualify. A bona fide enterprise is defined by the immigration authorities as “a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit”.
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that your business is bona fide includes:
- Notice of assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Tax returns
- Financial statements
- Quarterly wage reports or payroll summaries (i.e., W-2s and W-3)
- Business organizational chart
- Business licenses
- Bank statements, utility bills, and advertisements/telephone directory listings
- Contracts or customer/vendor agreements
- Escrow documents
- Lease agreement
There are a few key E2 visa requirements for investors that will help you prepare your petition and ensure that you are a qualifying applicant. You can check the status after completing your petition.
The investor must be a national of a treaty country.
Treaty countries currently include:
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Yugoslav.
It is important to note that you must be a legitimate citizen of one of the above countries in order to fulfill the E2 visa requirements. It is not enough to maintain legal permanent residency. Your current passport must be from one of these treaty countries. However, you do not have to be currently residing in a treaty country as long as your citizenship from a treaty country.
For example, if Mr. Cousteau is a citizen of France but has been living in China for the last eight years, he still fulfills the E2 visa requirements and can apply.
Additional information regarding individual countries is available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The investment must be substantial.
It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise. While some investments of less than $100,000 are approved, it’s safe to say that the investment capital and reserves should total no less than $100,000.
Some evidence you can use to prove that the investment is substantial is corresponding personal and/or business bank statements, itemized list of goods and materials purchased for the start-up, and corresponding financial accounting documentation. It’s also wise to put together a business plan that illustrates your projected success.
The investor must have control of the funds.
At risk means that the investor is to be irrevocably committed. If you’re able to walk away from the investment without losing anything, you do not qualify. The applicant must have already spent the money towards the startup, purchase of a U.S. business, or enterprise. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed. The investment must be at risk of being lost due to the business or enterprise being unsuccessful.
If you are purchasing an existing business, you should know all there is to know about the business and its counterparts. Learn the all the components of the business and come to an educated conclusion of how well they are doing presently and how successful the business is projected to be.
The investment must be a real operating enterprise.
A real operating enterprise means that the enterprise must be offering a tangible good or service. Examples of these enterprises are restaurants, retail stores, medical offices, etc. Speculative or idle investment such as real estate investments, undeveloped land, or stocks held by an investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise does not qualify. Similarly, uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
The investment may not be marginal.
A marginal enterprise will not project enough return on investment to make a significant economic contribution. The enterprise must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise.
If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify. The government will not grant you an E2 visa if they don’t believe you play an important role in the enterprise.
You must show that you will develop and direct the investment enterprise by demonstrating ownership of at least 50 percent of the enterprise, or by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate devices.
How Can An Employee Qualify?
In order for an employee of an investor to apply for this visa, there are a series of E2 visa requirements that must be met:
- Your employee must be a citizen of the same treaty country that the principle E2 investor (you) maintains citizenship.
- Your employee must qualify under the definition of an “employee” as stated in the U.S. legal code.
- You must be able to prove that your employee is necessary for the fulfillment of your endeavor. This is easily proven if he or she is a manager or executive, but can also be proven if he or she has specialized knowledge that makes them instrumental to the operation or development of your enterprise.
Is A Business Plan Required?
It is not an official E2 visa requirement to have a business plan. However, it is highly recommended that you submit a comprehensive business plan along with your E2 evidence. This is because the USCIS wants to see that your enterprise will create jobs and stimulate the economy in the U.S.
To prove this, you need to make it clear that you have experience starting a business or that your enterprise has a high likelihood of success. Submitting a business plan is the best way to accomplish this.
E2 Visa Requirements for Investors Recap
Filing for a visa can be quite complex and labor-intensive, which is why it’s best to always consult a professional with this type of experience. If you believe you meet the E2 Visa Requirements for Investors then the next step is to give us a call to start the filing process and gather the materials necessary to send to USCIS.
In the event that you do not meet the E2 Visa Requirements for Investors then we’ll offer other visa options that may be more suitable for your case. Due to the time sensitive nature of these filings, however, it’s ideal to get started immediately because other appropriate visas may have a fixed quota/annual allotment like the H1B Visa for instance.
Our Lawyers Are Waiting to Help You
Do You Need Assistance Filing for an E2 Visa? The lawyers at SGM Law Group can help you file an E2 visa based on the USCIS and U.S. Department of State guidelines. With years of experience helping investors get their start in the U.S., we are uniquely equipped with the knowledge to help you with your specific E2 case.
By filling out this contact form, you can schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys and get started on the road to success through our firm.
During your consultation, we’ll explain which course of action will suit your case best. We may determine that you do not qualify for an E2 visa and suggest more suiting non-immigrant status alternatives.