The E-1 and E-2 visas involve a reciprocal agreement between the United States and foreign countries that enables nationals to invest or conduct trade between the two nations. Foreign nationals can obtain an E-1 visa by engaging in trade with the U.S. or an E-2 visa by overseeing investments in the U.S. Both individuals and large multinational corporations can use the E-visa category. This article will provide an overview of the E-2 visa and its requirements.
What is a “Treaty Investor” Visa?
E-2 "Treaty Investor" visas are a type of non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs and investors to enter and work in the United States. A non-immigrant visa does not provide a path to permanent residency or citizenship, and those seeking a green card should do so through a different immigration program. The E-2 visa is only intended for business owners and investors looking to make significant investments in the United States. Once processed, the visa is issued for five years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business that has been invested in continues to operate.
Unlike other non-immigrant visa categories, one of the main benefits of the E-2 visa is that it doesn’t have a cap on the number of visas issued each year. The E-2 visa also allows for flexibility in terms of the type of business that can be invested in, as there is no requirement for the investment company to be part of any specific industry.
Eligibility for an E-2 visa predominantly depends on the citizenship of the investor. To qualify, you must be a citizen of a country that has an existing treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. Additional requirements include the following:
- The applicant must own at least 51% of the enterprise or have operational control of the business.
- The business must be legitimate and active in commercial or entrepreneurial enterprises.
- The applicant must seek entry to the U.S. for the exclusive purpose of developing or directing the investment, meaning they must leave the U.S. once they have concluded their business.
- The applicant must demonstrate the availability of "substantial" funds committed to the investment; Typically an investment of at least $100,000 is required. Applicants must prove that the funds came from a lawful source, such as a gift, or a loan secured by assets.
The application process for an E-2 visa involves filing a petition with either the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or a U.S. Consulate. If the petition is filed with the USCIS, the waiting period is generally several months. However, the USCIS offers an option for premium 15-day processing for a fee of $1,225. If the petition is filed with a U.S. Consulate, the visa is usually issued a few days after the interview.
Once processed, the E-2 is issued for 5 years, however, if it’s obtained in the U.S. as a change of status from another visa, it will be issued for 2 years. Regardless of whether the visa was issued outside the U.S. or as a status change, it can still be renewed indefinitely as long as the business continues to operate. Visa holders will be able to bring their spouse, who will have work authorization and children under 21. Once the children turn 21, they are required to obtain their own visa to remain in the U.S.
The E-2 visa is an attractive option for foreign entrepreneurs who want to invest in or manage a business in the U.S., but it’s important to meet the eligibility requirements before applying to save time and money on processing. Get in touch with us online, or by calling (214) 919-5250 to schedule a consultation to discuss the E2 visa or any other immigration visa needs.