USA and the UK
- What is an E-2 Visa?
- What is a treaty country?
- What are the E-2 Visa requirements?
- What is the legal definition of “investment”?
- How to apply for an E-2 Visa
- What is the difference between E-1 and E-2 Visas?
- What documentation do you need to apply for an E-2 Visa?
- What is the processing time for an E-2 Visa?
- How long is the Treaty Investor Visa valid?
- How can I get an E-2 Visa renewal?
- Can my employees apply for an E-2 Visa?
- Can I bring my dependents with me on an E-2 Visa?
- Can the USCIS reject my E-2 Visa application?
What is an E2 Visa?
The E-2 Visa, also known as the Treaty Trader and Investor Visa, is a non-immigrant permit for investors and investment companies who are from a treaty country. This visa allows investors to live and work in the United States for the purposes of developing their business.
To be eligible, you must intend to invest substantial funds in a bona fide U.S. business. In this case, a bona fide business refers to a real, active commercial, or entrepreneurial undertaking that produces services or goods for profit.
Executive, managerial, and employees with specialized knowledge relating to your business are allowed on this visa provided that they are of the same nationality as the treaty investor.
Those who receive E-2 investor visas can work only within their approved enterprise. If you have significant financial assets that you wish to invest in a U.S. business, this may be the best option for you to enter the country.
What is a treaty country?
Those who are looking to apply for an E-2 visa must be from one of the many treaty countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or any other qualifying international agreement. For an up-to-date list of qualifying treaty countries, visit the travel.state.gov official website.
What are the E-2 Visa requirements?
To be eligible for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, visa applicants must meet the following requirements:
- If you an individual investor, you must be national from a treaty country
- You have either invested or are currently investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- You are looking to enter the United States for the sole purpose of developing and directing your investment enterprise
- You must demonstrate that you hold at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or operational control through either a managerial position or another corporate device
- Your investment must be made in the attempt to generate a profit within five years
- Your business must employ the U.S. workforce
- Your company must be actively engaged in trade relations with other U.S. enterprises
- You already have a business plan detailing the strategy of your new business
What is the legal definition of “investment”?
The primary requirement for the E-2 Visa is to invest a certain amount of money in a U.S. business. This business must be in a real operating enterprise. Neither a speculative or idle investment such as investment in stocks or real estate not uncommitted funds in a bank account or a similar security qualify as an investment.
To legally qualify as an “investment”, your funds must not have been generated through illegal means. You must have full control of the funds and understand that they are at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the investment enterprise’s assets are not allowed.
At the same time, your investment must not be marginal. This means it must be able to generate significantly more income than just being able to provide for you and your family. It must also be able to make a significant economic impact in the United States. Furthermore, the investment must be substantial enough to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.
You can put your investment into a new company or an existing business. Since this visa cannot be used to create a job entirely for the principal applicant, your chosen enterprise should employ at least a few other people.
In addition, the business must have some proper dedicated premises meaning companies run from home are not eligible for an E-2 Visa.
On the bright side, there are virtually no restrictions on the type of business you can start as an E-2 Visa applicant.
How to apply for an E-2 Visa
The first step of your E-2 Visa application is to submit a DS-160 Form (Non-immigrant Visa Form). If you are traveling with your employees or colleagues, each applicant needs to file a separate DS-160F. Overall, the E-2 Visa application steps are as followed:
- File the Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Pay the application fee
- Prepare a portfolio of evidence that supports your visa application
- Schedule and attend the visa interview
DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application) is an online form that will ask you questions regarding your background and purpose for entering the United States. After you have completed this form, you will be shown a confirmation page and number at the end. It is important that you print out this page and save it for later use and it will need to be submitted in your portfolio of evidence.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will then require access to further documentation. You must provide proof of a stable source of income and evidence of your intent to return to your country of origin at the end of your authorized stay.
It should be noted that each U.S. Embassy or Consulate may have additional application requirements. For example, in some cases, you may be asked to fill out the Non-immigrant Treaty Trader (also known as Treaty Investor Application).
What is the difference between E-1 and E-2 Visas?
Both E-1 and E-2 are intended to welcome foreign traders or investors in the U.S. However, only nationals from some distinct eligible countries can benefit from these permits
The E-1 Visa is open to “substantial” traders that can offer benefits to both their local and U.S. organizations. On the other hand, E-2 applicants must have access to a “committed and irrevocable” amount of money. This substantial amount of money must be enough to cover any potential trade transaction, as well as any business-related risk.
Furthermore, E-2 Visa holders are expected to generate a higher return from their international engagement. Whereas, E1 Visas can carry on their business without necessarily developing their company’s revenue.
If you are more interested in undertaking an import/export enterprise, you should check your eligibility for an E-1 Treaty Trader Visa.
Additionally, if you have a higher sum to invest ($500,000 or more), it may be worth considering a different route. For example, you can go directly for an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Green Card. However, this permit cannot grant you the same flexibility as an E-2 Visa, since you will then need to meet different presence requirements and provide a minimum investment.
What documentation do you need to apply for an E-2 Visa?
The most relevant part of your application consists of proving that your business meets the E-2 Visa requirements. The following evidence is requested:
- Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application)
- Form DS-156E (Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader / Investor Application)
- Receipt of application fee payment
- A passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of stay in the United States
- Photograph (must be according to U.S. passport standards)
- A comprehensive business plan with detailed information on how to grow and expand operations
- Your curriculum vitae/resume (this should include details of your business experience and any other qualifying credentials you have may)
- Evidence that supports your employment in either a supervisory or executive capacity, or demonstrates that the visa applicant possesses the highly specialized skill capacity essential to the efficient operation of the business
- Evidence that demonstrates that you have full possession and control of the investment funds (ex. bank records, financial statements, loans, savings, or promissory notes)
- Evidence of remittance to the U.S. (bank drafts, transfers exchange permits or receipts)
- Evidence of the establishment of an existing business in the U.S. (articles of incorporation, partnership agreement, organization, and staffing charts, shares, titles, contracts, receipts, business licenses or property leases)
- Proof of investor(s) nationality (passports, articles of incorporation of parent company or stock exchange listings)
- Proof of U.S. investment (titles, receipts, contracts, loans or bank statements)
- Proof that you have substantial funds to invest (ex. audits, U.S. corporate or business tax returns)
- Evidence that proves that your business is not a marginal enterprise (ex. payroll records, IRS Form 941, personal tax returns, evidence of other personal assets and income)
- Supporting documentation that shows your investment enterprise is a real, operating business (annual reports, catalogs, sales literature, news articles, and other evidence as appropriate)
What is the processing time for an E-2 Visa?
The average E2 Visa processing time is 2-4 weeks if the USCIS can adequately review your documents.
In addition, obtaining a visa for your employees usually takes another two weeks.
If you are looking for a speedier method, you can pay for a premium processing service which might allow you to receive your response within 15 calendar days.
To apply for the premium processing time, you must submit an I-907 form and pay an additional fee of $2,500.
How long is the Treaty Investor Visa valid?
Eligible treaty investors and their employees are generally allowed an initial stay of two years. Before your visa expires, you can submit your request for an extension of stay.
As a general rule, you and your employees can stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain your intention to go back to your home country when your immigration status expires or is terminated.
If you wish to travel abroad while holding an E2 Visa, you may be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission. During this timeframe, you can return to the U.S. without filing a new Form I-129.
How can I get an E-2 Visa renewal?
An E-2 Visa holder is initially admitted in the country for up to two years. Since each of the E-2 Treaty countries has different agreements with the United States, visa validity may vary.
Your permit can be extended indefinitely, as long as your business rationale is still relevant. Every E-2 Visa renewal grants a period of two more years in the country.
It is advisable to request your visa extension before your I-94 card expires. However, while you wait for your E-2 Visa renewal approval, you may be granted an additional stay of 40 days in the U.S.
Can my employees apply for an E-2 Visa?
Your E2 Visa application can also be extended to employees as long as they meet the following requirements:
- They are considered an essential employee who is indispensable to run the business
- They are of the same nationality as the leading applicant
- They will occupy supervisory or executive positions
- They possess proven skills not readily available among U.S. workers
It should be noted that in order to bring your employees with your under an E-2 visa, you will need to file a separate petition form for each of your employees.
Can I bring my dependents with me on an E-2 Visa?
Your E2 Visa status may cover your immediate family members, that is your spouse and your unmarried children under the age of 21. The only requirement they must meet in order to relocate to the United States is that they must also be citizens of one of the treaty countries.
Spouses of the principal investor may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to seek the right to work in the country. Likewise, children will also be able to attend public school in the United States.
Can the USCIS reject my E-2 Visa application?
Refusals can take two forms – A RFE and a NOID. RFE is a request for further information. A NOID is a notice of intent to deny. Both need prompt responses. Some main reasons for refusal are:
Marginal or unacceptable business activity. Applicants cannot demonstrate that the US enterprise is engaging in non-marginal activities, instead of operating passive businesses like investment businesses (finance and properties) or those that don’t require staff.
Lack of at-risk investment, i.e. an insufficient percentage of the overall ‘significant’ and investment is required to be placed at risk. Some investments can be held in an escrow account as a means of demonstrating ‘at risk’.
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Since it has a non-immigrant intent, the E2 Visa does not lead to a Green Card. To change your status, you need to apply for a new permit and then seek permanent residency.
To apply for an E-2 visa, you will need to pay an application fee of $205 for Form DS-160. In addition, you also need to pay an issuance fee. The amount of this fee and how much it is will depend on the country from where you are applying.
If you are in a hurry and need your application expedited, you may apply for premium processing which will process your visa within 15 calendar days and costs an additional $2,500.
Our immigration attorneys have prepared hundreds of E-2 Treaty Investor business plans. We understand all of the criteria and can instantly help appraise and represent any prospective E-2 business proposal into an effective plan.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful application is to seek legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney. Our immigration attorney services include the following:
- Overseeing your E-2 Visa application forms to make sure that you have a strong application before submitting it to USCIS
- Checking to make sure that you have enough adequate documentation about your business
- Following the E-2 application process so that your employees can join you in the United States as well
- Liaising with your local U.S. Consulate and the USCIS on your behalf
Additionally, we also offer a non-RFE Guarantee. An RFE (request for evidence) is usually the first refusal by the USCIS, who requires additional information or changes to the business plan and /or the application pack, usually within a short deadline. In the event of an RFE, we will amend the business plan free of charge and within acceptable deadlines.
For more information and advice, please contact us on +1 844 290 6312 or use our online inquiry form.