I am an experienced E-2 visa lawyer who has helped numerous foreign nationals qualify for the E-2 visa USA program. I combine my knowledge and experience in both business and immigration law to guide you through the process of obtaining a E-2 investor visa, advise you on how to meet the treaty investor visa requirements, and assist you with your visa application. I help you design and execute your personalized US immigration strategy. You can find more information about the E-2 visa USA program, requirements, processing times, and my E-2 visa lawyer services below:Talk to a Lawyer
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The E-2 investor visa is the perfect business visa solution for foreign entrepreneurs and investors who want to start their own business in the United States. The E-2 investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign investors to live in the United States while directing and developing their business. The E-2 visa USA program is a great alternative to the EB-5 US investor green card because the program lacks minimum investment and residence requirements.
The E-2 visa USA program permits the beneficiary to extend her investor visa indefinitely, as long as the E-2 investor continues to comply with the regulations. This offers a lot of flexibility, allowing the investor to stay in the United States beyond the initial (generally 5-year) term of the E-2 visa. Moreover, the E-2 business visa program does not require the investor to permanently reside in the United States, as long as the E-2 investor continues to direct and develop the US business. Furthermore, the investor may return to her country of origin and abandon her residence in the United States at any time without any official abandonment procedures. This flexibility makes the E-2 visa USA program one of the best investor visa solutions.
Unlike the EB-5 investor green card, the E-2 visa USA program does not have a minimum investment amount. This makes the E-2 investor visa a great option if your US business does not have high startup expenses or you wish to invest less than the EB-5 minimum investment amount. For more information on the minimum investment amount, other E-2 visa requirements, or how to get an E-2 visa, please see the requirements section below.
The E-2 visa USA program allows your family members to accompany you to the United States. Your spouse and children under the age of 21 may apply for an E-2 dependent visa together with you. Your children under 21 can attend school on their E-2 visa, while your spouse is authorized to work for US employers with an E-2 EAD (Employment Authorization Document).
If you have foreign employees with essential skills or in managerial positions whom you would like to relocate to the US, the E-2 visa USA program could be a great option for you. Once your US company is registered as an E-2 business with the local consulate in your country of origin, you can use the E-2 visa USA program to relocate your foreign employees to your US operations.
To qualify for the E-2 visa USA program you must meet all the requirements, which are summarized below:
The E-2 visa USA applicant must be a citizen of a country which has a treaty of friendship, commerce, and navigation with the United States. You may only apply for an E-2 investor visa if you are citizen of such an E-2 treaty country. Please scroll down to see a complete list of all E-2 visa countries.
There is no preset minimum investment amount to qualify for the E-2 visa USA program. Even though there is no required minimum investment amount, the E-2 visa regulations require that the applicant make a substantial investment.
What size of investment is sufficient to meet the E-2 substantial investment amount requirement? To satisfy the requirements, the invested amount must ensure the successful operation of the US enterprise. Generally, US immigration authorities view investments above $100,000 as substantial. However, this is a general guideline and should not be interpreted as an absolute minimum E-2 investment amount. As an experienced E-2 visa lawyer, I have successfully represented E-2 investor visa applicants who were approved with investments below $50,000. In such cases, the business has low startup costs, as is often found in professional service industries.
The E-2 visa requirements also mandate that the invested amount be proportional to the regular startup expenses for the type of business you are commencing in the United States. This means that the type of business in to which you are investing will affect the minimum investment you are required to make to qualify for the E-2 visa USA program. For example, a factory or other manufacturing facility will require a significantly higher minimum investment amount than a consulting business with low startup expenses.
> What is the minimum E-2 visa investment amount for purchasing an existing business?
The E-2 visa USA rules allow for various E-2 investment opportunities. As an E-2 visa lawyer, I am often asked whether the investor can purchase an existing US business? The answer is yes. You can qualify for the E-2 visa USA program by purchasing an already existing business. In such cases, the E-2 visa minimum investment is the cost of purchasing the business. Please note, funds obtained through secured loans or gifts are generally acceptable for E-2 investor visa purposes as they are considered personal funds belonging to the investor. As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services, we will advise you whether your proposed E-2 immigration visa investment amount is substantial. We will also develop a custom-tailored immigration strategy for you and your family.
> What is the minimum E-2 visa investment amount for starting a new business?
Starting a new business is the most common way for an investor to qualify for the E-2 visa USA program. When starting a new E-2 business, the minimum E-2 investment amount is usually the cost of establishing the business to the point where it is operational. You should keep in mind that the minimum investment costs can significantly vary due to differences between various businesses. Please note, according to the E-2 visa requirements, simply depositing funds into a business bank account with an intent to invest in the future is insufficient for showing the E-2 visa USA applicant’s commitment to the business.
Our E-2 visa lawyer services include determining whether your business idea qualifies for an E-2 investor visa and guiding you through all phases of the E-2 immigration visa process, including: investment planning, transaction structuring, and the E-2 visa application.
> E-2 visa USA pitfalls: avoiding passive E-2 investments
A passive investment is any investment that provides financial gains without the E-2 visa USA investor’s active day-to-day involvement in the business. For example, many investors wish to purchase real estate to be rented out for profit. Unfortunately, such an investment will likely not qualify for an E-2 investor visa even if you purchase the properties through a company and hire an employee to perform repairs and maintenance. The E-2 investor visa regulations require the investor’s active involvement in managing and developing the business. To follow the above example, a rental property management business, in which the E-2 investor purchases real properties and has a management team in place which actively leases and maintains rental units, will have a much higher likelihood of approval because such a business requires active day-to-day management of the business. Our experienced E-2 visa lawyer will evaluate whether your proposed E-2 visa USA business qualifies as an active investment and will help you ensure that your proposed E-2 business visa enterprise meets all E-2 visa requirements and rules.
The E-2 visa business cannot be marginal. This means that the E-2 business cannot solely provide a living for the applicant and her family. Based on the E-2 visa requirements the business must grow and generate sufficient income to require the hiring of US workers in the near future. Because of this requirement many E-2 visa USA investors start new ventures or buy distressed businesses which they can overhaul and develop at a significant profit, thereby also satisfying the non-marginality requirement.
If you are planning on buying an existing business as your qualifying E-2 investment, it is very important to consider the company’s current financials. Immigration authorities may consider your E-2 investment marginal if the current business does not earn sufficient income. For example, you may have found a business that employs three employees and has great growth potential, but the financial statements and tax returns show an annual income of only $25,000. The Consular Officer reviewing your E-2 visa application will likely consider your investment in this business to be marginal because of the low profits.
As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we determine whether your proposed E-2 visa investment satisfies the non-marginality requirement and whether your business meets all other E-2 visa requirements and rules.
The E-2 visa USA program requires the investor to be actively in the process of investing or to have already made an investment in the business. To meet the E-2 visa requirements, the investor’s funds must be at a risk of loss and irrevocably committed. Please note, the E-2 investor visa enterprise does not have to be operating during the visa application process. However, to be approved for the E-2 visa USA program, your business needs to be ready to start operating once the E-2 visa is approved.
To qualify for the E-2 visa USA program, the invested funds must indisputably belong to the visa applicant. However, the E-2 visa USA rules permit the investor to use gifts from friends, relatives, or third parties as part of the E-2 investor visa investment. Under the rules, secured personal loans can also be counted as part of the investment.
The E-2 visa requirements also mandate that the investor show the lawful source of the invested funds. As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we will represent you throughout the entire E-2 visa process, from the initial investment transactions through your E-2 business visa USA application, including documenting your control of and the lawful source of your investment funds.
The E-2 visa USA program requires that the investor develop and direct the E-2 business. Although the investor can hire managers to oversee the day-to-day functions of the business, the E-2 investor cannot have an entirely passive role in the E-2 enterprise. Because of requirement, it is helpful to demonstrate how your skills and experience will allow you to successfully develop and direct the E-2 business. Please note, the E-2 visa USA program requires that the investor own at least 50% of the E-2 business.
To qualify for an E-2 investor visa, the applicant must express an intent to depart the United States after expiration of the investor’s visa. Although the E-2 investor visa applicant cannot intend to remain in the United States permanently, the E-2 visa USA rules allow the applicant to extend her visa indefinitely as long as she continues to meet all E-2 visa requirements.
To be eligible for the E-2 visa USA program, you must be a citizen of a country with a treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the United States. Unfortunately, not all countries have such an E-2 treaty with the United States. Some important E-2 country exceptions are China, India, and Vietnam. In Europe, citizens of Hungary and Russia do not qualify for an E-2 investor visa. Citizens of countries lacking a treaty with the United States cannot qualify for the E-2 visa USA program. So if you are wondering “Is India eligible for E-2 visa?” or “Can I apply for E-2 visa USA from India?” then the answer is, unfortunately, “No, India is not eligible for E-2 visa.”
The length of the E-2 investor visa validity varies from country to country. There are two factors that influence the visa validity period: the reciprocity period and the consular officer.
> What is the E-2 reciprocity period?
The E-2 reciprocity period is the maximum period of time for which an E-2 visa USA can be issued. This maximum length of the E-2 visa depends on the Treaty of Trade and Commerce between the United States and the applicant’s country of citizenship. This period may vary between 3 months and 5 years. The validity period represents the amount of time the E-2 immigration visa holder has to enter the United States. If your E-2 business visa is valid for 3 months, you must enter the United States during that 3-month E-2 visa validity period. Please note, the amount of entries allowed on an E-2 visa into the United States also depend on the E-2 treaty between the investor’s country of citizenship and the United States. For example, citizens of Bolivia may only use their E-2 investor visa to enter the United States one (1) time. While citizens of Germany, may use their E-2 investor visa to enter the United States as many times as they wish during the visa validity period.
> What is the E-2 admission period?
The E-2 admission period is the amount of time an E-2 investor visa holder may remain in the United States after entry. It is critical not to confuse this period with the E-2 visa validity period described above. Once you enter the United States on your E-2 investor visa, you will be allowed to remain in the United States for 2 years to direct and develop your US enterprise.
At the end of this 2-year E-2 admission period, you can renew your E-2 visa status with USCIS for an additional 2-year term while remaining in the United States. Instead of renewing with USCIS, if your E-2 visa is still valid at the end of this 2-year period, you may leave the United States and reenter using your valid E-2 visa. Upon reentry you should be admitted for another 2-year term. However, if your E-2 visa has expired when you leave the United States, you will need to renew your E-2 investor visa at a US consulate or embassy abroad and use the newly obtained E-2 visa to enter the United States.
> How can a consular officer impact your E-2 visa validity period?
Your E-2 visa validity period is also affected by the consular officer reviewing your E-2 visa application. The consular officer may issue your E-2 investor visa for the maximum validity period allowed by the reciprocity rules explained above. However, the officer may also decide to issue your E-2 investor visa for a shorter period. There may be various reasons for this, such as the consular officer doubting if you will achieve your goals presented in your E-2 visa USA application.
The table below lists all E-2 countries citizens of which currently qualify under the E-2 investor visa USA program. The table also lists all maximum validity periods (E-2 reciprocity periods) and the number of entries allowed on the E-2 investor visa.
|E-2 Treaty Country||How Long E-2 Visa can be issued for||Number of Entries to the U.S. Permitted|
|*Yugoslavia: Bosnia and Herzegovina||1 Year||Multiple|
|China (Taiwan)||5 Years||Multiple|
|Congo (Brazzaville)||3 Months||One|
|Congo (Kinshasa)||3 Months||Two|
|Costa Rica||5 Years||Multiple|
|*Yugoslavia: Croatia||5 Years||Multiple|
|Czech Republic||5 Years||Multiple|
|Korea (South)||5 Years||Multiple|
|*Yugoslavia: Kosovo||1 Year||Multiple|
|*Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY)||5 Years||Multiple|
|*Yugoslavia: Montenegro||1 Year||Multiple|
|*Yugoslavia: Serbia||1 Year||Multiple|
|Slovak Republic (Slovakia)||2 Years||Multiple|
|*Yugoslavia: Slovenia||5 Years||Multiple|
|Sri Lanka||3 Years||Multiple|
|Trinidad and Tobago||5 Years||Multiple|
|United Kingdom||5 Years||Multiple|
There are two ways to apply for the E-2 visa USA program: (1) in the United States by filing a petition with USCIS or (2) outside the United States by applying at a US consulate or embassy.
If you are currently in the United States and wish to obtain an E-2 investor visa, you must file a change of status petition. You may do so by submitting Form I-129 and supporting documentation with United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). There is no in-person interview process when filing an E-2 visa USA petition with USCIS. If USCIS has additional questions or requires additional documents, the agency will issue a Request for Evidence detailing the required information or documents. It is important to note that you will not be able to speak to the officer reviewing your application at any point in the process. Once your E-2 visa USA change of status petition is approved, you will receive a Form I-797 Approval Notice from USCIS.
An approval of an E-2 change of status petition grants the applicant 2 years of status during which the applicant may reside and develop her E-2 business in the United States. However, an E-2 change of status approval does not grant the applicant an E-2 visa. If you leave the country after your change of status petition is approved, you must obtain an E-2 investor visa at a US consulate or embassy to be able to reenter the United States.
> What is the minimum E-2 visa investment amount for purchasing an existing business?
The E-2 visa processing time with USCIS usually takes up to 6 months depending on USCIS’s case load. USCIS offers a premium processing service for an additional fee of $1,440 which guarantees a response in 15 days.
As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we will assist you with your change of status application with USCIS and guide you through every step of your E-2 visa USA process.
If you apply for an E-2 investor visa outside the United States you have to file your application at a US consulate or embassy. To qualify for the visa, you must submit Forms DS-160 and DS-156E along with supporting documentation showing that you have met the E-2 visa USA requirements. Before being granted an E-2 investor visa, you will be required to attend an in-person interview during which the consular officer will ask questions about your investment.
> What is the minimum E-2 visa investment amount for purchasing an existing business?
The E-2 visa processing time when applying at a consulate outside the United States can significantly vary depending on the particular consulate at which the E-2 visa USA application is filed. At smaller, less busy consular posts, the application process can take as little as 6 weeks, while at larger, busier consulates it can take up to 3 months.
During your E-2 visa interview the consular official will generally take approximately half an hour to review your application. However, if the officer requires additional information to determine whether you meet the E-2 visa requirements, the interview could take much longer. It is best to come prepared for your E-2 visa interview. Please see below some useful tips for your interview:
As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we will assist you with your E-2 visa USA application with a US consulate. We will guide you through every step of the application process and help you prepare for your E-2 visa interview.
A visa allows you to enter the United States. To obtain an E-2 visa, you must apply for an E-2 investor visa at a US consulate or embassy abroad. If approved, an E-2 visa will be placed in your passport. When you arrive in the United States, you will present your visa in your passport to the US customs officer. The officer can permit you to enter the United States based on the visa in your passport. It is best to think of the visa in your passport as an entry document to be used when entering the United States. If you have a multiple entry E-2 visa which is valid for 5 years, you can leave and reenter the United States using your E-2 visa an unlimited amount of time within the 5-year validity window.
Status determines the length of time you are allowed to remain in the US after admission. E-2 investor visa holders are admitted in E-2 status which provides a 2-year admission period. The E-2 visa USA holder may remain in the United States to direct and develop her US business for 2 years. Before the end of this period, the E-2 business visa holder must leave and reenter the United States or apply for an extension of E-2 status with USCIS. For example, a Turkish citizen who holds a 5-year multiple entry E-2 visa, must depart the United States before the end of the 2-year E-2 admission period. Then, when she returns using her 5-year E-2 investor visa, she will be admitted in E-2 status for 2 years again. Every time an E-2 visa holder enters the United States, the maximum admission period in E-2 status is 2 years.
If you apply for an E-2 visa through a change of status, the validity of your new E-2 status is 2 years. The E-2 visa duration granted at a US Consulate may be up to 5 years depending on the country specific reciprocity period. Please see the table above to see the maximum validity period for your country of citizenship.
If you choose to proceed with your E-2 visa renewal in the United States, you need to file a petition to extend your E-2 status with USCIS. If approved, you will be granted a maximum of 2 additional years in E-2 status. If you do not plan to leave the United States, you can apply for an E-2 visa renewal every 2 years indefinitely, as long as you continue to meet all E-2 visa requirements. You should keep in mind that the extension of E-2 status with USCIS will not be valid if you leave the United States. If you depart the United States after obtaining an E-2 status extension from USCIS, you will have to file an E-2 visa USA application at a US consulate to obtain a visa renewal.
As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we will assist you with your E-2 visa renewal application with USCIS and guide you through every step of the process.
To obtain an E-2 visa renewal at a US Consulate abroad, you must file an E-2 visa USA application with the consulate. Unlike an extension of status filed with USCIS, if your E-2 visa renewal application is approved by the consulate, you will be able to travel in and out of the United States during your E-2 visa validity period. You are probably wondering if you should file your E-2 visa renewal application at the same consulate where you filed your initial E-2 visa application. Since the designated consulate will already have a record of your investor visa business with all the relevant information and documentation, it is generally advisable to submit your E-2 visa renewal application at the same consulate where your initial E-2 visa application was granted.
As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we will assist you with your visa renewal application at a consulate and guide you through every step of the E-2 visa renewal process.
An E-2 visa by itself does not lead to a green card. However, an E-2 investor visa can lead to a green card, if certain additional steps are taken by the E-2 investor. Below are two ways the E-2 visa USA process can lead to a green card:
If you continue to invest significant funds into your E-2 business, your total investment may meet the minimum investment requirements for an EB-5 green card. If you have invested a minimum of $900,000 or $1,800,000 depending of the geographic area of your business and hired a minimum of ten US workers, you may qualify for an EB-5 green card. While pursuing your EB-5 investor green card, you may continue to operate your E-2 visa USA business and maintain your E-2 investor status. As an experienced E-2 visa lawyer, I would be happy to evaluate your case to answer the question “Can an E-2 visa lead to green card?” in your case.
Instead of directly investing the minimum investment amount into your own E-2 visa USA business, you can choose to invest in an EB-5 regional center project. This E-2 visa to green card solution offers a more hands-off management approach. However, it comes at a higher cost as the funds invested into the E-2 business cannot be used as part of the EB-5 investment. As an experienced E-2 visa lawyer, I would be happy to answer the question, “Can an E-2 visa lead to green card?” in your case and help you decide on the best green card option for your family.
One of the main advantages of the E-2 visa USA program is that the spouse of the investor visa holder is eligible to apply for an E-2 visa dependent work permit. This E-2 visa dependent work permit is known as an E-2 EAD (Employment Authorization Card). Once the E-2 EAD is approved, your spouse will also be able to apply for an E-2 visa social security number. With the EAD, your spouse will be able to work for almost all US employers. For instance, E-2 visa USA dependent spouses may work as an employee in the E-2 business visa enterprise, or could start their own business, or work for another US company or organization. Please note, your spouse cannot apply for an E-2 visa dependent work permit before you enter the United States in E-2 status.
To apply for an E-2 visa dependent work permit you need to file a Form I-765 along with all required evidence with USCIS. As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services we offer assistance in preparing and submitting all the necessary documentation for an E-2 visa dependent work permit.
Once your E-2 visa and your spouse’s E-2 dependent work permit are approved, you will be eligible to apply for an E-2 visa social security number. To apply for E-2 visa social security number you need to file a Form SS-5 with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
In some cases, the E-2 visa USA program may offer tax advantages for the investor compared to an EB-5 investor green card. The E-2 visa may be a great choice for investors who will be physically present in the United States for less than 122 days per year. In such cases, the investor may avoid being classified as a tax resident of the United States. This would mean that the E-2 investor does not have to pay tax on her global income, just the income earned in the United States. International taxation is a complex subject. We highly advise you to seek the advice of an experienced tax professional before choosing the E-2 investor visa program for any tax advantages it may offer.
The E-2 visa USA program is a great solution for relocating your foreign employees to the United States. Such E-2 employee visas enjoy the same benefits as E-2 investor visas, including eligibility for spouses and children to accompany the E-2 employee to the United States. The spouse of an E-2 employee visa holder can apply for an E-2 visa dependent work permit and may work in the United States, while the children of an E-2 employee visa holder may attend school in the United States. To qualify for an E-2 employee visa, the employee must have the same nationality as the owner of the E-2 business.
An E-2 enterprise can file an E-2 employee visa application for an essential skill or specialist employee. Such an E-2 specialist visa applicant must demonstrate that she has specialized and unique skills or knowledge that are essential to the success of the E-2 visa USA business. Some of the points immigration officers consider, are the salary offered for the position, how much training and experience is required to gain the expertise, whether there are US workers with the same expertise, and how long the US business needs the E-2 specialist visa employee’s services. Generally, it is easier to obtain an E-2 specialist visa for shorter durations by showing that the applicant has essential skills needed for the company’s start-up process or for the training of US employees who will eventually perform these duties at the US enterprise. To obtain an E-2 specialist visa for a longer duration, the applicant will need to prove that the US enterprise needs these special skills continuously and that no US worker can be trained to perform the specialist’s position. As an experienced E-2 visa lawyer, I can help your organization apply for an E-2 specialist visa for your essential skill employees.
The E-2 enterprise may also apply for an E-2 manager visa on behalf of its foreign employees. To qualify for an E-2 manager visa, the applicant must demonstrate that she will have a high-level position within the US business. For example, if the manager visa applicant has control over key functions of the business, then she is likely a good candidate for an E-2 manager visa. To demonstrate the managerial nature of the visa applicant’s position, the E-2 enterprise may provide company organizational charts, job descriptions, and salary information. As part of our E-2 visa lawyer services, we will evaluate whether your employees qualify for an E-2 manager visa and help you devise the best strategy for relocating your managers to your US operation.
Both E1 and E-2 visas are reserved for citizens of treaty countries, however there are significant differences between the two treaty country visas. First, although both E1 and E-2 visa USA programs require that the applicant be a citizen of a treaty country, the list of eligible treaty countries differs between the E1 and E-2 visa USA programs. The E1 visa program has fewer eligible countries compared to the E-2 visa USA program.
The main difference between the E1 and E-2 visa USA programs is that the E1 visa USA is reserved for traders from treaty countries to engage in substantial trade between the US and their home country. The term “trade” may refer to goods or services. Similarly, to the E-2 visa USA program, “substantial trade” is not defined as a particular fixed or minimum trade amount. Although there is no minimum or fixed amount of trade that is required, generally it is important that there be a continuous flow of several transactions over a period of time. Also, the E1 visa requirements mandate that “principal trade” occur between the US and the treaty country, that is trade between the treaty country and the United States must equal more than 50% of the total trade of the E1 business.
The E-2 visa USA program, on the other hand, is specifically reserved for investors from treaty countries who wish to invest substantial amount in a US enterprise. The program requires there to be an actual capital investment and the investor must be actively involved in developing and directing the business.