If you’re trying to decide whether to apply for an E2 work visa (USCIS.gov), you should know about the investor requirements and guidelines before you start. According to USCIS, an E2 investment involves an investor placing capital (assets or funds) at risk commercially with a goal of earning a profit. The investment may be for buying an existing business or establishing a new professional venture.
We’ll cover the requirements for investors on the E2 visa and other qualifications to be aware of. Immigration law can be complex, so seeking advice from an immigration attorney is always advisable.
Benefits of an E2 Treaty Investor Visa
An E2 visa is for non-immigrant foreign entrepreneurs from nations with a Treaty of Trade and Commerce agreement with the U.S. The E2 visa gives a foreign investor the ability to go to the United States and work based on their investment in an enterprise. An E2 visa allows:
- You to travel to and from the United States
- You to legally work for an investment vehicle company in the United States
- You to stay with an unlimited 2-year extension on a prolonged basis (while you meet the qualifications for the E2 visa)
- You to be accompanied by your spouse, relatives, and dependents younger than 21
- Your spouse work while they’re living in the U.S.
- Your dependents attend U.S. universities, colleges, and schools without needing to apply for a student visa
Keep in mind that E2 are only available to nationals of certain countries with U.S. investment treaties, and that you may only work for self-owned businesses or specific employers that will be your sponsor for the visa. E2 visas will only be approved for a 2-year period, which can make the extension and application process slow.
Requirements for E2 Visa Investors
The following documents are required for every E2 Visa application:
- Valid passport
- DS-160 form
- Proof of a source of income
- Proof of intent to return to country of origin
- One standard passport photograph
The passport must not expire for a minimum of 6 months after the applicants intended period of stay in the United State. For DS-160 forms, each applicant must submit an individual form, even if multiple applicants are on the same passport.
The minimum investment requirement for the E2 visa mandates that you must be investing in a “bona fide enterprise,” otherwise you won’t qualify. Immigration authorities define a bona fide enterprise as a real, active entrepreneurial or commercial undertaking that provides goods or services to earn profit.
Make a Substantial Investment
Your investment must be significant enough to ensure that the enterprise can operate successfully. Some investments under $100,000 qualify, but in most cases, your reserves and investment capital should be over $100,000. You can show that your investment is substantial by providing evidence of business bank statements and other financial information. You may also want to put a business plan together to show your projected success.
Below is some evidence you may give to show that your business meets these requirements:
- Lease agreement
- Escrow documents
- Business contracts
- Business licenses
- Tax return documents
- Financial statements
- Business organizational chart
- Customer/vendor agreements
- Payroll summaries or quarterly wage reports
- Employer Identification Number assignment notice
- Ad/telephone directory listings, utility bills, and bank statements
You Must Control the Funds
To qualify for the E2 visa, the investor must be committed to their investment and be at risk of losing funds if their enterprise or business is unsuccessful. If you’re buying a business that already exists, you should have knowledge about the company and its counterparts so you can reach an educated conclusion of how successful you expect it to be.
Your Enterprise Must Offer Tangible Services or Goods
Your investment for the E2 visa must be a legitimate operation, meaning it provides a tangible service or good. Idle or speculative investments like undeveloped land or real estate will not qualify, while medical offices, retail stores, or restaurants should qualify.
Citizenship from a Treaty Country
To qualify for an E2 visa, the investor must have a nationality from a “treaty country.” These include Australia, Bulgaria, Honduras, Norway, Thailand, Tunisia, Mongolia, Georgia, Finland, Romania, the United Kingdom, Spain, Senegal, and many others. Keep in mind, you must be a legal citizen of one of these nations (simply maintaining permanent residency isn’t enough) to fit the requirements for the E2 visa. You must have a current passport from one of the treaty nations, but you don’t have to currently reside there.
You Must be Going to the United States to Direct and Develop Your Enterprise
If you aren’t the enterprise’s principal investor, you must be employed in a highly specialized, executive, or supervisory skill capacity. Ordinary unskilled and skilled workers will not be eligible as the government won’t give you the E2 visa if they don’t think you have an essential role to play with the enterprise.
You must prove that you’ll direct and develop the investment enterprise in question by showing that you own at least half of the enterprise or possess operational control through a corporate device or managerial position.
Is an Employee Eligible for the E2 Visa?
An investor’s employee must meet the following requirements to qualify for a E2 Visa:
- Fit the U.S. legal code definition of an “employee”
- Have citizenship in the same treaty nation as the investor
- Be necessary for the business endeavor to be fulfilled
An example of being necessary to fulfillment of the business endeavor: an executive or manager that has specialized knowledge necessary for the development or operation of the enterprise.
Do I Need a Business Plan to Get an E2 Visa?
The USCIS will want to see proof that your enterprise will be good for the U.S. economy and create jobs. While a business plan isn’t an official requirement for the E2 visa, it’s best if you can submit your E2 evidence along with a comprehensive business plan. Showing this will make it clear that your plan is likely to succeed and that you have experience in the field.
What to Do if You Need Help with an E2 Visa
Applying for a visa can be labor-intensive and complex, so consulting an immigration attorney with experience in this area is helpful. They can assist you in gathering the necessary documentation for your case. If you don’t meet the requirements for an E2 visa, an experienced legal professional can help you find other potential visa options that suit your needs better. Filing in a timely nature is recommended, since some types of visas have a fixed allotment given out each year.