The E-2 VISA

The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling, while inside the United States. This visa must generally be renewed every five years, but there is no limit to how many times one can renew. The investment must be "substantial".

To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
  • If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. 
  • These owners must be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty investor status.  If the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty investors.

E2 visa registration applications should demonstrate that:

  • There has been and will be a substantial capital investment in the US. There is no specific cash threshold defined, but $40,000 is probably an absolute minimum, and any investment below $100,000 would need a very strong case to support it.
  • Risk Capital has been Committed; the investment must entail some risk to the investor (it may not be all in the form of unguaranteed credit). At a minimum, there must be a long-term lease of an office in the US
  • The investor will control his/her investment. In this respect control is considered to entail owning over 50% of the US enterprise.
  • The cash invested is not marginal when compared to the total investment. In general, unless it is common to the industry to have higher amounts of 'leveraging' (such as in the property industry), 51% of the investment should be in the form of cash equity. Where debt is secured against other assets of the investor, it is considered to be 'at risk', and may be considered as part of the equity invested.
  • The enterprise is (or will be) active. In order to be 'Directing and Developing' their investment, the investor will require an enterprise that involves active management.
  • US workers are (or will be) employed. The treaties envisage more than just creating a job for the principal investor, but there is no requirement to employ a particular number of US citizens. Obviously, employment of large numbers of US citizens would be viewed very favorably.
  • The enterprise, or its principal investor, has a past history of successful trading.
  •  That the 'investor' has sufficient acumen to direct and develop the investment enterprise.
  • That the principal investor, and any other E2 staff, are able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E2 status.

Period of Stay

Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.  All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E-2 visas in order to accompany the principal alien. The duration of visa for a family member who is of a different nationality to the principal is determined by any reciprocal agreements between their country of nationality and the US. Only if there is no such reciprocal agreement will the duration be the same as the principal applicant. Dependents may seek employment in the US by applying for employment authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Children under 21 cannot apply for work; only the spouse of the E-2 holder can.

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