Getting an E2 Visa on a Small Budget
If you are like so many of our clients, you may be wondering: can I get an E2 visa on a small budget? The answer to this question is, it depends. After all, what is your budget, and do you consider small? I know this answer is not very satisfying. But so much of this depends on what you are trying to do and if you can justify your “small budget.” For example, a restaurant in Orlando, Florida will cost a lot more than the same restaurant in a small town two hours south of the city. The same restaurant will also cost significantly more in New York City than Orlando, Florida.
First, lets’ take a closer look at the E2 visa and what it is.
What is An E2 Visa?
The E2 Investor Visa allows foreign investors from qualifying treaty countries to live and work in the United States. You, as the investor, can invest an amount of money in a qualifying business in the United States and the United States will let you stay in the country with an E2 visa to develop your enterprise. There is more good news. Your spouse and children under 21 years of age can all come with you. Your spouse can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (“work permit”) and work for any employer and your kids can attend public schools. The visa lasts up to 5 years, but you can renew indefinitely as long as you are still managing your business. Overall, the E2 Investor Visa is a great visa and we really like it!
Whenever a client comes to us looking to get an E2 visa, we always ask the following questions:
- What is your budget?
- What is your type of business?
- Where is your business going to be located?
- Where is the money for your business coming from?
- Do you have the experience to run it?
I use the answers to those questions to determine if my client’s business meets the following legal requirements for an E2 Investor Visa.
- Your investment must be substantial enough to ensure the smooth running of the business.
- Your investment must be in a real operating company.
- Your investment may not be marginal, it must generate more income than just to provide for the investor and family, it must have a significant economic impact in the US.
- You must have control of the funds and the investment must be at risk.
- You, the investor, will come to the US only to develop and run the company.
How Much Should I Invest?
If you want an E2 Visa, you must make a “substantial” investment. But the law does not say how much money, nor does it state a minimum amount. As an immigration lawyer, I often recommend my clients to be prepared to invest about $100,000. However, we have clients who have gotten an E2 Visa with as little as $65,000 (for a cleaning company) and as high as $750,000 (for a land development business). Those respective amounts made sense for their type of businesses, their locations, and projections. Their businesses met the legal requirements above and they were approved for an E2 Visa.
A substantial investment is defined as an amount sufficient to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise. This is measured by a proportionality test that compares the total amount invested in the business with the cost of establishing a viable business of the same nature OR the amount of money needed to buy an existing successful business. This proportionality test is how the US government determines if your investment amount is substantial. That investment must be at risk. In other words, you are not just faking it in order to get an E2 visa. It’s also doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you have. You can have working capital in your bank account and a plan to use it. This working capital can also count as part of your investment.
Working With a Small Budget
Thus, if you want an E2 Visa but you have a “small” budget, then start a business that truly does not need a large investment. This is often the case with businesses that offer services like consulting, cleaning, beauty services, and such, versus a business that offers products, restaurants, merchandise stores, or manufacturing plants. Nevertheless, don’t think that you can cut corners by working out of your home office. One thing that every E2 business must have is a “physical location.” That means you will be operating your business out of an office, a storefront, or another location that you either purchase or rent.
You must also keep in mind that you should create some new jobs. After all, your investment must not be marginal. It must generate more income than just to provide for the investor and his or her family (see #3 above). When it comes to the number of jobs your business should create, there also isn’t a magic number. It will also depend on what makes sense for your specific type of business and investment
Do I Qualify?
To find out if your country of origin qualifies for an E2 Visa, click here.
We highly recommend seeking the help of an immigration lawyer to analyze your specific situation. At Terra Immigration, we have helped investors from all over the world obtain E2 visas. It is important that you work with a professional that can give you an honest assessment and help you achieve your objectives. If you have any questions, you can speak to Attorney Ileana Rivera or Ingrid Perez. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 407-818-1244.