The E2 visa, also known as the E2 investor’s visa, allows foreign nationals who hold certain nationalities to live and work in the United States through a qualifying investment. The E2 visa holder is also known as the “principal investor” of the company. It is a non-immigrant visa; this means that the E2 visa does not lead to a green card, or permanent U.S. residency.
The E2 visa requirements are as follows:
- The principal investor must have the nationality from an E2 visa treaty country. Dual citizens also qualify. For example, if you are a Brazilian national who also has an Italian citizen, you qualify for an E2 visa. You can click here to see the full list of E2 visa countries.
- You must have invested or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a real enterprise.
- The money you invested must be “at-risk”. At-risk means that you actively spent the investment funds in your business. Loans secured with the enterprise’s investment assets are not considered “at-risk.”
- The principal investor must intend to enter the United States to direct and develop the business. As an E2 visa holder, you must own and control at least 50% of the business.
- Your investment must not be marginal. Marginal means that your business must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living for you and your family.
- The investment must have a significant economic impact in the United States. This generally means that your investment must create new jobs.
- The investment funds must be traceable. You must show the U.S. government that you obtained the investment funds by legitimate means. The investment funds can be obtained through employment, sale of an asset, a gift, or other legitimate forms.
- If the E2 visa applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must work in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.
How many employees am I required to hire for the E2 visa?
The law does not define the minimum number of employees you must hire. This number depends on the type of business you choose. For example, a large restaurant needs significantly more employees than a coffee shop.
How much is the E2 visa Fee?
Visa fees are currently $205.00 per person. The investor pays, as well as the spouse and children under the age of 21. They all pay the same rate.
Do I need a company oversees?
No. The principal investor is not required to have a company overseas to apply for the E2 visa. However, the principal investor must maintain ties to his or her home country.
Can I get an E2 visa by buying an existing business?
Yes. Investors can purchase an existing business or start a new business enterprise. Investors who wish to buy an existing business are encouraged to buy a financially stable business. We encourage our clients to seek professional financial advice to avoid risks.
Are there geographical limitations for the business?
No. The business can be located anywhere in the United States.
Can the E2 visa holder sell and open another company?
No. The E2 visa investor must come to the United States for the sole purpose of developing and managing the E2 business.
Individuals typically apply for an E2 visa directly to the Consulate or Embassy, where they will have the interview. This process is called the “consular process.” The consular process allows the E2 visa applicant to appear for an interview relatively quickly. Once the visa is approved, the E2 visa holder and dependents have their passports stamped with the E2 visa. The visa allows them to immediately enter the U.S. as E2 visa holders.
The E2 visa applicant must complete Form DS-156E to apply for an E2 visa. The applicant and each family member applying for the E2 visa must also submit a Form DS-160 per person and pay the applicable visa fees.
The processing times depend on the Embassy or Consulate, where the E2 visa interview takes place. However, a complete and accurate application package requires some time to prepare. The package must be complete before the application for the visa is submitted.
The other option is a “change of status” through USCIS while in the U.S. This route usually takes significantly longer than the consular process. Since USCIS receives a large number of applications, their processing times are generally 7-10 months to change status in the United States.
An applicant wishing to pursue a change of status must submit Form I-539 Application to Change Nonimmigrant Status, Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, plus the E2 visa supporting documents and pay the applicable USCIS fees. If the change of status is granted, USCIS will require the renewal of the E2 visa every two years and payment of the applicable fees. The USCIS will mail the investor an approval letter; however, the E2 visa will not be stamped in the passport.
The United States has kept a strong and robust economy, which investors find appealing. The E2 visa is also generally less stringent than other investor’s visas. Applicants have the flexibility to spend significantly less money than other investment visa options. Since there is no minimum investment requirement, it is very desirable for investors. However, the amount of investment must be enough to establish, develop, and operate a profitable business that meets the criteria above.
Can my family group get an E2 visa?
The E2 visa allows investors to bring their spouses and children under the age of 21 to the United States. After entering the U.S. with the E2 visa, the investor’s spouse can submit Form I-765 with the USCIS to apply for the work authorization. Children can attend public school. In some states, children may qualify for state tuition at state universities up to age 21. However, children do not qualify for work authorization.
How long does the E2 visa Last?
The E2 visa expires in 5 years. However, E2 visa holders can stay in the United States for a maximum of 2 years after entry. Every 2 years, the E2 visa holders must leave the United States, even for a day, and reenter. Upon reentry, the E2 visa holders receive a new 2-year period of stay.
Can I change the E2 visa for a Green Card later?
The E2 visa itself does not lead to a green card. However, E2 visa holders can explore other visa options to obtain permanent residency.
How Terra Immigration Partners can help?
Our experienced immigration attorneys have handled numerous E2 visa application packages for investors from all over the world. We guide our clients throughout the entire process until the visa is approved. In addition, our office has a reliable network of professionals that can assist our clients with all their business-related needs. The professional includes accountants, business brokers, business attorneys, and other professionals. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and can speak to our clients in their language.