In this article we will discuss how to get a E-2 Investor Visa for the United States. You can obtain an E-2 visa for yourself, your family and your key employees. E-2 visa allows you to reside and work in the United States by investing a certain amount of money in a US enterprise.
Steps to get E-2 Visa
Steps to get an E-2 Investor Visa include the following:
1) Decide which type of business you want to invest in: either create a new business from scratch or buy an existing one. If you wish to start your own business, you will need to find a commercial space suitable for your business operations. Lease agreements in the United States are extensive and very complicated documents ranging from 60 to 100 pages, and for this reason it is crucial to get legal representation for the review and negotiation of this type of contracts. Same goes if you want to buy an existing business: you will counsel guidance to negotiate and sign a purchase agreement, perform your due diligence on the business you wish to purchase, and then go to the closing.
2) Set up your business entity, LLC or Corporation, to protect your personal assets from liabilities. Make sure your personal assets are protected when you sign a commercial agreement and you start your business operations. Conducting your business as a corporation or a limited liability company will shield your personal assets from claims and lawsuits brought by creditors of your company. Choose carefully the type of business entity that best suits your needs with the assistance of a business attorney or a certified public accountant. For a quick recap of the most significant differences between a corporation and a LLC, please read our articles: US Business Entities. Corporations and US Business Entities. LLC vs. Corporation.
3) Set up your US corporate bank account. You will need this for step #4.
4) If you are starting your own new business, move the funds (generally $80,000 to $100,000 minimum) from your personal or business account in your country to your corporate bank account in the United States and start spending money for US business related expenses. All monies spent in connection with your business operations, such as rent and security deposits for a commercial space or an office, constructions and build-out, equipment and furniture, lawyers, accountants, architects, expeditors and other professional consultants, are qualifying expenses toward the relevant investment.
5) If you are acquiring an existing business, transfer your money to the seller to buy the whole company or a chunk of it. However, make sure that you purchase at the least the 50% of the target company to acquire control as per the E-2 Visa guidelines. Purchasing at least 50% of the company is crucial to meet the nationality requirement as better described below.
6) Prepare a 5 years business plan to show that your new company will be self sufficient within 5 years and will not have the sole purpose of earning a living for the E-2 visa beneficiaries and their families, but will also have a significant impact on the US economy such as creating jobs and paying taxes, among others (see below).
7) Put together and file the application with the US embassy in your country. E-2 visa applications are dense of technicalities and for this reason you should secure the assistance of an immigration attorney. Even a clerical mistake in your application may result in substantial delays or the disapproval of your petition.
E-2 visa key features
E-2 visas allow a national of a treaty country (treaty investor) to work and reside in the United States upon a substantial investment of capital in a United States business enterprise.
E-2 visa may be granted if:
- The treaty investor is a national of a treaty country
- The treaty investor has made a substantial investment of capital in a legitimate U.S. business enterprise
In order to get your E-2 Visa for the United States you first need to prove that you are a national of a treaty country. For individual owners, it’s easy to prove they are a national of a treaty country by enclosing a copy of the individual’s passport to the visa application. However, business is generally conducted under the umbrella of a corporation or a limited liability company. For this reason, it becomes crucial to understand how the nationality requirement works in case of a business entity.
E-2 visa regulations set forth that a business entity, although formed in the United States, is deemed to be a national of a treaty country if at least 50% of its ultimate individual members or shareholders are nationals of such country. The applicants are required to prove they are a national of a treaty country and can do so by locating the ultimate individual shareholders at the very end of the company’s chain of ownership and providing the US Consulate with evidence of their citizenship.
For instance if the investor is a US entity wholly owned by a UK company, with at least 50% Italian ultimate individual shareholders, the US entity will be deemed to hold Italian nationality. The Italian shareholders (or their Italian employees) will be then eligible to obtain an E-2 visa as long as the other requirements are satisfied.
The Investment Required to Support a E-2 Visa Application
If you want to get an E-2 Visa for the US, you have to invest a certain amount of money in a US viable enterprise.
Definition of Investment: The E-2 treaty investor should contribute capital or other assets to a U.S. business entity engaged in a commercial activity with the goal of generating a profit. Such investment should be put irrevocably at risk, meaning that the investor should not be able to recover the investment if the business is not successful.
Substantial Investment: The amount of capital invested by the E-2 Visa beneficiary should be sufficient to fund and sustain the type of business the E-2 treaty investor is seeking to operate. It should be proportioned to the business project the investor intends to pursue. There is no minimum amount set for the investment, but applications for E-2 visa status will most likely be disapproved if the invested amount is less than $80,000 – $100,000.
Source of funds: The funds or assets that constitute the investment must not derive from criminal activities. The E-2 visa application requires proving the legitimate source of funds by enclosing foreign bank statements of the funds and their transfer to the US enterprise.
No Marginal Enterprises
The E-2 Visa for the United States cannot be obtained if the enterprise in which you decide to invest is considered “marginal”. An enterprise is deemed to be marginal if it has the capacity to generate income to solely ensure the living of the beneficiary and his / her dependents. It may not be considered marginal if it’s capable of significantly impacting the American economy. Some examples of impact are: generating new employment opportunities, paying taxes, and providing a source of income for other related business entities.
Requirements for E-2 Treaty Investor’s Employees
Treaty investor’s employees may be eligible for the E-2 visa status may if:
- The employee holds the same nationality as the treaty investor
- The employee is employed in an executive or managerial position or in a position that requires special skills or qualifications
Status of Treaty Investor and Its Employees
A Treaty Investor or a Treaty Investor’s employee may work exclusively for the company or its parent or its subsidiary. The relationship between the parent and the subsidiary company should be well established.
E-2 Visa Duration and Length of Stay
E-2 Visas for the United States have a 5 year duration and may be renewed indefinitely as long as the above described requirements, as to nationality of the company and investment, are still being met. The initial period of stay is a maximum of 2 years. The stay can be automatically extended for periods of up to 2 years by departing from and returning to the United States.
E-2 Visa Holder’s Family Members
Once obtained a E-2 Visa for the United States, investors and their employees may be followed by their family members, i.e. spouses and underage children. The spouse of an E-2 may obtain authorization to work in the United States without limitations by filing form I-765, while the children may only be enrolled in school. Typically, family members are granted the same period of stay as the treaty investor or their employees.
For general information regarding other types of visas for the United States, click here to read our general immigration page.
For specific information regarding the E-1 Treaty Investor Visa, you may read the following article: How to Get E-1 Visa for the United States.
Do you need legal assistance in obtaining a E-2 Visa for the United States or any other type of US Visa? Please, fill out the form below and we will be back in touch with you soon.