What is an E-2 Visa?
Individuals with significant funds to invest can come to the U.S with an E-2 visa to set up a business, practice, or office.
Although the E-2 visa does not provide residency (not a Green Card), one of the significant advantages is the ability to extend the E-2 visa indefinitely or for as long as the business concerned is viable.
Investment Requirements for E-2 Visa
As a general guide, we recommend the E-2 route to people with a minimum of $100,000 – $200,000 USD to invest. In exceptional cases, USCIS will consider applications with amounts as low as $50,000 USD.
Investors can borrow money for the E-2 visa, but cannot secure the loan with the companies’ assets, or USCIS will determine that the lender is the actual investor.
A key component to securing an E-2 visa is a business plan complying with the Matter of Ho lawsuit.
The individual investor must demonstrate that their sole purpose for entering the U.S. is to run or develop an enterprise.
Evidence showing the investor’s business development intentions can be owning a minimum of 50% of the business or occupying a significant managerial or leadership position that gives them operational control.
Showing the risk of capital loss is necessary to qualify as an “investment.” The investor must also show that the funds have not been generated through illegal means, either directly or indirectly.
(That’s why you can’t invest in real estate.)
Any investment must not be viewed as marginal, meaning that it must have a good chance of generating sufficient income to provide for the visa holder and any family within five years of entering the U.S.
In addition, the business must have a dedicated premise. E-2 companies cannot operate from the investor’s home.
Both new and existing companies can qualify for E-2 investments. Individual investors can’t use assets for the sole purpose of creating a job for themselves. Our experience with these applications suggests that the business must employ at least three to five other people.
Eligible for permanent residency?
If you have at least $500,000USD to invest, you may qualify for an EB-5 green card.
E-2 Visa Processing Time, Length of Stay & Extensions
E-2 visas are valid for up to two years, with the possibility of an unlimited number of two-year extensions.
The length of time it takes to get an E-2 visa depends on the consulate you are applying to and can take anywhere from two weeks to five months to complete. After the initial review, the consulate will set up an interview with the applicant.
E-2 premium processing is available for a $1,225 fee, and USCIS will approve, deny or issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) within fifteen days. If USCIS issues a RFE, they will make a second decision within 15 days of submitting the additional evidence.
Note that all persons covered by E-2 visas are permitted to travel in and out of the U.S. The primary visa holder will automatically get a two-year extension granted on re-entry to the country.
However, this does not apply to family members, who are encouraged to carefully monitor how long they can stay and apply for any E-2 extensions on time.
E-2 Employee Requirements
Like the E-1 “Treaty Trader” visa the E-2 visa may extend to other personnel provided they meet the following conditions:
- Occupy supervisory or executive positions.
- Are Essential to the running of the business.
- Meet the legal definition of “employee.”
- Come from the same country as the E-2 applicant.
Family of E-2 Visa Holders
The E-2 visa may also cover the applicant’s spouse and other immediate family members (i.e., unmarried children under 21). The spouse may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), giving them the right to work in the United States. (Family need not come from the same country as the E-2 holder.)
Alternatives to the E-2 Visa
The EB1-1 “Extraordinary Ability” visa, is available to applicants who can prove exceptional and sustained acclaim in their particular field. The EB-2 (employment-based exceptional ability) or EB-3 (skilled, professional, or other worker) are other green card options worth investigating.
E-2 applicants may qualify for the E-1 (Treaty Trader) visa. Many E-2 visa treaty countries also have E-1 visa treaties with the U.S. Both E-1 and E-2 visas can have unlimited extensions, but the E-1 does not require a substantial financial investment.
If you have $500,000 USD or more to invest, consider going directly for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Green Card.
Contact OnlineVisas to arrange your visa strategy session, where an E-2 visa attorney will take you through every step of the process.
November 17, 2020
May 20, 2020