The E-2 Treaty Investor visa allows the investor to live and work in the US to direct and develop the business, and allows entry of Executive, Management and Essential skills employees. In larger businesses management and executive level employees may be sent to the US instead of the owners of the business. Employees that are also nationals of the same E-2 visa Country as the investor may also qualify for an E-2 visa. The E-2 visa can continue to be extended indefinitely as long as the business continues in the US.
There is no quota for E-2 visas and they are much cheaper than the EB5 Immigrant Investor Green Card. The investment necessary to qualify for E-2 Treaty Investor status varies and there is no set minimum. For consultancy businesses, for example software businesses, this could be tens of thousands of dollars or less in some cases. However, for smaller investments to register the business as an E-2 business can be more difficult.
When you apply for E-2 registration of a business you need to be in the process of investing money. Unless an escrow arrangement is possible, you should show that you have made a substantial investment before applying. An escrow arrangement is possible in some circumstances. For example, if you are buying an existing business money could be held in escrow to only be invested if you are granted an E-2 visa. You should have realistic plans to establish and fund the business. Usually, the qualifying E-2 visa business should eventually create employment for US citizens and residents of the US.
Spouses and children of E-2 Visa holders are also allowed to apply for an E-2 Visa. Generally, they are granted the same period of stay as the principal visa holder. Spouses are permitted to work. However children under 21 are not permitted to work but can study under the E-2 Visa. After reaching the age of 21, they need to find another visa category to stay in the US.
The E-2 visa minimum investment requirement is that you invest in a bona fide enterprise. By failing to do this, your petition will not qualify. A bona fide enterprise is defined by the immigration authorities as “a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit”.
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that your business is bona fide includes:
To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor must:
Generally, in an immigration interview, they will ask you questions about why you are qualified for the visa. An E-2 is no different, so you should be ready to explain why you meet the requirements for an E-2 visa. So, you should start by knowing all of the application materials that you submitted. It is a good idea to prepare a copy of these materials and bring them with you for reference.
Standard questions that will be asked will stem from the application materials. Basically, the examiner will review your file and application materials beforehand and then the interview is a chance for the examiner to ask any questions that he or she may have about your application materials.
You’ll probably be questioned about your business plan and growth strategies. It is likely that they will ask you about your financial projections because that is the purpose behind an E-2 visa. So, again, it is a good idea to know these materials. But remember that these things should all be prepared in advance so you shouldn’t stress about it at the time of the interview. You should be able to explain your business plan at this point.
Another common question area relates to anything on the application that needs to be explained. If you have a copy of your application materials, you can look over them to see if there is anything that may need to be explained to an outsider. If so, it is likely that you will be asked about it so you should be prepared for that.
In general, this interview is just your chance to talk with the examiner about your application and if your application is proper, then you should have nothing to worry about. I would suggest that you hire an attorney to help you through this process, from preparing the materials for the application to preparing for the interview. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to navigate the process and make sure that you have all that you need to qualify.
The E-2 visa is a reciprocity trade agreement between the US and 80 other countries in the world. It is not an immigration visa, it is an investor’s visa where visa holders are bringing foreign capital to the US and creating jobs for US workers in exchange of which they receive the right to live in the US and operate their business. As long as the business exists and the E-2 visa holder is in the US legally (meaning they have renewed the visa) it is unlikely that the current administration will deport E-2 visa holders.
Future offerings would have to be limited so that majority ownership of the company was always by nationals of the same country as the E-2 employee. If this were not to be the case, the terms of the visa would be violated and the employee would be out of status (though how the USCIS would know is unclear). There are no restrictions on ownership of companies filing for H-1B or employment green cards, so maybe those would be an option.
Yes you can convert your B-2 status to E-2 status inside of the United States. The process of doing this is called a “change of status.” To do this you file a form with USCIS and submit several documents demonstrating that you satisfy the E-2 requirements.
Additionally, you should be in the U.S. for at least 90 days before submitting a change of status application to avoid a presumption that you entered the U.S. with your B2 visa for the purpose of doing a change of status.
It is highly important to discuss all of these considerations with a qualified immigration lawyer to ensure that your case is handled properly.
The pitfalls in starting a business with an E-2 are the same as the pitfalls in starting a business without an E-2 because once you get the E-2, you are essentially just running a business.
Now, there are pitfalls specific to running a business on a visa such as loss of the visa upon failure of the business. That is an extra risk that a non-visa business owner does not take on. To go a little further, an E-2 visa holder has permission to work in the US only for the business for which it was granted the visa. So, if the business doesn’t work out and the visa holder can no longer work for that business, he or she will lose the visa and will no longer be able to work in the US.
Another risk that an E-2 visa holder takes is that the initial investment must be made before applying for the visa. So, in theory, there is a chance that an applicant could invest money in the business and then not obtain a visa to be able to then come work for the business making the investment somewhat meaningless. This risk can be pretty easily guarded against though by talking with an immigration attorney before making the investment to make sure that everything else is in line and that you will qualify for the visa.
All that said, E-2 visas are usually pretty easily renewable as long as your business stays in operation. The initial visa will usually be granted for 5 years and you will have to subsequently renew it in intervals of 2 years. Again, this renewal process is usually pretty painless if you can show that your business is still in operation.
If you are applying for an E-2 visa and plan to start your own company, here’s what the process looks like Step-by-Step:
Yes, but it all boils down to how the franchise is presented to the immigration officer. Some franchises may be easy to get approved, while others can be quite intricate.
This visa application’s core lies in the E2 visa business plan, where the case is made for this business visa. We can help you find franchises that have a successful track record for E2 visas.
If you are in the US in valid B-1 status, it would be possible to file a Change of Status application with USCIS to change your status from B-1 to E-2. However, if and when you travel out of the country, you will need to submit a complete E-2 application to the US Consulate and obtain a visa stamp before your return. In some consulates, the processing time of the application can exceed 6 weeks. Additionally, the US Consulate will give little to no deference to the USCIS decision.
You also can have an E-2 visa application submitted to the US Consulate while you are still in the US in B-1 status. However, you must be prepared to explain your activities in the US during your interview. The Consular Officer may want to make sure you were not working while you were here.
One of the most crucial aspects is the requirement on the “Business may not be marginal”. With this, you have to demonstrate that you and your family can live of the profits of this business. Also, we recommend not to put less than $100.000 of your funds in the business.
Moreover, you should be the “majority funder” of the business, meaning that you cannot dilute your capital and ownership below 51%. If you invest $100.000, you cannot accept more than $99.000 in external funding.
If you plan to start a regular business, let’s say a Gelato shop near the beach in Southern California, those numbers may be just about right to get your business going.
But if you plan to start an innovative Startup, to obtain Venture Capital flowing in and to dilute your ownership, than you should consider petitioning for a National Interest Waiver.
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate your intent to remain for a limited time includes:
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate social and economic ties abroad includes:
Some of the evidence you may submit to demonstrate that the purpose of your trip is to explore starting a business includes:
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