E-2 Investor Visa: The Visa for Foreign Nationals Who Would Like to Start a Business in the United States
What is an E-2 Visa?
An E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows an individual to enter and work in the United States based on a substantial investment on a company the investor will be controlling. This visa is renewable indefinitely (typically from 2 to 5 years depending on the investor’s nationality) The investor’s spouse and children may accompany the investor or follow-to-join. E-2 investor visas are available only to citizens of certain countries.
What are the requirements for an E-2 investor visa?
- Nationality: The investor must be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. If a dual national, the investor must apply with the passport from a treaty country. Click here for a list of treaty countries.
- Investment must be at-risk: The investment funds must be the investor’s own funds. An investment is considered “at-risk” when the funds are irrevocably committed to the enterprise and subject to partial or total loss in the event that the business fails.
- Investment must be substantial: The substantiality of an investment is determined by looking at the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of business and the actual cost invested by the investor. For example, for businesses with low startup costs (e.g. consulting business), the investor is expected to have spent 100% of the costs to start the business. On the other hand, a highly expensive business (e.g. car manufacturer) would require a lower percentage of qualifying investment.
- Investment cannot be marginal: A business is not marginal if it has the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the invest and his or her family. This means that the business must have enough revenue that it makes a significant economic contribution in that it is able to hire U.S. workers and pay for expenses.
- Enterprise must be real and operating: A real, active commercial or entrepreneurial business is one which produces services or goods for profit. The enterprise cannot be an idle investment held for potential appreciation in value, such as undeveloped land or stocks held by the investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise.
- Investor must be in the position to direct and develop the enterprise: The investor must demonstrate ownership of at least 50 percent of the enterprise, or possess operational control through a managerial position or other corporate devices. The investor must also have the educational and professional background to be able to successfully grow the business.
- Investor must intend to depart the United States upon termination of the visa: Although the E-2 investor visa is renewable indefinitely, like all nonimmigrant visas, this is a temporary visa which contemplates that the investor must have the intent to depart the country once the visa expires.