If you are interested in living in the United States by investment in a business, the E2 investor visa may be the perfect option for you.  This type of visa is designed for the entrepreneur, allowing investments in a business or commercial enterprise in order to obtain a visa for the investor and his family to live and work in the United States. However, there are a number of requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for an E2 investor visa.  Working through this list can help you achieve E2 visa approval.

  1. You Must Be a National of a Treaty County

 The first requirement for an E2 visa is straightforward.  You can only qualify for this type of visa if you are a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.  A wide range of countries currently have treaties with the United States, from Albania to Bahrain to Cameroon to Colombia to Germany to South Korea to Sri Lanka.  The State Department maintains a list of countries with valid treaties that qualify its nationals for E2 visas.

  1. You Must Have Invested a Substantial Amount.

Unlike EB5 visas, which require a specific minimum investment threshold, there is no specific amount that must be invested to obtain an E2 investment visa.  Instead, the investment must be “substantial,” which is based in part on the nature of the business.  Generally, it must be a sufficient investment to ensure that the enterprise can be operated successfully.  If the business is a relatively low cost enterprise, then the percentage of the total cost that must be invested is higher than in a high cost enterprise. Although there is no “magic number” it may be very difficult to gain approval for an investment of less than $60,000.00.

  1. The Investment Must Be in a Real, Non-Marginal Operating Enterprise.

 The investment that you make must be in a real business, not a speculative or idle enterprise such as flipping real estate.  The business also cannot be marginal, which means that it must provide more than just income for you and your family.  If you are creating a new business this is demonstrated through a business plan that either shows growth over a five-year period as well as the US citizens you will hire as part of your business.  If you are purchasing an existing business you may demonstrate non-marginality through the past tax returns of the company as well as the proof of payment of taxes for prior employees.

  1. You Must Have Control of the Funds, and the Investment Must Be at Risk.

To be approved for an E2 visa, you must demonstrate to USCIS that you are either in the process of investing capital in a U.S. business or commercial enterprise, or that you have already invested.  There are three elements that must be proven to meet this criteria.

First, you have to show that you have legitimate possession and control of the funds that you are using to invest.  In other words, you will have to document that you earned or were given the money legitimately, rather than through an illicit or illegal business or action.  This can be demonstrated in a number of ways, such as through wage statements, tax returns, or bank statements.  If you live in a country where corruption is endemic or this type of recordkeeping is not readily available, this can be harder to prove.

Second, you will need to prove that the funds that you invested are irrevocably committed and that they are “at risk” of loss.  Petitioners can take out loans or use credit cards if necessary, provided that the debts are not secured by business assets or taken out in the name of a limited liability business.  This is one of the most difficult aspects of applying for an E2 visa for many investors, as they stand the chance of losing their investment if their visa is not approved.  However, if the funds are not at risk, then the visa will absolutely not be approved.

Third, you must be coming to the United States to start the business — and it should be ready to get underway once you arrive in the U.S.  Although you cannot officially start to work or actively manage enterprise until the visa is approved, the business generally should be set up with a lease, bank account, supplies, a website, and other necessities.  In this way, the government can be sure that it is only issuing visas to individuals who plan to actually run a business — not to those who merely may do so.

  1. You Must Be Coming to the U.S. to Develop and Direct the Enterprise.

Finally, in order to qualify for an E2 investor visa, you must have the skills and qualifications to be able to direct and run the business.  This is typically demonstrated through your educational background and experience in the field.  If you are not the principal investor in the business, you must be coming to the U.S. to work in a supervisory, highly specialized skill or executive capacity.  If you are an unskilled worker or have an ordinary skill level, then you will likely not qualify for this type of visa.

  1. You Must Intend to Return Home… Eventually.

 The E2 investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa.  Under current U.S. law, it is not possible to obtain a green card (permanent U.S. residency) through an E2 visa.  For this reason, when applying for an E2 visa, you must be willing to sign a document certifying that you intend to return to your home once you are no longer operating your business.  Notably, the E2 investor visa is initially valid for a period of up to five years depending on the specific treaty with your country and can be renewed indefinitely. Although there is not a direct path to a green card through the E-2 Visa there are several indirect paths you may proceed to obtain permanent residency while you are on an E-2 Visa.

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Consultation

At Colombo & Hurd, we have successfully obtained E2 Visas for our clients through change of status in the United States but also at US consulates throughout the world including in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. If you are interested in learning more about E-2 treaty investor visas, please contact our experienced E2 Visa Attorneys in Tampa, Miami or our Orlando E2 Visa lawyers today for an initial consultation at (407) 478-1111 for our Orlando office, (813) 444-1114 for our Tampa Office or (305) 455-0590 for our Miami office.