How to Obtain an E2 Visa in the US
At Colombo & Hurd, our E2 Visa lawyers represent our clients throughout the US and around the world obtain the E2 Visa through investment. E2 visas permit foreign nationals to enter the United States in order to direct and develop a commercial enterprise or business in which they have invested a substantial amount of money or capital. Foreign nationals wishing to obtain E2 visas must be a citizen of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce. Although there is no specific dollar amount required under U.S. immigration law, the investment must be “substantial” and cannot be marginal. The E2 investor visa is typically initially valid for two to five years and may be extended indefinitely. This visa is an excellent option for a variety of investors but has become more challenging since the advent of COVID-19 in light of Consular closures and other challenges resulting from the pandemic. However, throughout 2020 and into 2021 our firm has been successful in navigating E-2 challenges and a changing investor visa climate in order to successfully obtain dozens of E2 Visas or E2 Status Changes for our clients.
- The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country;
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise;
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment;
- The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States;
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed; and
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.
Frequently Asked Questions About E2 Visas:
Which countries qualify for E2 Visas?
Although this list is subject to change, the State Department provides that foreign nationals from this list of countries are eligible to qualify to obtain an E2 Visa.
What is a “substantial investment”?
One of the most important requirements to obtain an E2 visa is establishing that the foreign national has made a “substantial investment” into either a new or existing business in the United States. There is no absolute test that can be applied in determining whether an investment is substantial. In other words, there is no minimum dollar amount under the law; instead, the government uses elaborate tests to determine whether the investment is substantial. Generally, in order to meet the substantiality test, a business must establish one of the following:
- the investment must be proportional to the total value of the particular enterprise in question (a test usually applied to investment in existing businesses); or
- the investment must be an amount normally considered necessary to establish a viable enterprise of the type contemplated (usually applied to new businesses).
For more guidance on what constitutes substantial investment into a United States business to satisfy the E2 capital requirement please click here.
What types of capital can make up the investment?
Only money that is personally at risk can make up the investment. As such, the following will generally qualify:
- Cash reserves placed in business account (with evidence of source of income);
- Loans secured by the investor’s own assets, such as a mortgage on real property;
- Unsecured loans
- Equipment, Inventory or Property contributed to the business by the investor.
Non-qualifying investments can be the following:
- Mortgage debt or other loans secured by the enterprise assets;
- Loans for which the lender has recourse against the business
- Cash not held in reserve by the corporation, such as cash held in personal bank accounts.
Must the investment be made prior to applying?
The law requires that the funds be at risk. Thus, generally, the investment must be committed and the funds either paid, held in trust or in some instances under contract. Although a reasonable amount of funds may be considered when placed in an operating account, the rest of the investment should be made by the time the E-2 visa application is filed.
Can I buy an existing business or must I create a new business?
Either buying an existing business or creating a new business in the U.S. qualifies.
Do I need to own the company by myself or can I have partners?
The principal investor from the treaty country must control the investment. Typically, ownership of more than 50% of the business establishes control by the investor.
Must the business be active and operating or can I just buy land or an inactive business to qualify?
The regulations require that the business be an active operating enterprise. The purchase of undeveloped land, personal homes, or idle investments alone do not qualify. The immigration officer reviewing your case will also require that the business have physical premises secured either through a lease or purchase of a commercial office/warehouse space in order to operate the business.
Can I bring employees to the U.S. if I have an E2 as an investor?
Employees from the foreign company that can establish they will work in the E2 business in either a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity may qualify for an E-2 visa. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify. In some instances, it may be best to explore the L-1 visa when companies are transferring employees to the U.S.
Can I obtain a green card through an E2 Visa?
It is not possible to obtain lawful permanent residence directly through obtainment of an E2 Visa. However, there are some creative alternatives to utilize the E2 as a vehicle to maintain lawful status during the process of obtaining your green card through other means. For further discussion on this please click here for a discussion on how can I obtain a green card through my E2 Visa?
Benefits of Obtaining an E2 Visa:
- You can work legally in the U.S. for a U.S. company that is the subject of the investment;
- You can stay on a prolonged basis with unlimited extensions as long as you maintain valid E2 status(i.e. so long as the business remains in operation);
- Approvals of E2 visas tend to be fast as compared to other visas and are not subject to annual limits or quotas;
- You may bring your dependents (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) to live with you in the U.S.;
- Your spouse may seek employment by applying for an employment authorization card once the E2 visa is approved and you travel to the U.S.
- Your children under 21 years of age can study in the U.S; and
- You may purchase real estate in the U.S.
Why Choose Colombo & Hurd for an E2 Visa Lawyer?
We have an excellent record representing investors who wish to obtain an E2 Visa to conduct business, manage their investment, or work for a US branch or subsidiary. Our law firm handles all corporate and international work on behalf of the client to ensure that not only the initial visa is approved, but also to maximize the chances of approval for a renewal in the future. Our team of investor-visa professionals also utilizes the latest technology, including the top rated US immigration software to keep clients informed, collect data and ensure that all deadlines are timely met. Our approach is individualized and customized to make sure you focus on your business and investments, while we take care of the bureaucracy of US immigration. This saves you time and money, allowing our clients to travel freely without worrying about the immigration process. 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, Ecuador, 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 or (305) 455-0590 for our Miami office.
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Can An E2 Visa Holder Apply For A Green Card
E2 Visas Under The Trump Administration – Opportunities and Risks
Understanding the E2 Substantial Capital Requirement
The E2 Visa Process for Argentinian Nationals
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