An E2 investor visa allows Canadian nationals to enter the United States after investing in a business or commercial enterprise in order to direct and develop that enterprise. This type of visa is an attractive alternative to the EB-5 investment visa, as it does not have a minimum investment threshold. It also allows the investor to bring his or her spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, and to renew the visa an unlimited number of times. For Canadian nationals, an E-2 investor visa is a great opportunity to obtain a U.S. visa and potentially remain in the United States indefinitely to direct and develop the business. Qualifying for an E-2 visa as a Canadian national requires meeting certain standards. The experienced E-2 investment visa attorneys of Colombo & Hurd have assisted innumerable investors in obtaining E-2 visas through the US Consulate in Toronto as well as through a change of status domestically in the US. We work collaboratively with our Canadian clients to help ensure the best possible outcome for E-2 immigration petitions.
Requirements for an E-2 Visa for a Canadian National
E-2 visas are only available to real or corporate persons who are nationals of a country that has a valid and commerce and navigation treaty with the United States. Because Canada has such a treaty with the U.S., Canadian investors qualify for E-2 visas. The next hurdle that must be met is making a “substantial” investment in a business or commercial enterprise in the United States. While the U.S. government has not set a minimum level of investment to qualify as “substantial,” the amount must be at least enough to develop the business in order for it to conduct operations. In other words, the investment must be enough so that the business will be successful. At the time of application, the investor must also have control of the funds and have committed the funds to the business or commercial enterprise. With many businesses an investment at the level of $80,000 to $100,000 will be sufficient to qualify provided the investor has an ownership percentage of 75% or greater; however, a prospective E2 Visa applicant should consult with counsel to determine the requisite investment level for their intended business as the Consular Officer will make an individualized determination based on the business in question.
When reviewing an application for an E-2 visa, the Consular Officer will also look to determine if the investment is in a real operating enterprise. This means that the investment must be in a “bona fide enterprise” that is real, active, and that produces services or goods for profit. The business also must be non-marginal, which means that it make enough profit to cover more than just business expenses and basic living costs for the investor. Generally, this is demonstrated by laying out the employment of US citizens the business will maintain in order to meet the “marginality requirement” though this may also be demonstrated in certain cases by a showing that the business will earn enough money to make a significant economic contribution within 5 years of opening for business.
Canadian investors who apply for an E-2 investment visa must be entering the United States in order to develop and direct the commercial enterprise or business. Applicants who are not the principal investors in the company can obtain E-2 visas if they are employed in a supervisory, highly skilled or executive position. The United States Embassy in Canada maintains a list of companies that have already qualified for E-visa status. Companies can be added to this list by applying for an E-2 visa at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Employees of registered companies can apply for an E-2 visa by applying at the U.S. Consulate in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver or Toronto.
Applying for an E-2 Visa in Toronto
For Canadian nationals, all new E-2 visa applications and renewals are processed through the U.S. consulate in Toronto. Dependents of current E-2 visa holders and employees of companies that are already registered as E-visa companies can apply for E-2 visas at the U.S. Consulate in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver or Toronto. All applicants for an E-2 visa must submit their online visa application electronically, and upload a photo. Applicants must then print out the confirmation page, which will be submitted with the application itself. The U.S. Consulate only accepts submissions in PDF format as a single attachment, which can be no longer than 70 pages and no bigger than 20MB (excluding certain documents, such as the immigration forms, tabs and dividers, copy of passport pages, and civil documents). Supporting documentation must be submitted along with the application for an E-2 visa, including a cover letter summarizing the requirements for an E-2 visa and how the applicant fulfills them, proof of nationality, ownership documents, investment documentation, evidence regarding lack of marginality and that the enterprise is real and operating.
To submit the application, Canadian nationals must create a user profile and pay the visa application fee. Generally, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto takes at least 10 days to review E-2 applications. An interview date will then be provided for applications that were accepted, and the applicant must then appear for an interview at the U.S. Consulate. If the E-2 investment visa is approved, it will be returned (along with the applicant’s passport and documents) via Canadian Post Courier, typically within 3 to 5 business days of the interview. E-2 visas are valid for an initial period of up to 5 years. This visa can then be extended for as long as the E-2 status is maintained. Notably, E2 status is provided for two years with every entry so in total the status could theoretically be obtain for up to just under 7 years with the initial Visa approval.
Work with an Experienced E-2 Visa Attorney Specializing in E2 Visas for Canadians
The investor visa attorneys of Colombo & Hurd have substantial experience representing Canadian investors in obtaining E2 visas. We work hand in hand with our clients to put together E-2 visa petitions and supporting documentation, including business plans, that will help them achieve the best possible outcome. If you are a Canadian national considering an E-2 visa, contact us online, or contact our Orlando office at (407) 478-1111 or our Miami office at (305) 455-0590 to schedule an initial consultation today. In the meantime, feel free to look over some of our recent E2 Visa approvals here.