By Kaitlyn Garcia, J.D. | Immigration Attorney | Houston, Texas
The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling, while inside the United States. This visa must generally be renewed every two years, but there is no limit to how many times one can renew.
The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this classification.
See U.S. Department of State's Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Below is a FAQ guide of common E-2 visa questions:
What are the requirements to start up a new business under the E-2 investor visa?
There must be a business investment. Further, the business investment must be a “substantial” amount. In addition to a business investment requirement, the business cannot be “marginal” and the investment funds must be “committed" to qualify for the E-2 visa.
What is considered to be a substantial investment for the E-2 visa?
A "substantial investment" for the E-2 visa largely depends on the nature of the business. There is no specific dollar amount that is required to invest into your new business for the E-2 visa. The amount simply has to be deemed "substantial." For example, if you intend to start up a clothing store here in the U.S. under the E-2 visa, and the typical amount of capital required to start up a clothing store under your proposed business model is $100,000... then the amount you must invest should be the similar in amount. If instead, you intend to start up a consulting service such as a financial consulting firm, the amount required to start up might be less (possibly around $50,000). The amount of capital required to start a business under the E-2 visa is highly dependent on a business plan.
What does business "marginality" mean for the E-2 visa requirements?
Your business cannot be "marginal." What does this mean? This means that your business for E-2 visa purposes, must create jobs and create jobs for American workers.
How do I show my investment funds?
Your investment funds must be "committed." This means that your investment into your business must be "active." Funds parked in a bank account don’t count because the U.S. state department takes position that funds in a bank account can easily be withdrawn and are not considered committed to the business. Funds must be actively invested to be considered committed funds for purposes of the E-2 visa requirements.
How do we show that investment funds are actively invested in my business?
Below are a few ways to show that your E-2 investment funds are committed by being actively invested into the new business.
- Company is already operating (invoices, contracts)
- Contracts for employees
- Registered office
- Purchased inventory
- Purchased office space (lease agreement for a multiple year term).
Can I just buy into an already established business as an investor?
Investing into or buying into a currently established business is another route. This route for the E-2 visa typically requires some business evaluation and consultation to be effective for immigration.
Can I create my own business plan or does the business plan have to be professionally drafted?
The short answer: yes, you can create your own business plan for your E-2 petition. However, many successful applications choose to have a professional business plan created to submit to immigration.
Do I need a business plan for the E-2 visa?
No. However, just as a business plan must be built, a U.S. visa to start a business in the U.S. requires planning (literally). If seeking to start a business in the U.S., either with an E-2 visa, creating a business plan for your start-up is the first step and sets the tone of your visa petition.