E-2 Visa Requirements: What You Need to Know

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Many people hope to come to the United States and work.  There are several types of visas, with the H-1B being perhaps the best known.  Numerous hurdles can make this dream challenging to achieve because of the qualification requirements or other factors: Most visas require employer sponsorship, the H-1B visa requires a college degree and selection in a lottery, the L-1 requires that you first work for the employer’s foreign affiliate; only Canadians and Mexicans who work in certain professions are eligible for the TN.  Many are not aware of another possible path – the E-2 visa.

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What is an E-2 Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is designed to facilitate investment and trade with the United States. This temporary visa allows entrepreneurs and investors from certain countries to live and work in the U.S. to develop either a new or existing business.  It is also available to executives, managers, and employees with specialized skills from qualifying countries.  This visa is usually valid for two years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as it continues doing business in the U.S. and meets other visa requirements.  There is no cap on the number of E-2 visas that can be issued in a year.

What are the Eligibility Requirements for an E-2 Visa?

To be eligible for an E-2 visa, you must be from a country that has a trade treaty with the U.S., and you must invest in a U.S. business.  While there is no minimum investment requirement, it must be considered a substantial amount.

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Accepted Treaty Countries

There are over 75 countries that have signed treaty investor agreements with the U.S.  You must be a citizen of one of those countries to qualify for an E-2 visa.  Two notable countries that do not have such a treaty with the U.S. are India and China.  Also, citizens from some countries are subject to slightly different qualifying requirements.  For example, a U.K. citizen must also show U.K. residence.  Visas for some countries such as Germany and Japan can be valid for up to five years.  However, visas might be valid for only three months for citizens of Ukraine and Bangladesh.  Citizens from Ecuador can only qualify by investing in an existing business, not a new one.

E-2 Requirements

●        Investment- The law does not specify a minimum amount required to invest in qualifying for the E-2. Instead, it requires the investor to invest a “substantial amount. So, what is “Substantial”? The answer to this question is- it depends! The investment needs to be substantial concerning the total cost of either purchasing an existing business or establishing a new one. Something to consider is that the lower the cost of the business, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be regarded as substantial. The investment also needs to be sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation.  Practically and generally speaking- a minimum of $80,000-$100,000 is recommended to qualify for the E-2 visa.

●        Your reason for emigrating to the U.S. should be to develop the company, and you must have the executive, managerial, or specialized skills to do so.

●        The investment must involve some level of risk on your part.

●        You should have at least 50% ownership and control of the company.

●        The company is actively doing business, and you should have a role in actively directing and developing the company.

●        The investment must not be marginal:  The company should have the potential to create jobs for U.S. workers and generate enough income for you to live on.

What Documents Do You Need for an E-2 Visa?

The specific documents required can vary somewhat depending on your country of citizenship, the nature of your business, and whether it is a new or existing company.  But required documents typically include:

●        Proof of business registration and ownership such as articles of incorporation and stock certificates

●        Tax returns or market valuation showing company net worth

●        Start-up cost estimates that reference trade association statistics, chamber of commerce estimates, or market surveys.

●        Documents showing the source of investment capital such as a bank or financial statements

●        Evidence of investment in the U.S. company such as purchase agreements, loan documents or lease agreements

●        Proof of business viability such as annual reports, business plans, and financial projections

●        Proof of operations such as a business license, invoices or utility bills

●        Explanation of your role in the company and proof of your qualifications

 

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How to Apply for an E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa does not require filing a petition to USCIS and can be registered directly with the Consulate/Embassy. Each Consulate/Embassy has different procedures and documents needed, so you must confirm precisely what is required before submitting your E-2 application.  After submitting your application and supporting documents, you will be invited to schedule an interview at the Consulate/Embassy.

Complete Form DS-160

You will need to complete and submit forms DS-160 and DS-156E.  The DS-160 is a non-immigrant application form that all people seeking temporary visas must complete and submit online.  You will receive a login code and select the answer to a security question when you start completing the form.  It is essential to keep this information; if you lose it, you will have to start the process again.  Unfortunately, form DS-160 can sometimes be very glitchy and requires patience to complete.  Depending on the consulate, you might also submit a passport photo with form DS-160.  Form DS-156E is only for people seeking E1 and E-2 visas and is part of the application process.

Visa Interview

Once you submit your E-2 application, you can make an appointment for your visa interview.  Depending on the consulate, you might be able to schedule your appointment only a few days in advance.  You might have a waiting time of several weeks with other consulates.  At the interview, you will be asked about your E-2 business, giving you an opportunity to make a case for a visa during your consular interview.  You will also need to bring the supporting evidence to be reviewed by the consular officer.

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Visa Approval

A well-prepared E-2 visa application has a good chance of approval.  If approved for a visa, it will be affixed to your passport.  Depending on the consulate, your passport might be mailed back to you, or you might have to pick it up at the consulate or another designated location.

E-2 Visa Costs

The E-2 visa application fee is $205 and must be paid whether your visa is approved.  Consulates in some countries require a $105 visa issuance fee.  Many applicants are also required to appear for a biometrics interview, where you will be fingerprinted and possibly photographed.  The biometrics fee is $85.  The payment method varies by the consulate.  Some require you to pay online when you schedule your interview; others require you to bring a payment voucher to a specific bank.  Some consulates allow you to pay at the time of your interview.

What is the Processing Time for an E-2 Visa?

Because there are so many consulates that process E-2 visas, visa processing times vary greatly, but they span from a few days to several months.  E-2 visa renewal applications are typically processed more quickly than initial applications.

Related: Frequently Asked Questions

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help You Get an E-2 Visa?

The E-2 visa process can feel overwhelming.  It can be challenging to know which documents you’ll need and how to present your case effectively.  Preparing an E-2 visa application requires a considerable investment of time and effort.  You want to make sure that your hard work results in approval.  Brudner Law can help.  We are experts in the E-2 visa process and can guide you every step of the way to have peace of mind.

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Conclusion

An E-2 visa can be ideal for entrepreneurs who wish to buy or start a business in the U.S.  It is also available to executives, managers, and specialized workers of companies that invest in the U.S.  Your business does not have too large to qualify.  The E-2 is also a very attractive visa because there is no yearly visa quota, and it can be renewed indefinitely.  Contact Brudner Law for a consultation and find out if an E-2 visa is right for you.

Brudner Law is experienced in many areas of immigration law. Visit us today to see how we can help you.