The E2 “Treaty Investor” Visa is part of the family of U.S. visas that are available to citizens or national of one of 30+ countries that have trade treaties with the United States.
It enables individuals who have significant funds to invest to come into the U.S. for the purposes of setting up a business, practice, or office.
Although it is not provide residency (not a Green Card), one of the great advantages of the E2 visa is that it can be extended indefinitely, for as long as the business concerned is viable.
Family and Employees
The E2 may also cover the applicant’s spouse and other immediate family (i.e. unmarried children under 21). The spouse may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), giving them the right to work in the United States. (Family need not come from the same country as the E2 holder.) Similar to the E1 “Treaty Trader” visa, the E2 visa may also be extended to other personnel who:
- will occupy supervisory or executive positions,
- are considered essential to the running of the business,
- meet the definition of “employee” in law,
- and come from the same country as the E2 applicant.
Requirements of the E2 Visa Investment
As a general guide, we may recommend the E2 route to people with a minimum of $100,000US to invest. In exceptional cases, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will consider applications with amounts as low as $50,000.
The individual investor must demonstrate that their sole purpose for entering the U.S. is to run or develop the enterprise concerned. This is normally shown by their having either a minimum 50% stake in the business, or a significant managerial or leadership position that gives them operational control.
To qualify as “investment”, it is necessary to show that there is a risk of loss of capital, and also that the funds have not been generated through illegal means, even indirectly. (For that reason, you cannot simply invest in real estate.)
The investment can either be put into a new company or into an existing company, however the investment cannot be used to create a job solely for the individual investor. Our experience with these applications suggests that the business must employ at least three to five other people.
Any investment must not be viewed as marginal, meaning that it must have a good chance of generating sufficient income to provide for the visa holder and any family within five years of their entering the U.S..
In addition, the business must have its own dedicated premises, so cannot be run from the investor’s home.
Period of Stay
E2 visas are valid for up to two years, with an unlimited number of two-year extensions possible. Note that all persons covered by E2 visas are permitted to travel in and out of the U.S., and the primary visa holder will automatically get a two-year extension granted on re-entry to the country. However, this does not apply to family members, who are strongly advised to monitor carefully their permitted stay and time remaining so that they apply for any extensions in good time.