E-2 Treaty Investor Visas
The E-2 Visa is a non-immigrant investor visa for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation that are coming to the U.S. to make a substantial investment in a commercial enterprise that is not marginal in nature.
The E-2 visa has advantages over the EB-5 Entrepreneur because there is no set minimum amount that must be invested and the E-2 visa can often be obtained in just a matter of weeks, not years. However, the E-2 visa has limitations in that it is not a permanent resident or immigrant visa but rather a temporary visa that must be renewed every two years as long as the investor owns the business.
The E-2 visa is limited to citizens of countries in which the U.S. has a treaty. A list of these countries can be found at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html.
The main requirements for obtaining the E2 Visa are that:
- The investment is substantial
- The investment is made in a Company that is not (or will not become) marginal
- The investor has control of the Company, meaning ownership of at least 50%
- The investor proves the lawful source of the funds invested.
There is no minimum amount to apply for the E-2 Visa, but as a rule of thumb the USCIS and State Department normally require a minimum investment of about $100,000. The applicant must demonstrate that the investment will soon generate income sufficient for the investor to make a living in the U.S. and to employ U.S. workers.
The investor must also prove that the funds for the investment came from a lawful source so tracing the funds for the purchase is critical.
Any type of investment can qualify for an E-2 visa as long as it is not what is termed a passive investment-one that requires little day to day management. For this reason, most real estate and stock market investments do not qualify. However, the investment can be in a retail company, a trading company, a wholesale company, a manufacturing company, an internet based company, even a service company and many franchises such as fast food or retail businesses can qualify.
Commonly, the initial E-2 status will be valid for two years but can be extended forever provided the E-2 visa holder still owns and controls the investment.
The spouse and minor children of an E-2 visa holder may enter and remain in the U.S. with the visa holder. The spouse can even obtain employment authorization in the U.S. and can work at any job. Minor children may attend school on the E-2 visa.
There is also a provision in the law for certain employees of E-2 treaty qualified businesses to enter the U.S. on an E-2 visa to be lawfully employed in this country. The E-2 visa applicant must share the same nationality as the owner of the E-2 business.
E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa and for this reason, this visa category cannot be used as a path to lawful permanent residence (Green Card), because the law prohibits the investor from petitioning himself. However, there may be ways for the treaty investor to seek permanent residence through other avenues.
At the Law Offices of David M. Sturman we have filed numerous E-2 visa applications and we have over 35 year of experience in this field. When seeking an investment in the U.S. it is important to consider the appealing benefits of an E-2 visa.