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E2 Visa

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a great option for foreign investors who want to start a business in the United States. This visa allows investors to live and work in the US for up to five years, and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business is still operating.

San Diego, CA

What is the E2 Visa?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a temporary visa and, can be granted for up to 5 years. The E-2 visa should not be confused with the EB-5 Investor Visa. The EB-5 Visa is an immigrant petition for a Green Card and requires a $500,000 investment in a regional center that’s in a targeted employment area or a 1 million dollar investment that will employ 10 or more employees.

In August 2011, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created initiatives to increase jobs in the U.S. by establishing the “Entrepreneurs in Residence” program in order to increase jobs by strengthening new business in the U.S. Given such strong directives from the Department of Homeland Security, it is still a good time to consider the E-2 visa for opening your U.S.-based business, chiropractic office, a consultant-based business in mining or industrial design, a retail store, or pastry shop.

E-2 visas are permits allowing individuals and their families to enter and work within the US by proxy of their investment. The E2 visa is for numerous countries that the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or with which the United States maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation. Your intentions must be to direct and develop an enterprise via your significant investment. You do not have to file a petition if you are applying for an E-2 visa. Meaning you do not need a  

It is important that your investment is made in a lawful business, acquired, owned, and controlled by you entirely or significantly. There must be a risk involved and the objective must be profitability. There should be an element of loss, should the investment fail. 

What Countries Have Treaty Investor Status?

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is available to nationals of a treaty country with which the U.S maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. The purpose of the treaty investor visa is to facilitate commerce between the treaty nations.

For example, Canada, Mexico, France, England, Taiwan and Jordan have a bilateral treaty with the U.S. See this complete list of treaty investor countries.

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E2 Visa Requirements


The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of the treaty country. You can see this complete list of treaty investor countries here or you can talk with our E2 visa lawyer to know more about the treaty countries.


The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The E2 investor visa minimum investment amount percentage for a low-cost business enterprise should be greater than the investment percentage of a high-cost enterprise. For example, a consultant based business, such as graphic design services or management consulting business will require a higher ratio of investment than a medical office. The substantiality test compares the amount of qualifying funds actually invested against the total costs of purchasing an existing business or the total cost of establishing a newly created business and making it operational.

If the amount of capital actually invested is the same as the cost of the business, the investment is considered to be 100% of the required funds, and is considered “substantial.”

Business investments that are not 100%, the higher the cost of the business, the greater the amount of financing against the business assets is allowed.

The State Department has published the following sliding scale.

Total Costs of Business Percentage Cash Required
$ 50,000.00 100%
$100,000.00 75 to 100%
$500,000.00 60%
$1,000,000.00 50 to 60%
$10,000,000.00 30%
$100,000,000.00 10%

Unfortunately, there is no fixed amount, but our laywers advise you to be prepared to invest an E2 investor visa minimum investment amount of up to $100,000 USD into the enterprise to present an excellent E2 visa case.

A professional E2 visa business plan is a crucial part of the E2 visa application. Your plan must be drafted in a way to demonstrate that the investor has made or is in the process of funding the investment, and the business has strong prospects. The E2 visa business plan must also have all of the following:

  • Business Description 
  • Investment Summary
  • Executive Summary 
  • Industry and Market Analysis 
  • Key Management and Personnel Plan 
  • Competitive Advantages and Marketing Strategy 
  • Financial Projections 

If these components are not organized in a professionally detailed and thorough manner, it could lead to the rejection of your application. We welcome you to schedule an introductory consultation with our team for further legal assistance. 

Real & Operating Business

The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investments does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

You will also need to submit the following evidence to prove that your business is bona fide:

  • Business licenses
  • Tax returns
  • Lease agreement
  • Escrow documents
  • Financial statements
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills
  • Advertisements or telephone directory listings
  • Business organizational chart
  • Quarterly wage reports or payroll summaries 
  • Contracts or customer and vendor agreements
  • Notice of assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)


The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the E2 visa investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.


The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.

Develop & Direct

The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

**Spouses of E-2 workers may apply for work authorization with USCIS.  If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work.

It is important to note that the E2 visa is much more lenient than the EB5 investor or the L1 visa. Where the EB5 visa requires you to invest at least $500,000 or create jobs for a minimum of 10 people, the E2 visa only requires that you become a majority shareholder in an enterprise. When compared to L1, the E2 visa doesn’t require for investors to have worked for a business or have their own establishment outside the US for a period of time, nor is there any requirement that other business branches continue operating (outside the US).

E2 Visa Processing Time

The E2 visa processing time varies from just a few weeks to several months, depending on the embassy you are applying from. While applying from within the US, you can consult with us to apply for the premium services to cut down the processing time often as low as 15 days business days. 

After the consulate reviews your application, they will set up an interview with you. If the visa application gets approved, the visa will take at least a week to be issued. As the processing time is variable, our lawyers discourage you from scheduling any travel plans until after you get the visa. Moreover, if you have an E-2 treaty enterprise registered enterprise or buy an E2 visa business for sale in the US, the processing time will automatically be sped up. 

However, the E2 visa processing time may also depend on your nationality. There are a few country-specific requirements that can extend the processing time. Our experienced visa attorneys can assist you throughout the entire process. 

E2 Visa Renewal

To extend an E2 visa, our attorneys can assist you through each step. You can extend your visa by either traveling abroad and re-entering or by re-applying. This will give you an automatic two-year E2 visa renewal. You can also apply for renewal by filing an extension request with the USCIS. The visa validity will vary depending on where you’re applying. 

The visa issued by the USCIS in the United States is valid for a period of 2 years. After the completion of 2 years, you may apply for an E2 visa renewal. If you apply from outside the US via the consulate, the validity will be 5 years for some treaty country nationals. Others the validity may be up to 4 years down to as low as 3 months. Regardless of the validity period, any E2 visa holder can renew their E2 visa extension indefinitely.

Our E2 visa lawyer is often asked whether the validity period determines the investor’s stay in the US. The validity period does not dictate the length of your stay as long as you follow all the guidelines and meet the E2 visa requirements. For a 5-year validity period, you may leave and re-enter the US indefinitely within the period. However, for a 3-month validity period, a two-year timeframe is provided to run your business. If you leave the United States during this time, you will need to apply for a new visa.

E2 Visa Spouse and Children

The E2 visa holder can obtain dependant visas for their family members to reside in America. Children must be under 21 years of age with this type of visa and may apply at the same time as the primary applicant or after the visa has been issued to the E2 treaty investor.

The E2 visa holder’s spouse can apply for an employment authorization card once arriving in the US. Once approval is granted, they may engage in work within the country. It should be noted that as a non-immigrant worker on an E2 itinerary, you are only allowed to work for other people or businesses with this status (E2). Your spouse does not have these restrictions and can choose any employer they wish – even if self-employed!

Below are the documents required to obtain an E2 visa spouse work permit:

  • Copy of passport bio page
  • Marriage certificate
  • Copies of the investor and the applicant’s E-2 visas
  • Latest I-94s for the investor and the spouse to indicate entry in E-2 Status
  • Original and photocopies (front and back) of previous employment authorization card issued in the U.S., if any 
  • Student Visa (if applicable)
  • Old I-20s (if applicable)
  • Any previous I-797 approval notices for employment authorization.
  • The USCIS filing fees
  • Two current, passport size photographs, taken within 30 days. The photographs must meet the U.S. Department of State requirements 

Filing for a visa can be a complicated and confusing process on your own. If you are looking to apply for the E2 visa status, our immigration attorneys at Keamy Tavares & Associates will do everything they can to ensure the process is as easy and straightforward as possible!

How It Works

The immigration process can be a lot to comprehend, but our team of San Diego Immigration Lawyers are here to help. We make the process as simple as possible and if you have any questions or concerns about your specific situation we’re always available for consultation.


When we first meet with you to understand your situation and goals, we’ll propose a set of solutions so you can choose what feels best. From there, we'll work with you to find a solution that best meets your needs and the government's requirements. Book a consultation below.


We’ll make it easy to communicate and for you to provide documents and information. We'll work with you one-on-one, guiding your application through an efficient review process that will be tailored specifically to what works best with immigration authorities.

Take Action

After you sign and finalize your application with us, we will diligently keep you updated on the process. We can accompany you to any interviews that take place in the United States as well. No matter what part of this journey, we will be by your side every step of the way.


Getting approved is a wonderful moment to celebrate. We’ll make sure you understand what comes next and if you need to do anything else. We’ll stay close and you can rely on us to update you in advance of any action you’ll need to take to ensure your immigration status remains.

E-2 Visa Fees and Application Cost

When filing for an E2 Visa, you can expect the below basic fees:

  • The basic filing fee for all I-129 petitions is $460. This fee must be paid each time that the petition is filed including for extensions and amendments.
  • If you are outside the U.S. and need to use consular processing, then you will need to pay a $205 filing fee for your DS-160 visa application cost.
  • There is an $85 biometric services fee.
  • If your spouse or dependents are going to accompany you, an I-129 petition will need to be filed for each visa issued along with the required filing fee.
  • Some additional costs may include additional costs such as translation, notary charges, traveling costs to the embassy and the U.S. as well as the premium processing fee, which may be required depending on your individual circumstances.

In addition to the legal fee, the price of obtaining an E-2 visa will vary depending on what country you currently reside in. Those who reside within the United States can expect a basic filing fee of $460 for each application mentioned above; if outside America then the fee is approximately $750 per applicant. Contact us below for further information on E2 visa fees and application costs for your individual situation.

E-2 Visa Premium Processing

The USCIS has created the premium processing service so that you can have your I-129 petition processed within 15 calendar days for an extra E-2 visa fee. This does not alter any chance of getting approved, but speeds up processing time by half a year!  This allows you to have your petition processed within 15 business days for an extra E-2 visa fee of $2,500.

It is also important to note that even though premium processing has been suspended for H-1B visas, it is still available for anyone petitioning for an E-2 visa.

Our Immigration Attorneys are experts at navigating the US immigration process for individuals, families, & entrepreneurs, including E-2 treaty Visa.

Johanna Keamy Attorney

Professional and Experienced Immigration Law Attorney

Keamy Tavares & Associates
– Are Ready to Help You Move to the US

We’re here to help you secure your E-2 treaty investor visa and to ensure that the process moves along without hitches. Let Johanna and her associates be your personal chauffeur on your road towards the land of opportunity.

Let’s Help You & Your Family Make it to The US

E2 Investor Visa Alternatives

Keamy Tavares APLC is renowned for our ability to stand in your shoes, understand our current situation, and therefore offer you bespoke solutions; including alternatives, where needed. Our team of experts lets by Johanna M. Keamy has assisted numerous businesses, investors, and families acquire relevant immigration statuses and visas, so let us show you how we can help!
Some E-2 Visa alternatives include;

E2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to invest ALL of my money at once into the E-2 business or can I invest only half or none at all until the visa is first approved?

The funds must be “irrevocably” committed to the business which requires an actual investment.  The total amount invested depends on the initial start-up costs and the type of business to be opened or purchased. 

Once I receive E-2 registration with the U.S. Embassy in my home country, can the newly registered company hire E-2 workers?

A registered company is a business that has previously been issued an E-visa for its principal investor or employee and maintains a valid company registration with a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  Registrations are typically valid for 5 years.

E-2 employees may qualify for an E-visa as the manager or essential employee of a registered company. A significant benefit for E-2 Applicants is that they are not usually required to email their supporting documents prior to their interview.  Documentation varies from Consulate to Consulate but usually requires a Notice of E-Visa Company Registration; DS-160 confirmation page for all applicants and dependents; Updated DS-156E; Letter from the company providing specific information on the applicant and outlining the reasons for his/her assignment to the United States, along with the applicant’s resume or CV; A signed statement from the owner, CEO, corporate secretary, or executive attesting to the fact that there have been no substantial changes in the ownership structure or operations and for any dependents of the applicant, proof of legal relationship and reciprocity fee, if any.

If I have a foreign business and want to start a U.S. company, should I consider the L-1A Intra company Transferee option or the E-2 visa option?

It depends.   The L-1 visa option allows for a transfer of a Manager or someone with Specialized Skills.  This transfer would not be likely if there are no or only a few employees either at the foreign company or a U.S. subsidiary.  The E-2 Investor visa is an option if a foreign investor wants to start a new company.  Self-employment is not authorized for the E-2.  The funds must be personal (not borrowed) and traceable (not stolen/gambling, etc.)  An investor must actually invest the funds in the business enterprise (as opposed to keeping the money in the bank until you get the visa) with the goal to hire U.S. workers

What is the difference between the H-1B skilled worker visa program and the E-2 employee visa mentioned above?

If the owner/applicant has a bachelor’s degree and wants to work for a U.S. employer, the H-1B program may be an option.  However, H-1B workers may be subject to a visa lottery unless exempt (workers for an Institution of Higher education.)  If a potential E-2 Applicant does not have a degree and shares the same nationality as the nationality of an E-2 registered company, a foreign employee manager or specialized skills worker may be an option and is not subjected to a visa lottery.  Spouses qualify for work authorization.

My partner and I have been together in a common-law marriage. Is a derivative visa for my partner possible?

The United States does not recognize common law marriages and derivative visa status would not be an option.

My partner and I are of the same sex and are legally married. Is it possible for my partner to receive an E-2 visa as my spouse?

Yes.  As long as the marriage is legal and not a sham, your partner will be able to receive a spousal visa (E-2) as the spouse of an E-2 visa holder.

Will my spouse be able to attend school or college on an E-2 visa?

Spouses of E-2 visa holders are allowed to study in the United States.

My spouse has a valid EAD card (work authorization). Is it possible for my spouse to be self-employed?

There is no prohibition against a spouse being self-employed with a validly held EAD card.  A valid EAD card for an E-2 spouse has a category noted as A17. 


I am in the U.S. and have valid E-2 status that is due to expire. Should I leave the country to get a new E-2 visa or can I stay in the country and renew within the U.S.?

If an E-2 renewal Applicant is in the U.S., a 2-year extension of status can be filed with USCIS either through regular processing or premium Processing.  Regular processing may take 3-5 months or more and the E-2 Applicant will need to remain in the U.S. until approved.  USCIS offers Premium processing and will render a decision in 15 business days for an additional charge of $2,5000.  (This fee can change at any time, visit  Renewal applications MUST BE FILED before the expiration of the current E-2 status.  If an E-2 Applicant needs to leave the U.S., an appointment with the U.S. Embassy must be made for a new E-2 visa.  If the E-2 investor has no plans to leave the U.S., an extension will be granted by USCIS within the U.S.

Is it possible to start a new business or do I have to purchase an existing business?

Some E-2 investors chose to purchase an existing business and, in some circumstances, purchase the goodwill and assignment of the lease.  For example, an investor may purchase a restaurant with existing goodwill, lease, products, equipment, supplies, signage, in-place advertisement, staff, etc.  Funds are usually held in escrow for the purchase of an existing business and a copy of the purchase agreement and lease assignment, tax returns, and payroll statement are critical elements of the application.  In the case of a new business, formation documents for an LLC or corporation, a very detailed business plan with 5-year financial projections and organization chart, photographs, market research, Profit and loss, and balance sheets, owner CV/resume, and other documents will be necessary to prove the investment is real.

Will the E-2 visa work for me to be self-employed in the U.S.?

There is no “self-employment visa” in the U.S. The purpose of the E-2 visa program is to facilitate the U.S. economy.  An E-2 will not be granted for a marginal business that will only generate an income solely for supporting the investor.

I am a prospective investor. Is it possible to enter the U.S. on the B-1 visa intending E-2 visa rather than entering as a visa waiver applicant for 90 days maximum stay?

It may take more than 90 days to identify investment opportunities.  The B-1 seeking an E-2 investment is an option for potential investors.

Am I from a qualifying country to get an E-2?

Please visit the Department of State for an updated list of Treaty Countries.


Can I travel outside the US on an E2 Visa?

If an E-2 Treaty Investor visited a U.S. Embassy abroad and obtained an E-2 visa, the investor will be able to travel outside of the U.S. and return on the E-2 visa. 


However, if the investor entered the U.S. in another status such as B-1 seeking E-2 and changed status within the U.S. by filing with USCIS, the investor may travel outside of the U.S. but must first make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in the Investor’s home country to obtain an E-2 visa.  This E-2 visa will enable the investor to return to the U.S. in E-2 investor status.


***THE E-2 APPROVAL NOTICE ISSUED BY USCIS IS NOT A VISA AND CAN NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF A VISA.  Also, if an Investor has an approved change of status from a different nonimmigrant status to E-2 status and subsequently leaves the country and returns on a previously issued nonimmigrant visa such as a B-2 visa, the E-2 status will no longer be valid and the status of the foreign national will be that of tourist.  This precludes work in the U.S. as a Treaty Investor. 

My E2 Visa is expired. Can I travel outside the US while waiting for my E2 Visa renewal approval?

A renewal request for  E-2 status made within the U.S. and filed with USCIS requires the Investor to wait on approval of the renewal in which case an approval notice will issue.  As noted above, an Approval Notice is not a visa and does not function like a visa. If an investor wants to renew a visa and has a registered company with the U.S. Embassy, a new registration can be made with the U.S. Embassy.   A U.S. Visa gives the bearer of that visa, during the validity period, the right to request admission to the U.S.  The visa does not guarantee admission nor does it dictate the duration of stay within the U.S.  Only the date written or stamped onto the I-94 governs the length of stay in the USA, not the visa itself.   If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 (record of admission) for verification of immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from


Can I apply for permanent residency under the E2 Visa? If not, what are the options to apply for PR?

Although it seems logical that an E-2 Investor should eventually have a path to a Green Card if a significant amount of capital has been invested into a U.S. company and that company has made an economic impact in the U.S., U.S. Immigration laws do not have a path to obtain a Green card through the E-2 business.  However, the business may continuously be renewed.  E-2 Investors should consult legal counsel concerning Green Card options.


If I apply for an E2 Visa renewal in my home country, will this allow me to travel outside the US once my E2 Visa is approved?

Yes, if an application for an initial or renewal E-2 visa is made abroad with a U.S. Embassy, once the visa is issued, the E-2 investor has authorized entry into the U.S. after foreign travel.

If I apply for an E2 Visa renewal in my home country, will this allow me to apply for a 5-year E2 Visa instead of a 2-year E2 Visa?

The I-94 governs the length of stay in the USA, not the visa itself.  Visa validity periods are subject to reciprocity schedules


The principle of reciprocity with regard to visas means that when a foreign government imposes fees on U.S. citizens for certain types of visas, the United States will impose a reciprocal fee on citizens of that country*/area of authority for similar types of visas.   


For example, if the E-2 Visa Applicant is from Canada, a review of reciprocity schedules indicates that the visa, if approved, may issue for 5 years/60 months) whereas a national of Australia may receive a maximum validity period of  4 years/48 months.

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