What is the E2 Visa?
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is temporary and can be granted for up to 5 years. (The E-2 visa should not be confused with the EB-5 Investor Visa which is a an immigrant petition for a Green Card and requires a $500,000 investment in a regional center that is in a targeted employment area or a 1 million dollar investment that will employ 10 or more employees.)
In August 2011, USCIS created initiatives to increase jobs in the U.S. and established 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 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.
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.
What Do I Need to Obtain My E2 Visa?
The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
- SubstantialityThe investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in 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.
- $ 50,000.00
- 75 to 100%
- 50 to 60%
- Real & Operating Business
The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the 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.
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