E2 Treaty Investor Visas
The E-2 nonimmigrant visas are for foreign nationals who want to come to the United States by investing funds in a new or existing business. The U.S. has treaties of commerce and navigation with many countries that allow citizens of those countries to obtain a visa to invest a substantial amount of funds in a bona fide U.S. business.
When applying for an E-2 investor visa, one must prove:
- The treaty investor is a national of a country with which the United States has a treaty of commerce and navigation.
- The treaty investor has invested a substantial amount of capital in a real, operating business in the United States.
- The assets that have been invested are at risk.
- The funds that were invested were obtained through lawful means.
- The E-2 visa applicant is coming to the U.S. to develop, direct and control the investment, most often shown through at least 50% ownership of the business.
- The treaty investor will depart the United States when their status expires.
Many of the requirements for the visa are not strictly defined and the required elements may not be easy to prove. When investing in smaller enterprises, applicants may have difficulty proving that their investment is substantial.
There is no bright line minimal amount that must be invested. Instead, the applicant must show that the amount invested is substantial when compared to the total cost of the purchasing or establishing the business and is enough to demonstrate the E-2 investor’s commitment to the success of the new business.
The investment does not need to be a cash investment. Equipment, inventory, supplies and other assets may be included as well.
Many businesses do not generate a profit right away. However, treaty investors must demonstrate that their investment will generate enough income to support more than just themselves and their families, if not immediately then in the near future. Most E-2 visa applicants overcome this obstacle by providing five-year business plans projecting their company’s future growth and success.
Foreign nationals may apply for treaty investor status with USCSIS if they are lawfully in the United States or at the U.S. Consulate if they are abroad. The spouse and the unmarried, minor children of the E-2 investor may also qualify for E-2 status. Applicants who changed their status to E-2 while in the U.S. will also need to consular process to obtain an E-2 visa in their passport if they later need to travel out of the country during the course of their stay.