What is the E-2 Visa?
The E-2 Visa is known as the Treaty Investor Visa and is a nonimmigrant visa designed for individuals to come to the United States for the purposes of engaging in trade between the U.S. and the applicant’s home country.
The purpose of the visa is to enhance trade and economic activity between the U.S. and the treaty countries.
The visa is not an immigrant visa, meaning that it does not lead directly to a green card or permanent residence.
There is a significant number of criteria and requirements attached to the Treaty Investor Visa application and candidates must demonstrate how they meet the eligibility criteria.
Currently, there are 80 treaty countries whose nationals may be eligible for this visa.
In relation to the financial requirement, visa holders must have concrete intentions to invest in a U.S. business and there is also a requirement for individuals to establish employment for U.S. employees.
There is no minimum investment threshold but the investment must be “substantial.” In some cases, specific employees of a qualifying organization may be eligible to apply for the E-2 Visa.
The purpose of the E-2 Visa is to allow a treaty investor (i.e., the visa applicant) to enter the United States and engage in activities that develop the investment enterprise.
E2 Visa requirements
There are a number of requirements for this visa as outlined below.
To qualify for E-2 classification, the applicant should show the following:
- They are a citizen of one of the treaty countries
- They have invested or are in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- They intend to come to the U.S. for the purposes of developing the business. This may be demonstrated by showing a minimum of 50% ownership of the enterprise or operational control of the business in a relevant managerial position
The investor is required to place capital (funds or other assets) at risk.
For the purpose of the immigration requirements, this means that the capital may be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.
Applicants must show that the funds must not have been obtained directly or indirectly from illegal activities.
The ‘substantial capital’ requirement refers to:
- The investment is substantial in relation to the total cost of purchasing an established enterprise or creating a new one
- The capital is sufficient to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the growth of the business
- It is large enough to ensure that the investor will be committed to successfully developing and directing the enterprise
While an exact figure is not specified, it is recommended that the investment be at least between $100,000 – $200,000.
Treaty investor employee requirements
In order to be eligible for the E-2 Visa, the employee of the treaty investor must meet the following requirements:
- The employee has the same nationality as the employer (who is a national of a treaty country)
- They meet the definition of an ‘employee’
- Their role is of an executive or supervisory nature or they have specific skills or qualifications required by the business. These special skills or qualities include:
- Proven expertise in a specific area
- Whether others might reasonably have these specific skills
- The salary that the skills can achieve
- Whether the skills are available to access in the U.S.
How to apply for the E2 Visa
Depending on the situation of the applicant, the application process is different for treaty traders and investors.
A treaty trader and an investor must register their business with the E-Visa Unit in their U.S. consulate or embassy.
They should submit a comprehensive set of supporting documents and await the decision of the unit. The unit may then organize an interview with the treaty trader or treaty investor.
Employees of a company applying for the E-2 Visa are only required to make their appointments through the visa appointment service.
On the day of the interview, they must bring their supporting documents.
Once all the information has been submitted and the case is under review by the E-Visa Unit, the applicant should wait for a decision.
It may not be possible to pay for a faster processing time, but applicants will be notified whether this an option at the time of submission.
Once the case has been reviewed, the applicant or their legal representative will be notified that the case has been reviewed, given a list of documents required for further examination, or given an appointment date.
Applicants are required to attend an interview within 90 days of this invitation.
Document checklist for E2 Visa
There is an extensive checklist of documents required for the E-2 Visa application.
You must satisfy immigration officials that your investment funds legally belong to you, and that your have invested significantly into the business, with the possibility of risk.
Other required documents include:
- Completed and signed Form DS-160
- Completed and signed Form DS-165E
- Evidence of your nationality and the nationality of your business
- A letter issued by your employer outlining the nature of your position and your specific skills valuable to the business (where relevant)
- Proof of having invested in the U.S.
- Documents relating to your family members (e.g., birth or marriage certificates) (where dependents are being included on the application)
- Valid passport with an expiry date lasting at least six months beyond the intended period of stay
- Passport photograph
U.S.-based residents may submit their documents at their local United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office. Applicants outside the U.S. can submit their application to their local U.S. consulate.
E2 Visa to green card
The E-2 Visa does not lead directly to a green card (also know as permanent residence).
Individuals who wish to extend the green card may do so as many times as they wish. If approved, the visa can be extended for up to two years at a time.
However, the applicant must demonstrate that they intend to leave the United States when their visa expires or is terminated.
In order to be eligible to apply for a green card, the individual may be required to leave the United States and apply for a new immigrant visa category from their home country
There may be some circumstances where you can be sponsored by an employer to move to a new category that leads to a green card, however, you should ensure that you are not in breach of immigration rules.
It may be valuable for you to consult an immigration lawyer to discuss your individual circumstances to understand the options available to you.
Terms and conditions of the E-2 Visa
As with all visas, there are rules that must be followed if the individual is to stay in the United States legally.
The primary condition is that the visa holder may only work under the conditions for which their visa was approved.
Some of the conditions of the E-2 status include USCIS overview of the organization’s structure.
USCIS must approve any substantive change in the terms of E2 status (e.g., where the organization is subject to a merger, acquisition, sale of a relevant division, or other event that affects the individuals previously approved relationship with the enterprise)
In the event of a ‘substantive change,’ the individual must notify USCIS by filing a new Form I-129 and request an extension of stay for the treaty investor or employee in question.
The processing time for the E-2 Visa depends on where the applicant applies from. If the investor is based in the U.S., they can expect to wait for approximately five months for a decision on their application.
Where the premium processing service is available, this can be reduced to 15 days.
If applying from outside the US, applicants can expect to wait between two weeks and four months, depending on the current processing time of their embassy or consulate.
Use the US embassy page to find out your local consulate.
The E-2 Visa application fee is $205. It may be possible to pay an additional fee to have your case processed quicker.
The premium processing fee can cost up to $1,440. As well as the application fee, applicants must demonstrate that they have the capital available according to the terms of the visa.
There may be additional associated costs with gathering documents required for the application (e.g., certified bank statements, business entity formation costs, audits, accounts, etc.)
How can Total Law help?
The complexity of the E-2 Visa application cannot be overstated. It is an immigration route that not only requires a significant financial investment, but also time to complete the application in detail.
Working with an experienced immigration lawyer can take away much of the stress involved in the process.
Total Law’s immigration specialists are experts in assisting clients obtain their visa to work in the United States.
The E-2 Visa carries with it high financial risk and it may be beneficial for you to work with a legal expert who can support you with your application.
Some of the support we provide includes:
- Assessing your eligibility for the E-2 Visa route
- Advising on the supporting documents required to submit with your application
- Providing guidance on the requirements for any dependents
- Working closely with the client to develop the strongest possible application based on your business and investment
- Liaising with US immigration services on your behalf throughout the application process
We prepare the strongest possible argument to demonstrate why your visa application should be accepted.
Speak to our immigration advisors today for a confidential discussion about how we can assist you, simply call us on +1 844 290 6312.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa and does not lead directly to a green card. In fact, if an individual is suspected of using the E-2 route as a way of coming to the United States for the purpose of settlement, the visa will not be approved.
However, despite this, there are a number of options available for individuals who wish to explore their eligibility for a green card.
Some of these options include:
- Employer sponsorship (PERM process)
- Permanent residence through the national interest waiver
- Family-based application for residency
- The EB-5 Visa route towards residency
You should always consult a qualified immigration lawyer if you have any questions about your case.
The immigration rules do not provide a specific amount of money required for investment, but it is generally accepted that the applicant must invest at least $100,000 to be granted the visa.
The rules state that the amount of money must be a “substantial investment.”
The E2 Visa is granted for an initial period of two years and there is no maximum limit for how many times it may be renewed.
However, the visa holder must commit to depart the United States at the end of their visa.