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E2 Visa for investors and employees

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The E2 Treaty Investor visa allows the investor to live and work in the US to direct and develop the business.  Employees that are also nationals of the same E2 visa Country as the investor may also qualify for an E2 visa. Unlike the H1B visa category, there is no quota for E2 visas.  The investment necessary to qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status varies and there is no set minimum. For consultancy businesses, for example software businesses, this could be tens of thousands of dollars or less in some cases.  However, for smaller investments to register the business as an E2 business can be more difficult.

E2 Visa investment requirements

When you apply for E2 registration of a business you need to be in the process of investing money.  You do not necessarily have to invest all the money required to set up the business before applying.    You should however have realistic plans to establish and fund the business. Usually, the qualifying E2 visa business should eventually create employment for US citizens and residents of the US.

Nationals of many Countries can apply under the E2 visa scheme.  Unfortunately, nationals of India and China cannot apply under the E2 visa scheme unless they wish to gain entry as a spouse of an E2 visa holder.

The investment used to qualify for an E2 visa must be in an active and operating business that requires people to work in the business. Therefore businesses that do not require any employees which could include passive investments in say property or stocks and bonds do not qualify. Usually at least part of the investment should have been made before applying for E2 Treaty Investor Registration and E2 visa status. If you are buying an existing business it may be possible to apply for E2 registration based on a purchase agreement with the investment only going ahead if the visa is granted.  The business needs to be registered as an E2 Treaty investor business before you can apply for an E2 visa.

E2 Visa is much cheaper than the EB5 Immigrant Investor Green Card

For investors who do not wish to invest at least $500,000 under the EB5 immigrant investor Green Card Program the E2 treaty investor visa category (or possibly the L1 visa) is worth considering. You will usually need to create employment in the US under the E2 treaty investor scheme, but unlike the EB5 immigrant investor visa scheme you do not need to create employment for a minimum of ten people and there is no visa quota.

E2 Treaty Investor visa section contents

E2 Treaty Investor Visa Countries

Please note that new businesses based on ownership by nationals of Ecuador can no longer be registered under the E2 visa scheme.  However, Ecuador nationals can still apply for E2 visas as employees of an existing E2 registered business. 

E2 visas may only be applied for by people or companies from the following Countries:

Albania

Croatia

Korea (South)

Romania

Argentina

Czech Republic

Kosovo

Serbia

Armenia

Denmark

Kyrgyzstan

Senegal

Australia

Ecuador

Latvia

Singapore

Austria

Egypt

Liberia

Slovak Republic

Azerbaijan

Estonia

Lithuania

Slovenia

Bahrain

Ethiopia

Macedonia

Spain

Bangladesh

Finland

Mexico

Sri Lanka

Belgium

France

Moldova

Suriname

Bolivia

Georgia

Mongolia

Sweden

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Germany

Montenegro

Switzerland

Bulgaria

Grenada

Morocco

Thailand

Cameroon

Honduras

Netherlands

Togo

Canada

Iran

Norway

Trinidad and Tobago

Chile

Ireland

Oman

Tunisia

China (Taiwan)

Italy

Pakistan

Turkey

Columbia

Jamaica

Panama

Ukraine

Congo (Brazzaville)

Japan

Paraguay

United Kingdom

Congo (Kinshasa)

Jordan

Philippines

Yugoslavia

Costa Rica

Kazakhstan

Poland

 

 

E2 Treaty Investor Applicant Requirements

Investors from qualifying countries may apply for an E2 treaty investor visa in order to 'Direct and Develop' their business. They may also apply for E2 visas for key managerial and specialist employees.

In contrast to the L-1 visa, there is no requirement that such employees have worked for the business outside the US for a set period of time, and there is no requirement that the E2 visa applicant continue their overseas operations while in the US.

E2 treaty Investor applicants should meet the following conditions:

  • There has been and/or will be a substantial investment in the US. There is no specific cash threshold defined. Some businesses, for example in the IT sector, may qualify with investments of less than $10,000. Investments could include travel, sales and marketing, equipment purchases and a range of other expenses.

  • Risk Capital has been Committed to the E2 Treaty Investor business: the investment must entail some risk to the investor (it may not be all in the form of unguaranteed credit). You will probably need to have an office lease agreement in the US.

  • The investor will control his/her investment. E2 visa applicants will usually need to have at least a fifty percent ownership of the US business.

  • The cash invested is not marginal when compared to the total investment. In general, unless it is common to the industry to have higher amounts of 'leveraging' (such as in the property industry) 51% of the investment should be in the form of cash equity. Where debt is secured against other assets of the investor, it is considered to be 'at risk', and may be considered as part of the equity invested.

  • The enterprise is (or will be) active. In order to be 'Directing and Developing' their investment, the E2 Treaty Investor should be involved in managing the business.

  • US workers are (or will be) employed. The treaties envisage more than just creating a job for the principal investor, but there is no requirement to employ a particular number of US citizens or residents. It should be possible to meet the requirements by employing only a small number of employees. Showing that you will employ two or three employees in the next one or two years will often be enough.

  • You should have a business plan detailing the future plans for a new business.

  • Details of the skills, qualifications, and work history should be provided for any prospective employees of the E2 Treaty Investor, and if appropriate for the investor themselves.

  • That the principal investor, and any other E2 visa staff, must be able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E2 status, since the E2 is a non-immigrant visa category. However, the E2 Treaty investor visa can continue to be extended indefinitely.
     

E2 Treaty visa application process

  • You contact us

  • workpermit.com considers the application. If your company, the position and the candidate are eligible for registration as an E2 Treaty Investor, we e-mail to you:

    • A formal instruction form to return

    • Details of any additional data required, and confirmation of which documents we need

  • You email or post documents to workpermit.com at 1st Floor, Unit 56, Skyline Business Village, London, E14 9TS

  • Workpermit.com completes your E2 Treaty registration application and submits it to the Treaty Visa section at the appropriate US consulate or Embassy – processing takes 4-6 weeks

  • After registration as an E2 Treaty Investor business, visas can be obtained for principal applicants (if they are a person rather than a company), employees and dependants in about two weeks. You provide us with relevant information and we prepare and submit the application to the Treaty Visa section.
     

E2 Visa Employees

Once the principal applicant has obtained registration as an E2 Treaty Investor they can obtain E2 visas for qualifying employees who are the same nationality as the investor. Obtaining the E2 registration usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, and obtaining E2 employee visas usually takes about two weeks.


Two types of employee qualify for E visas:
 

E2 Executives, Managers and Supervisors

Executives and Managers should be in a senior position and manage the whole business or a key part of the business.  In larger businesses the owners of the business may not actually in practice spend much time in the USA. Such personnel should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial pedigree, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year in the last three years, as there is with the L-1 visa. Documents required for the application would likely include job description, resume, and supporting letter from the employer.

E2 Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers:

This is a good way of employing highly skilled level people over in the US. You should demonstrate that:

  • The employee has specialized knowledge of the business which may be difficult to find in the US.

  • The employee is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the USA.

Note that, a 'visa issuance fee' is often required in addition to the usual visa application fee for E visas. This usually amounts to $160.

Family and dependents of E2 visa holders

Spouses and dependents of E2 visa workers are can also apply for E2 visas, and will normally be granted the same period of stay as the principal E2 visa holder. E2 spouses and dependents do not need to be the same nationality as the principle applicant.

Spouses are allowed to work. However, it may be advisable to apply for work authorisation. Children under the age of 21 can study but unfortunately are not allowed to work under the E2 Treaty Investor visa category.

 

Further information, help, and advice

Workpermit.com's team of specialists has over 25 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US and other Countries. All applications for US visas are dealt with by an in-house US qualified lawyer who is also typically a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at london@workpermit.com