What is an E-2 visa?
An E-2 is a visa is for a foreign citizen of an “investor treaty” country, coming to the U.S. to manage the operations of an enterprise in which the investor has invested or is actively in the process of investing a “substantial amount” of capital. Key employees of the business may also obtain this visa.
There is no set amount in the Regulations that qualifies as substantial. An investment of at least $200,000 is usually considered substantial.
Who qualifies for an E-2 visa?
To qualify for an E-2 visa, you:
- Must be a citizen of the country that has an investor treaty with the U.S.
- Must be serving the company in a capacity that is managerial or executive in nature or involves skills essential to the operation of the business (key employee); or are a 50% owner of the company
- Personally be investing or the company has invested substantial amount that is at risk, meaning subject to potential loss if the business does not succeed, in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S.
- The U.S. company will participate in active trade or rendering of services
- Intent to depart out of the U.S. at the conclusion of trading duties in the U.S.
What are the benefits of applying under this visa category?
An advantage of the E-2 visa over work visas like H-1B is that any specific educational background is not required. You may also travel in and out of the U.S. or remain in the U.S. continuously until your E-2 visa expires. The E-2 visa may be valid up to 5 years, with the chance of 2-year extension. The duration of status, however, can only be for a maximum of 2 years, which means that the E-2 visa holder has to depart the U.S. and re-enter to extend their status or apply for an extension of status by filing such an application in the US. A big advantage over H-1B and L-1A/L-1B is that you may extend the E-2 indefinitely.
How can an attorney help in this process?
E-2 visa applications are difficult to compile and can be extremely time intensive. Proving “substantial investment” is also difficult when the amount of investment is lower than the benchmark amount. In such cases, a strong argument must be made that such investment is substantial in the particular business environment. Knowledge of what the immigration service or department of state wants to receive from the petitioner is vital to success.