What to Note When Applying for an E-2 Visa

What to Note When Applying for an E-2 Visa

When attempting to apply for a petition for an E-2 visa, it is important to take note of the key E-2 visa requirements for investors and individual guidelines. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines an E-2 investment as “the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. Your investment may be to establish a new business venture or purchase a pre-existing business.”

An E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa reserved for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the United States. E-2 investor visa permits foreign investors to enter and work in the U.S. based on a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise.

There are two categories of investor visas such as the E-2 and the EB-5 investor green card which is an employment based fifth preference category. If you would like to learn more about this category speak with an immigration attorney.

Advantages of an E-2 Visa

On an E-2 visa, beneficiaries may:

  • Work lawfully in the company that is the investment vehicle in the U.S
  • Travel overseas and return into the U.S
  • Remain in the U.S. on a prolonged period with unlimited two-year extensions as long as eligibility for an E-2 visa is maintained
  • Be accompanied by dependents under 21 years of age, relatives and spouse. The spouse may also be able to work in the U.S. while the dependents attend school, colleges and universities and no separate student visa will be required.

Disadvantages of an E-2 Visa

Some of the disadvantages of an E-2 visa are:

  • E-2 visas are available only to nationals of the treaty countries listed that have investment treaties with the U.S.
  • Beneficiaries are strictly to work only for the specific employer or self-owned business that acted as the E-2 visa sponsor
  • E-2 visas are approved for two years at a time which slows down the application/extension process.

Important E-2 Visa Requirements for Investors

The E-2 visa minimum investment requirement is that the applicant invests in a bona fide business. Failure to do this, the applicant will not be eligible. A bona fide business is defined by the immigration authorities as “a genuine” active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.

Some of the supporting documents to show that a business is a bona fide are:

  • Notice of assignment of an Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Tax Returns
  • Financial statements
  • Quarterly wage reports or payroll summaries (For example W-2s and W-3)
  • Business organizational chart
  • Business licenses
  • Bank Statements, utility bills, and advertisements/telephone directory listings
  • Contracts or customer/vendor agreements
  • Escrow documents
  • Lease agreements

The Investor MUST Be a Citizen of the Treaty Country

Treaty countries presently include:

  • Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Bulgaria
  • Cameron, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France
  • Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
  • Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland
  • Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden Switzerland
  • Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Yugoslavia.

It is vital to note that the applicant must be a legitimate citizen of one of the above countries mentioned and his or her passport must be valid in order to complete the E-2 visa application requirements.

The Investment Must Be Significant

To successfully ensure the operation of the enterprise it must be significant. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise. While several investments of less than $100,000 receive an approval, it is safe to say that the investment capital and reserves should total no less than $100,000.

Corresponding personal and or business bank statements along with an itemized list of goods, materials purchased for the start-up and financial accounting documentation is evidence that can be used to prove that the investment is substantial. It is also a good idea to prepare a business plan that demonstrates the applicant’s projected success.

The Investor Must Place the Funds at Risk

“At risk” means that the investor is to be irrevocably committed. If the investor is able to walk away from the investment without losing anything, then he or she is likely to not qualify for an E-2 visa. The finances should have already been spent towards the startup and purchase of a U.S. business or enterprise. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed. The investment must be at risk of being lost due to the business or enterprise being unsuccessful. To be on the safe side, the investment amount should be put in an escrow account and have it transferred if the E-2 visa application is approved.

If an existing business is being purchased; everything about that business and its counterparts must be known. It is key to learn all the elements of the business and come to an educated conclusion of how well the business is performing presently and how successful it is projected to be. An escrow account is even more important for those buying an existing business. In this particular situation the buyer and the seller of the business will agree on the terms and conditions of the business purchase and how to later transfer the money after reaching a conclusion.

The Investment Must Be a Legitimate Operating Enterprise

A genuine operating enterprise means that the enterprise must be offering a tangible good or service. For example restaurants, retail stores, medical offices, etc. Speculative or idle investment such as real estate investments, undeveloped land, or stocks held by an investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise is not eligible. Similarly, uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

Our Team of Attorneys Can Help You

Do you need help with submitting an E-2 visa application? Our team of attorneys have years of experience in assisting investors get their start-up in the U.S. Call Gambacorta Law Office today at 847 443 9303 for more information and to get started right away.