For over 200 years, versions of the E-2 visa have enabled foreign investors and their families to live and work in the United States. The origin of the E-2 investor visa arose out of treaties of friendship designed to establish close ties and promote commerce between selected countries and the U.S.
As a global superpower with resilient markets, the U.S. has proven itself time and again as a welcoming investment option. Its stable judicial system, tax benefits, sturdy infrastructure, and access to one of the world’s largest consumer markets offer a high return on investment for foreign business people.
Roughly 43,000 E-2 visas are issued every year to investors looking to expand their horizons and diversify their portfolios. Although the visa is sometimes referred to as an E-2 Green Card, it does not provide citizenship. However, due to its renewable nature, it can be extended indefinitely, so long as business operations remain viable.
What are the requirements for an E-2 investor visa?
To qualify for an E-2 investor visa, an individual must:
- Be a national of a country that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S.
- Have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a United States enterprise.
- Want to enter the U.S. with the sole aim to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is done by demonstrating that a national of the treaty country has at least 50% ownership of the enterprise and the individual has possession of operations control through a managerial position.
- Intend to leave when their business in the U.S. is completed.
- The U.S. company may also register under the E-2 visa program and petition an individual who does not have ownership of the company but has possession of operations control through a managerial position or by having an essential skill required to effectively run the U.S. businesses.
Importantly, the U.S. company must be actively engaged in commercial activities and meet the legal requirements of doing business in its state or region. You won’t qualify for an E-2 visa if it is merely a means to support you, as the underlying goal of this treaty investor visa is job creation for U.S. workers.
E-2 visa holders are usually granted a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extensions to stay, or a change of status, may be granted in increments of up to two years. There is no limit to the number of extensions a nonimmigrant may be permitted.
U.S. government regulations do not officially quantify what is regarded as a substantial investment amount, however, the unofficially recognized sum is $150,000 or more. While it’s possible for some investments in start-up contexts to be less than $100,000, these conditions make approval more challenging and are less commonly permissible.
E-2 investor visas are exclusively available to citizens of countries that have qualifying treaties with the United States. You do not generally have to reside in your country of citizenship to qualify.
E-2 Visa Duration
The processing time for an E-2 visa depends on the investor’s location. For an investor present in the U.S., the current average time is five months. There is the option of paying a premium processing fee of $2,500 to accelerate the process to 15 days. Applicants outside the U.S. may wait between two weeks to four months.
What are the benefits of an E-2 visa?
Besides indefinite renewal, E-2 investor visas come with many benefits, including:
- An investor’s spouse may obtain employment anywhere within the U.S., presenting endless opportunities for career growth.
- E-2 visa holders are allowed to spend up to 120 days within the United States without paying worldwide income taxes in the U.S.
- Once an investor establishes their business, it’s possible to sponsor specialized employees from their country of origin to work for them, thus empowering others with international work opportunities.
- An investor’s dependent children receive free education in US public schools from grades K-12, after which they may attend a university under any in-state tuition rate.
What are the steps to apply for an E-2 visa?
You can either apply for an E-2 investor visa independently or hire the help of a business immigration lawyer.
- Step One: Fill in DOS Form DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application) and DOS Form DS-156E (Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader) online. It’s important to note that you need roughly 15 supporting documents, ranging from a business plan to evidence that showcases control of investor funds. We advise acquiring all of these first before applying.
- Step Two: Pay the application fee. The filing fee varies depending on where the application is being filed. For applications made at U.S. consulates abroad the application fee is $205. The filing fee for applications filed inside the U.S. is $460. This sum is paid each time a petition is filed, including for extensions and amendments. If a spouse or dependent is going to accompany you, you will need to file for each visa being issued, along with the filing fee. There is also an additional charge of $85 for biometric services.
- Step Three: Schedule your visa appointment. It’s advisable to book it with a U.S. embassy or consulate in your current country of residence, as securing a visa outside your country of residence is more difficult. To book your appointment, you require your passport number and the ten-digit barcode from your Form DS-160 confirmation page.
- Step Four: Attend your appointment at the US embassy or consulate. Make sure to bring a printed copy of your DS-160 confirmation page, appointment letter, an ID photograph taken within the last six months, as well as all current and old passports.
Call An Investor Visa Lawyer
While it’s possible to apply for an E-2 visa without legal help, most people prefer leaving this intricate process to a qualified business immigration lawyer. A lack of understanding or misinterpretation of the requirements may be costly, result in delays and reduce the chances of approval. The Atlanta-based business immigration lawyers at Garvish Immigration Law Group have the experience and legal acumen to provide support and transparency throughout the application process, as well as ensure you stand the best chance of approval.
Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation with a proven immigration lawyer. Call us at 1.800.951.4980 to discuss how we can help you achieve your business immigration goals.
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