Nationals of a treaty country (with a trade agreement with the US) who wish to invest in a US company may be eligible for the US E-2 visa.
In this informative guide, you will be able to learn how to obtain the E-2 visa for Mexicans, Colombians, if you are in Korea, in Argentina or in any other eligible country. If after reviewing it, you still have questions, count on our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles so that they can help you in this process and thus avoid making mistakes.
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Table of Contents
What Is The United States E-2 Visa?
The E-2 visa, also known as the investor visa, allows aliens from a treaty country to be admitted to the United States. To do this, a substantial amount of capital must be invested in some US business.
Some employees of the treaty investor, or who are employees of a qualifying organization, may also be eligible to apply for the US E-2 visa.
As with the E-1 visa, a treaty country is understood to be a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, or a qualified international agreement, or has been determined to be a country qualified by legislation.
What Type Of Visa Is The E-2?
The E-2 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa. This allows holders to be admitted to the US temporarily, as long as they respect and follow the primary purpose of the visa.
What Benefits Does The E-2 Visa Grant?
The E-2 visa grants several benefits, such as:
- Working legally in the United States for the US company or organization in which capital was invested;
- The period of stay in the US can be for a long time and with unlimited extensions of stay. However, it can only be done as long as the E-2 status is maintained (for example, the business remains active);
- Approvals for E-2 visas tend to be faster than other visas and are not subject to an annual limit or fee;
- Allows holders to bring their family members (spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21) to the US;
- Spouses of the holder of E-2 status may seek employment through work authorization through the E-2 visa;
- You can buy real estate in the United States.
How To Get The US E-2 Visa In 2023
The process to obtain the E-2 visa follows two paths depending on your location at the time of applying:
Application Within The United States
Treaty investors who are in the United States in lawful nonimmigrant status (for example, on a United States tourist visa), may apply for a change of status to E-2 classification. They will do this by filing with USCIS Form I-129, petition for a nonimmigrant worker.
Eligible employers may file Form I-129 to request a change of status on behalf of employees of treaty investors who are in the US in lawful nonimmigrant status.
Application Outside The United States
Aliens outside the US cannot apply for E-2 classification using Form I-129. To apply for this visa from outside the US, you must follow these steps:
- Fill in the online Form DS-160 with the respective data;
- During the form process, a photo that meets the requirements must be submitted;
- Pay the E-2 visa application fee;
- Schedule a visa interview appointment at a US embassy or consulate;
- Gather all the necessary documentation for the application;
- Go to the interview with the US embassy or consulate on the indicated date.
After the E-2 visa is issued, the alien can now apply for admission to the US at an American port of entry.
E-2 Investment Visa Requirements In 2023
E-2 visa requirements for the United States vary, depending on whether the national applicant is a treaty investor or an employee of the treaty investor. Such requirements are broken down below:
Requirements For E-2 Treaty Investors
- They must be nationals of a country with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
- Have invested or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide United States enterprise;
- They intend to enter the US solely to direct or develop the investment enterprise.
Requirements For Employees Of The E-2 Treaty Investor
- They must have the nationality of their principal alien employer (who has the nationality of a treaty country);
- They meet the definition of “employee” established by current law;
- Will be involved in executive or supervisory functions, or being employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
If the principal alien employer is not an individual, it must be an organization or business that is at least 50% owned by individuals in the US who are nationals of the treaty country. These owners must:
- Maintain nonimmigrant status as a treaty investor, or;
- If they are not in the US, they must be classified as nonimmigrant treaty investors if they seek admission to the country.
Considerations And Terminology To Keep In Mind
The US government uses the following terminology for E-2 visa eligibility:
For Treaty Investors
Bona fide enterprise: Are those real business or entrepreneurial companies that are active and operational that produce services or goods for profit. These companies must comply with the applicable legal requirements to carry out their business within the jurisdiction.
Substantial amount of capital:
- Substantial in relation to the total cost of purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one;
- Sufficient to secure the financial commitment of the treaty investor to the successful operation of the enterprise;
- It has a magnitude that supports the chances that the treaty investor can successfully develop and run an enterprise. The lower the cost of the business, the higher the investment must be to be considered substantial.
Investment: It is the capital placed by the treaty investor, including their funds and other assets, in order to generate profits. The capital must be subject to losses that are partial or total in the event that the investment fails. The treaty investor must show that their funds are legal and have not been obtained directly or indirectly from criminal activities.
For Employees Of The Treaty Investor
Executive or supervisory functions: Are all those activities that mainly provide the employee of the treaty investor, control and ultimate responsibility for the general operation of the enterprise or organization, or a main component of it;
Special Qualifications: Are those skills and/or aptitudes that allow the services of the treaty investor’s employee to be indispensable for the effective operation of the treaty enterprise. There are several circumstances that may meet this requirement, such as:
- The level of demonstrated experience in the employee’s operational area;
- Whether other individuals possess the employee’s specific skills;
- The salary that special qualifications may demand;
- Whether the qualifications and skills are available in the US.
Knowing a foreign culture or language does not by itself meet this requirement. This is because in certain cases, an essential skill may become more common in the future and therefore no longer qualify.
What Documents Are Required To Apply For The US E-2 Visa?
The documentation required to apply for the E-2 visa is as follows:
- Passport valid for 6 months beyond the period of stay in the US;
- Printed confirmation page of form DS-160;
- Receipt of payment of the application fee;
- Investor application through Form DS-156E, necessary in case of being executives, managers or essential employees;
- Business plan;
- Financial documents related to taxes, such as tax returns, balance sheets and others;
- Curriculum vitae and other qualification elements. For example, degrees, transcripts or certificates;
- Documentation that establishes the origin of the investment;
- Stock certificates, articles of incorporation, minutes of board of directors meetings and others;
- Documents that demonstrate the nationality of the investors and that of the company;
- Evidence of investment in the US, such as signed contracts, actual purchases and others;
- Documentation evidencing the company’s income and the number of lawful permanent resident, US citizens it employs or plans to employ.
What Terms And Conditions Does The United States E-2 Visa Have?
Both treaty investors and employees of treaty investors can only work in the activity for which they were approved when classifying for the E-2 visa. Additionally, employees of investors in E-2 status may work for the parent company of the treaty organization or a subsidiary in these cases:
- A relationship has been established between the organizations;
- Subsidiary employment requires essential, executive, or supervisory skills;
- The conditions and terms of employment have not changed.
USCIS must approve any material change, such as a major merger, event, or acquisition that affects the treaty employee’s previously approved relationship with the trade treaty organization. Any substantial change or continuation of the alien’s employment must be notified to USCIS using Form I-129.
Note: Petitions must include evidence showing that the affected treaty investor or employee of the affected treaty investor continues to qualify for E-2 status. If an employer no longer hires an E-2 nonimmigrant, they must report to USCIS upon termination of employment. Non-substantial changes do not need to be reported to USCIS.
The investment enterprise may not be marginal. A marginal enterprise is considered one that does not have sufficient capacity to generate income (present or future), more than enough to provide a minimum life for the treaty investor and their family.
A new enterprise could be considered non-marginal even without having the ability to produce income within 5 years from the date the treaty investor obtains their E-2 visa.
How Much Money Do I Need For An E-2 Investor Visa In The USA?
Although the amount to be made for an investment must be substantial, the law does not define how much money is needed or what is the minimum amount for an investment. However, it is recommended that you be prepared to invest around $100,000.
There are investors who receive an E-2 visa for an investment of $65,000 in a cleaning business and others obtain their E-2 visa for an investment of more than $700,000 for land businesses. As you can see, it is something very variable.
What Is The Cost Of The E-2 Visa?
The cost of the E-2 visa is $205. However, additional fees may be due depending on the applicant’s country of origin. Once all fees are paid, it is important to keep your receipts.
In case of using the Form I-907, application for priority processing to expedite the processing time, it will have an additional cost of $2,500.
Which Countries Can Get The US E-2 Visa In 2023?
Aliens who wish to obtain an E-2 visa as a treaty investor or as an employee of a treaty investor must be nationals of the following countries:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina;
- China (Taiwan);
- Congo (Brazzaville and Kinshasa);
- Costa Rica;
- South Korea;
- New Zealand;
- Czech Republic;
- Slovak Republic;
- Sri Lanka;
- Trinidad and Tobago;
- United Kingdom;
For more information, you can access the US Department of State website.
How To Bring Relatives With The E-2 Investment Visa?
- Both investors and employees of treaty investors may be accompanied or followed by their spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age.
- For these family members, the nationality doesn’t need to be the same as that of the treaty investor or employee.
- Spouses and children of E-2 nonimmigrant holders as dependents are generally granted the same period of stay as the holder.
If family members are in the US and are seeking a change of status or extension of stay under E-2 classification, they can do so through a Form I-539, Application for Extension or Change of Nonimmigrant Status.
Can Family Members Of E-2 Visa Holders Work In The United States?
The spouses of holders under current E-2 or E-2S status are authorized to work. However, spouses of long-term investors in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (known as CNMI E-2 investors) will need to apply for employment authorization.
- A Form I-94, valid arrival/departure record with a note evidencing E-2S nonimmigrant status;
- A valid Form I-94 with a note reflecting E-2 status, accompanied by notification from USCIS regarding the new admission code;
- Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Spouses who have employment authorization dependent on their E-2 status are not required to apply for an EAD using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. However, they may submit it if they wish, this will serve as evidence of identity and admissible employment authorization;
- The EAD that has expired with additional documentation to show that the EAD has been automatically extended.
How Do Spouses Qualify For An Automatic EAD Extension?
The E-2 visa for spouses allows them to qualify for an automatic extension of the current EAD. To do so, they must meet the following requirements:
- File the application to renew Form I-765 based on their same status;
- Possess a valid I-94 form showing E-2 or E-2S status.
Automatic extensions of the EAD will remain in effect until the first occurs:
- The expiration date of the dependent spouse’s Form I-94 showing E-2 or E-2S status is met;
- Date the EAD renewal application is approved or denied;
- 540 days from the date indicated on the Card Expires on the front of the EAD.
Evidence To Be Submitted By The Spouses
Eligible spouses may submit the following evidence to their employers as an automatic extension of their EAD:
- Form I-94 identifying current E-2 or E-2S status;
- EAD Renewal Application Form I-797C filed reflecting category (a)(17) as “selected class”;
- The EAD that expired under the same category A17.
How Long Does The E-2 Visa Last In The United States?
- Investors and employees of the treaty investor will have a maximum initial stay of two years.
- Applications for extensions of stay or change of status to the E-2 category may be granted in increments of up to 2 years each.
There is no limit to the maximum number of extensions for the E-2 visa. However, all immigrants with E-2 status must maintain the intent to leave the US once their status expires or is terminated.
E-2 nonimmigrants who travel abroad and are admitted by a CPB officer can get an automatic two-year period of readmission once they enter the US.
What Is The E-2 Visa Processing Time In 2023?
The E-2 visa processing time currently ranges from approximately 5 to 8 months. However, it is possible to use Form I-907 to speed up the processing time to a much shorter time.
Can You switch From An E-2 Visa To A Green Card?
The E-2 visa does not offer a direct path to the Green Card, so it is not possible to obtain legal permanent residence through this visa. However, E-2 visa holders often find themselves married to a US citizen after spending significant time in the US.
If the E-2 visa holder applies for the Green Card through marriage to a US citizen, the E-2 status holder will not be allowed to travel outside of the United States.
The reality is that you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident through other indirect routes, as long as you do not violate your E-2 status.
If you want to know the legal ways in which you can apply for residency in the US, check our article dedicated to how to get a Green Card. There we explain the many ways in which you may be eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions About The E-2 Visa
There are no travel restrictions with the E-2 visa. This allows you to travel as many times as necessary before the visa expires. USCIS also does not impose any time limits to travel abroad.
The EB-5 visa requires an investment ranging from $900,000 to $1,800,000 and must generate 10 jobs for US workers. On the other hand, the E-2 visa does not have an established amount of investment nor does it require a minimum number of jobs. In addition, the EB-5 visa is an immigrant visa, which allows you to obtain the Green Card.
Once the E-2 visa is approved, the consulate can deliver the passports by home courier service. In most cases, it can be received within 3-5 business days after the visa interview.
Why Choose The Immigration Lawyers Of Lluis Law In Los Angeles To Process The E-2 Visa?
The immigration attorneys at Lluis Law have more than 50 years of combined experience helping nationals process different types of American visas. Our track record of representing investors is exceptional, so you will be in good hands at all times.
The firm not only has the necessary experience to help you get your initial visa approved. They will also help you maximize your chances of approval for a future E-2 visa renewal.
Our team of professionals in investment visas are ready to advise you and give you the most complete information you need at all times. You are just one step away from having the peace of mind you deserve for the processing of the E-2 visa. Contact us today for a personalized consultation.
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