E-2 Investor Visa FAQs
The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa offers a number benefits to non-US nationals looking to pursue new opportunities in the USA. E-2 investors are permitted to live and do business in the US, in exchange for an investment in a US-based enterprise, either as a start-up or by acquiring an existing business.
While the E-2 visa won’t lead to a US Green Card or passport, the flip side for E-2 investors is that you shouldn’t be hit by the tax demands of citizenship or residency, provided you don’t exceed the ‘Substantial Presence Test’ – meaning only your US income (and not worldwide) should be taxed in the US.
How much do you need to invest in an E-2 investor visa?
The investment amount must be considered ‘substantial’ to be eligible for the E-2 route.
‘Substantial’ is assessed in a proportional sense. It is a subjective standard with no bright-line test or fixed threshold.
The investment must also ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment can take the enterprise to a point where it can be viable, operational and with a high chance of success.
The key take away for applicants is that there is no arbitrary figure to work to. You will need to calculate the level of investment (costs) as appropriate to the nature of your opportunity ie relating either to start-up a new business (lease, inventory, marketing, IP etc?) or for the purchase price of existing business.
Additional factors are also likely to influence the investment level, such as the industry and type of business. A consultancy practice for example should require a smaller level of investment than a manufacturing business.
There are inevitably pros and cons to this approach. While it can be more challenging for applicants to understand and pre-empt what level of investment adjudicators will accept as substantial, this degree of flexibility means it may be possible to secure the visa with significantly less investment than say the EB-5 program.
Note also that investment must represent a personal financial risk to the investor and must be in an active opportunity; passive investments, like stocks and bonds, do not qualify under the E-2.
How long does it take to get an E-2 investor visa?
E-2 visa processing times are determined largely by the US Consular post where you filed your petition (usually in your country of residence). As a general guide, you could expect E-2 visa processing to take around one to two months.
Processing can take longer if there are issues with your application. For example, where you have received a request for further information. This emphasises the importance of ensuring your application is full and complete when filed.
How long do E-2 visas last?
For each E Treaty visa country, a stipulated maximum duration applies under the respective treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. This means the maximum period of validity depends on the nationality of the applicant.
For example, British passport holders may be granted an E-2 visa for up to 5 years, with the opportunity to re-enter the US multiple times, whereas nationals of Bangladesh and Egypt may only be granted an E-2 visa for 3 months and are unable to enter more than once.
Irrespective of nationality, E-2 investors are allowed a maximum stay of two years.
What’s the difference between the length of visa and period of stay?
You can only stay in the US for a maximum period of two years under the E-2 visa, regardless of how long your visa is valid for.
If your visa permits multiple entries, you are allowed to leave and enter as many times as you like for the duration of your visa validity, but no one stay can be for longer than 2 years.
For E-2 investors with multiple entry E-2 visas in their passports, they can leave the U.S. and reenter until the expiration date of their visa and each time they reenter, they are given 2 years in E-2 status. If the visa is still valid, they must then leave the U.S. and reenter.
This means if you enter the US on the last day before your E-2 visa expires, you should be permitted a further two years in the US.
How many times can I renew my E-2 visa?
There is no limit to the number of times you can apply to renew your E-2 visa.
Each renewal is an application, requiring a petition and supporting documents to be submitted evidencing that you have met the requirements under the visa and that you continue to be eligible under the route e.g. creating at least two full time jobs for US resident workers.
Can my family come with me to the US?
Your spouse and dependent children under the age of 21 can apply to join you in the US.
You can include your family members in your application or after your visa has been granted. If granted, they will also be issued E-2 visas.
Children are allowed to enrol in school in the US under the E-2 but this permission will expire when they turn 21. At this point, they will have to apply to secure their own status, for example under the F1 visa if still undertaking college or university education.
Can my spouse work in the US?
E-2 spouses are permitted to work at any job (except for certain government positions) but should first apply for an employment authorization card (EAD) prior to taking up any employment in the US.
Can I get a Green Card as an E-2 investor?
The E-2 visa does not lead to a US Green Card, permanent residence or citizenship.
In fact, one of the requirements applicants need to evidence as part of their E-2 visa application is that they will retain sufficient ties to their country of residence, with the intention to leave the US once their business has concluded or by the end of their visa expiry, should they choose not to apply to or are not eligible for, an extension.
Take advice on your circumstances to understand all of your immigration options, including those that open holders up to a Green Card.
Do you have a question about the E-2 Investor visa?
NNU Immigration specialize in US visas. As London-based US immigration attorneys, we work with investors and entrepreneurs from across the globe to make the move into the US market through the E-2 visa route.
We can advise on suitability of the E-2 visa for your needs and circumstances, and guide you through the application process to ensure you present a robust and comprehensive submission to best represent you and your investment opportunity.
We can also support with applications for E-2 spouse and dependants.
Contact us for advice with your E-2 investor visa application.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.