E 2 Visa: What is a Treaty Investor?
The E 2 visa is for non-U.S. nationals looking to live and work in the United States who have a significant amount of money to invest in a U.S. enterprise, either into an existing operation or to start a new business venture.
The E 2 visa is open to what are known as ‘Treaty Investors’. What does this mean, and who does it apply to?
E 2 Visa Treaty Investor Nationality Requirement
The E 2 visa for Treaty Investors is a nonimmigrant visa. This means it provides time-limited permission for the visa holder to live and work in the US under the visa conditions. It can be renewed an unlimited number of times, offering the Treaty Investor the potential to stay in the United States indefinitely, provided they continue to meet the visa requirements.
The route was established to facilitate and enhance economic interaction between the United States and countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. This means the E 2 is only open to citizens of so-called Treaty countries.
As such, the first step in checking your eligibility for the E 2 visa is to confirm that your country of nationality is an E 2 visa country.
A further requirement is that a minimum of 50% of the E 2 company must be owned by persons holding the nationality of the treaty country.
This category of visa can also be granted to employees of the E 2 company. Qualifying employees must, among other requirements, hold the same nationality as the principal investor, and be working in an executive or supervisory capacity, or have special skills essential to the efficient operation of the business.
Spouses and dependants of E 2 visa holders can also apply to join the main E 2 visa holder, although they do not need to have the same nationality as the main applicant. E 2 spouses also attain authorization to work while in the US. Whereas the E-2 visa holder is restricted to work with the E-2 company, there are very few limitations on the type of work an E-2 spouse with EAD can undertake
E 2 Visa Key Requirements
One of the more complex aspects of the E 2 visa for Treaty Investors is the requirement to have made an at-risk financial investment in the E 2 company prior to making the application. You must be able to evidence you have control of the investment funds.
The E 2 investment must be placed in a real, bona fide enterprise in the US offering tangible goods or services. Speculative or passive investment such as in real estate or stocks do not qualify. The investment enterprise cannot be used as collateral to secure a loan.
Further, the investment as a whole must be deemed ‘substantial’, that is, sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. In the absence of an arbitrary minimum investment threshold, Treaty Investors may require professional guidance on the level to be considering that would satisfy E 2 adjudication.
The E 2 visa company has to show projections of significant economic contribution and cannot be considered a ‘marginal’ enterprise. It must generate significantly more income than a level that would sustain a living for you and your family and create jobs for US resident workers.
Finally, whether applying as an E 2 visa investor or employee, you will need to demonstrate during your application your intention to depart the US when your E 2 visa status comes to an end.
E 2 visa duration
E 2 Treaty Investors and E 2 visa employees are granted temporary permission to stay in the United States. The validity of the visa varies by the visa holder’s nationality. The maximum period is 5 years, which can be issued to Britons among others.
Regardless of the maximum period, E 2 visa holders are only permitted to stay in the US for a maximum period of two years at a time. 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 you cannot remain for longer than 2 years in any one stay.
Extensions can be applied to renew your E 2 status, provided you make an application within your current visa validity and can evidence that you continue to satisfy the visa conditions.
Typically, an extension will be granted for a further period of 2 years although there is no limit to the number of extensions that you can seek. That said, given that the E2 visa is a temporary visa, you must always maintain an intention to leave.
Moreover, in practice, there have been many instances of investor’s and their families with established lives in the U.S. being refused an extension and required to return to their home country. As such, the E2 visa is not necessarily the most secure option long-term.
Do you have a question about the E 2 visa?
If you are looking to live and work in the United States as an E2 visa Treaty Investor, the stakes will be high. First, it will be important to ensure the route is the best for your needs and eligibility, and preparation will be essential when building the application.
As specialist US immigration attorneys, we can guide you through the complexities of the E2 visa application process, providing expert guidance to ensure the petition, documentation and business plan are comprehensive and effective in demonstrating your eligibility.
For advice on your E2 visa application, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.