E2 Visa Application Process Guide
The E2 Treaty Investor visa is available to non-US nationals coming to the US to develop and direct operations of an enterprise in which they have invested or are in the process of substantially investing in.
Critical to a successful E2 visa application is not only ensuring you meet the eligibility criteria, but also that you follow the E2 visa application process to the letter to avoid issues, delays or even refusal of your application.
If you are confident you meet the visa criteria, you will need to make a formal application for your visa, in line with the following steps:
E2 company registration
First, the company in question will need to be registered with the E-visa unit. You will need to file the form DS-160 electronically with the American Embassy. Next you will need to visit the visa appointment service website to create an account, pay the MRV fee and send in your passport via courier once you have attended the visa interview.
The final stage is to send in your supporting documents needed. The documents list is extensive and will vary from case to case. Once your information has been received, it will be reviewed and additional documents may be requested. It currently takes 30 days to review an E-2 visa.
Documents you will need:
- A valid passport, with at least 6 months left until it expires.
- Evidence of business being established including funds transferred and any expenditure so far. This will include bank records, purchase contracts, asset valuations, payment details and any other supporting evidence.
- Any documents supporting funding source such as parent company earnings, loan agreements and any asset sale receipts etc.
- To prove the enterprise is legitimate you should send your state registration or business license.
- Any federal employer ID.
- Business premises lease or sale contract.
- New companies will need a 5 – year business plan (discussed in more detail below).
- Budget plan for the projected 5 year period, with details of any expenditure already laid out.
If applicable, you will also have to provide information to evidence your business operations, such as:
- Client contracts
- Any stock certificates
- Evidence of funds held in escrow that are subject to the E-2 visa approval
- Any partnership agreements
- Bank records from the past three months
- Client invoices
- Website details, brochures, news articles
This list is by no means exhaustive, and you would be advised to seek legal help to ensure you are submitting all the required documents.
E2 application form and supporting documents
You will be required to complete the DS-160 form online for your application and provide supporting documents, such as a valid passport with a minimum of six months beyond your intended period of stay.
E2 Business Plan
To create a business plan you will need to include sufficient and relevant information to satisfy the E-2 requirements. There is no formal or prescriptive format to creating a business plan, but you will need to ensure you cover the following detail:
The plan should include a detailed five-year profit and loss forecast. You will need to demonstrate that your investment is sufficient for creating an operational business and to meet any growth projections.
Your plan will need to provide the financial projections and elaborate on exactly how your business will be successful and profitable enough to not only support you as the investor, but any dependents you may have and your employees. You should also demonstrate how you will be creating new jobs for the duration of your visa, which is a maximum of 5 years.
It is important that this plan is realistic and achievable. Should you wish to renew your visa you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved the goals set out in your original business plan, and have all the supporting documentation to back it up.
You will also need to show that you are in control of and have possession of your investment funds. There is documentary evidence that will be required to back this up such as sales of any assets, savings and income from employment.
The size of your investment will need to be proportionately substantial to the total cost of the business venture. This test is relative to your business and doesn’t have a defined minimum threshold. The onus is on you to demonstrate that your investment amount qualifies as substantial with relation to your enterprise’s specific needs.
You will also need an at-risk element detailed in the plan which will include start up costs, lease, fees etc to prove that you will have an operational business from the day of arrival in the United States.
With many corporate structures permissible under the E2 visa, you will be required to decide which your company will operate under.
A detailed management structure will also need to be determined. To be the E2 visa holder, you will need to demonstrate the practical plan showing you as the director and developer of the business within the corporate structure and personnel strategy.
Evidentiary documents will be required to demonstrate that a minimum of 50 percent of the business is owned by you as a citizen of a treaty country.
The personnel strategy will need to provide the structure from management, with you as the director/developer of the company, through to all individuals performing both the skilled and unskilled labor demands of the business.
Your plan will need to demonstrate your ability to create jobs for resident US workers within the structure of your company. You will need to disclose the number of US jobs, what roles and when you foresee them being created once your business has been set up.
You will be allowed to petition for employees who are also UK citizens to join your venture providing they meet the requirements of being essential to the venture and have special qualifications necessary to the start up.
You will need to demonstrate how you will impact the market within the US. Your plans will need to show the budget you have allocated to marketing as well as the personnel that will be required.
Should you have any US contacts or signed letters of intent, these will help to solidify your case. The more evidence you have of marketing activity, the stronger your application for an E2 visa will be. List any meetings you have lined up and give as much information as possible.
Your skills & experience
You will need to demonstrate that your professional experience or qualifications are connected to the business you intend to set up and will enable you to implement the business plan effectively and that you have the relevant skills to be capable of running a viable enterprise.
E2 visa interview
The purpose of the E2 visa interview is to determine that you are who you claim to be and that you hold all the relevant skills to make your venture a success.
You will be questioned on the information provided at your interview and may face challenges regarding the content of your business plan. The consular officer will want to ascertain to what degree your business will be of economic benefit to the US.
You will also need to bring two passport-style photographs of yourself. You will need your confirmation sheet of your completed DS-160 and a receipt for the fee. You should bring your I-797 approval notice and your appointment notification as well as any evidence to support your business plan such as bank statement, contracts, lease agreements etc.
You should also bring evidence that demonstrates your ties to your home country such as lease agreements, mortgage information etc that shows you are more likely to return home once your E2 visa business requirements have been fulfilled.
This list is by no means exhaustive, your legal advisor will be able to instruct you of any further supporting evidence you may need.
E2 visa interview questions
There are the basic standard questions such as:
- Have you ever been to the US before?
- Have you ever run a business in the US before?
- Do you own/run a business in your home country?
- Do you own your own home in your country?
- Do you have family in your home country?
- What do you intend to do once your E2 visa expires?
- What enterprise are you investing in?
The consular officer will be looking to see if you are going to be investing enough money to satisfy their definition of substantial. So you may be asked:
- How much have the upfront costs been?
- On what has the money been spent so far?
- Have you acquired essential items to set up operations?
- Are all necessary expenditures met?
- Do you have any money left to spend prior to starting your business?
- Have you spent enough to be ready to launch?
You will also be required to disclose the source of monies used to secure the business premises, make key purchases and have a US bank account with working capital. Questions you may be asked could include:
- What source did the E2 investment originate from?
- Is the source legitimate?
- Have you invested in a US bank account?
- Do you have a paper trail to show transfers?
You will also be asked about your role within the US enterprise. The Embassy will want to know that you are in the position to develop and direct operations. You will also need to demonstrate that you will be making strategic decisions. At this point your skills and experience will also be questioned with relation to the business.
The officer will require evidence that the business is viable and has a good chance of success. This is where your business plan will come under scrutiny. You may be asked:
- What makes you believe your business will be successful? You will need to explain what sets you apart from competitors and how your experience and background will instil confidence in your chosen market.
- Do you have the ability to hire US workers? Any signed letters of intent and contracts will be useful evidence?
- What plans do you have to develop the company?
The officer will ordinarily give you an immediate answer on your application. If approved, your passport will be taken and your visa added. You will receive notification once your passport is ready for collection.
If your application is refused, you may want to explore your options to appeal.
How long does an E2 visa take to process?
E2 visa processing can take anywhere between two weeks to four months. Processing times vary by Embassy/Consulate, depending on their capability in E2 processing and caseload.
There is a lot involved with the E2 visa application process. The criteria are not always straightforward and the evidentiary requirement is substantial.
NNU are specialist US immigration attorneys advising on all aspects of the E visa application process. For advice and support with your E2 visa application, please contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.