E2 Visa Cover Letter – What to Include?

Applying for the US E-2 visa requires extensive documentation to be compiled and submitted to evidence your eligibility. This includes an E2 visa cover letter and business plan.

Given the requirement for substantial upfront investment with no guarantee of being granted permission to operate in the United States, E2 visa applications carry significant risk for treaty investors.

With US visa applications facing increasing consular scrutiny, it is more crucial than ever to ensure each element of your application is comprehensive and supports your case. What does this mean for the E2 visa cover letter?

Do you have a question about an E-2 Visa Cover Letter?>

Evidencing E-2 visa eligibility

The E-2 visa enables non-U.S. nationals to develop and direct the operations of a legitimate enterprise in the United States in which they have invested, or are in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.

This could be either the purchase of a pre-existing business or an entirely new start-up business. Employees of the principal investor may also qualify for this category of visa.

There are a number of criteria you must satisfy to be eligible for an E-2 visa. You must for example be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

Further, your investment must be more than a marginal enterprise in a bona fide U.S. business. There is no official minimum investment threshold, although this must be “substantial” relative to the business you are investing in.

If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered a senior or essentially skilled employee, and destined to a similar role in the United States.

To apply for an E2 visa you must complete Form DS-160 and submit this electronically, together with a cover letter and supporting documentation. The documentation will need to contain detailed business and financial information directly relevant to your application.

E2 visa cover letter contents 

The E2 visa cover letter will need to refer both to the enterprise that is basis of the petition and you as the visa applicant, by addressing all the requirements for E-2 visa eligibility:

  • The requisite treaty between the U.S. and your country exists.
  • You or your business possess the nationality of the treaty country.
  • You have invested or are in the process of investing.
  • The enterprise is a real and operating commercial entity.
  • Your investment is substantial.
  • Your investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living.
  • You are in a position to develop and direct the enterprise.
  • If you are an employee, you are destined to an executive or supervisory role, or possess skills essential to the firm’s operations in the U.S.
  • You intend to depart the United States when your E2 status terminates.

What additional documentation is required?

In addition to the E2 visa cover letter, you will also be required to provide extensive and detailed documentary evidence. This can be broken down into various categories, from application forms to evidence of your investment.

The different categories are dealt with in turn below, although please note that this list is not exhaustive and expert advice should always be sought based on the individual circumstances of your application.

Application forms

You will need to provide the following:

  • The DS-160 confirmation page and, if applicable, Form DS-156E.
  • The payment form of proof of payment of the application fee.
  • As an employee applicant, you will also need to include a job letter from your employer describing the business, the job you will be doing and your qualifications for that job.
  • If applicable, a letter of agreement between the treaty trader and their legal representative, signed by both parties.

Applicant information

You will need to provide the following:

  • A colour scan of the bio data page of your passport.
  • A copy of any changes or extensions of status granted by USCIS (Form I-797).
  • Evidence of ongoing residency in your country including, as appropriate, a copy of the current lease or mortgage for your primary residence in that country and your most recent payslip.
  • Your resume or curriculum vitae, with copies of educational certificates or diplomas.
  • A signed statement of intent to depart the U.S. upon termination of status.

Ownership

You will need to provide the following:

  • Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization or other similar documents, as applicable, for the U.S. business.
  • Share certificates, Operating Agreement, Share Ledgers or other applications documents, as applicable, to confirm ownership.
  • Color photocopies of the bio data pages of the passports of the owners of the ultimate parent company.
  • If the U.S. based business is a subsidiary or affiliate of a foreign corporation, provide their relevant incorporation and ownership documents for the business.
  • If you have a large company with several owners or subsidiaries, or if the chain of ownership includes intermediary entities, please also submit an organisational chart of the full ownership structure, as well as legal evidence of instances of ownership within that chain.

Investment

You will need to provide a complete money trail of the funds invested into the U.S. venture, including:

  • Evidence of the original source of the funds, for example, sale of property, inheritance, loans, earnings, sale of business etc.
  • Evidence that the funds have been moved to a U.S. bank account.
  • Evidence of all funds invested investment by way of a detailed breakdown of spending, including a signed and dated purchase or lease agreement, evidence of any inventory purchases or business expenses, or any other funds spent to acquire and set up the business.

Real and Operating

You will need to provide evidence that the business is real and active, including:

  • any local, state or federal licenses.
  • any agreements, contacts or customer lists.
  • evidence confirming any ongoing and future work.
  • any marketing and promotional materials.
  • monthly bank statements for the current calendar year.

Marginality

You will need to provide evidence that the business is more than a marginal enterprise. The documentation here may vary depending on whether the business is already established or a new start-up.

If established, you will need to provide the following:

  • Copies of the U.S. federal tax returns for the business submitted to the IRS for the last three years, including all statements and schedules.
  • Detailed profit and loss statements for the current and previous calendar years.
  • All W-2, 1099s and/or payroll invoices for the last two tax years.

If the business is a new start-up, you will need to provide:

  • A comprehensive business plan that analyses the local market and competition.
  • A detailed five-year profit and loss forecast for the business, backed up by external sources.
  • A breakdown of start-up costs necessary for the business to become operational.

Following review of your documentation, and subject to any request for additional documentation, you will be required to attend an interview with a consular officer during which time you will answer various questions based on the information provided.

Do you have a question about E2 Visa Cover Letter?

To optimize your prospects of making a successful E2 visa application, expert guidance should be sought to ensure the petition, documentation, business plan and E2 cover letter are comprehensive and effective in aligning to the requirements of the visa category.

As specialist US immigration attorneys, we can guide you through the complexities of the E2 visa application process. For advice on your E2 visa application, contact us.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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