E2 Visa: How Much to Invest?
Among the requirements of the US E2 visa, the E2 company must have invested a substantial amount of money in a new or existing US business.
But what qualifies as ‘substantial’ investment? If you are seeking to apply for the E2 visa, how much will you need to invest?
How much do you need to invest for the 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 level 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.
While this approach can make the E2 process less straightforward for applicants, it can allow for the visa to be secured with significantly less investment than say the EB-5 program.
A substantial investment is one that is sufficient to ensure the investor’s commitment to the successful operation and development of the enterprise by its proportion to the total cost of the business. The investment cannot be marginal, and must have the capacity to generate more than a minimal income.
There is no defined threshold or bright line test as to what meets the substantial investment requirement.
The amount will be considered in the context of the business being invested in and what is necessary for that business as either a purchase, to establish and operate.
It is a wholly subjective and relative assessment of what is deemed an appropriate amount to enable the successful operation of the enterprise.
As a consequence, some businesses will require more than others. The US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual uses the example of a car manufacturer requiring significantly more investment than a consulting firm, when taking into consideration
A further consideration is that the investment amount must demonstrate an at-risk financial commitment on the part of the investor, so shoestring enterprises are unlikely to satisfy the personal risk requirement.
What can you include as part of your E2 investment?
Even the smallest of businesses incur costs in relation to the purchase or set up and the operation of the enterprise. You will need to undertake an exercise to identify and itemize all expenditure and outlays, in addition to the purchase price. For example:
- Leasing premises
- Equipment purchase or hire
- Professional adviser fees
- IP related costs
- Admin costs such as incorporation
- Marketing and promotional materials and activities
Where the E2 investor is one of multiple investors in the business, the percentage of investment being made by the E2 applicant must also be deemed sufficient.
Further requirements of the E2 investment
In addition to being substantial, the investment must also fulfil the following:
- The foreign company must be investing in a new or existing enterprise.
USCIS defines an E-2 investment as the company’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The company’s investment may be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture, or purchasing a pre-existing business. In either scenario, you must demonstrate that the capital the foreign company is investing is substantial. If the company is on ongoing concern in the United States then the focus will be the actual revenues that the business has achieved, and the number of jobs created in the United States.
- The investment must be in a bona fide enterprise.
A bona fide enterprise is one that is a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit. The enterprise cannot be an idle investment held for potential appreciation in value, such as undeveloped land or stocks held by an investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise.
- The foreign company must be in possession of the funds it will invest and funds must be fully committed to the business.
The foreign company must demonstrate that the capital invested is irrevocably committed to the enterprise and subject to partial or total loss in the event that the entity fails. The funds invested must primarily derive from corporate earnings. Additionally, the invested funds must be substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of enterprise.
- The foreign company must be able to provide the source of funding.
The foreign company must show a clear and legitimate path regarding the source of capital it will be investing.
Required Information and Documentation
In order to for a foreign company to be granted E-2 registration as a treaty investor, it will necessary to gather documentation evidencing that each requirement has been met.
Such documentation includes the following:
- Evidence of the trail of investment from the foreign company to the US company, and usage of such funds to develop the enterprise;
- Evidence that the US company is, or soon will be, a real and operating enterprise;
- If the foreign company is investing in an operating business, evidence that the business is more than marginal; and
- If the foreign company is investing in a start-up, evidence that the business will be more than marginal.
E-2 Application and Processing
In order to obtain an E-2 company registration, an application evidencing the foreign company’s eligibility must be filed at a US consular post abroad along with an initial E-2 employee visa application. Filing requirements vary from post to post, and processing times can fluctuate based on consular workload. It is best to confirm estimated processing times at the appropriate consular post at the time the E-2 company registration and visa applications are filed.
Following company approval, individuals whom you wish to employ at your company in the U.S. may apply for E-2 status at the U.S. consular post.
Do you have a question about the E-2 Investor visa?
NNU Immigration specialize in the US E2 visa. 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.