What is the US E2 Visa Success Rate?
The E-2 visa classification remains a popular route into US business for foreign nationals. Applying for the E2 visa carries significant up-front financial risk for applicants. To be eligible, you must have made an investment, with no guarantee that this will result in your visa being granted. Given the potential for financial loss resulting from a failed application, it’s helpful to understand the E2 visa success rate and what this means for your prospects of making a successful application.
What is the E2 visa success rate?
In 2019, the E2 visa success rate was 89%. According to Department of State figures, the average approval rate over the past five years is approximately 80%, with the majority of applications made by citizens of Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Great Britain.
While the majority of applications are approved, the 20% refusal rate in recent years remains sizable, showing a notable proportion of applications fail to make the cut.
From our own extensive experience of E2 visas, those that are refused tend to have been compiled without professional advice, and as such are more susceptible to falling foul of the E-2 eligibility and/or evidentiary requirements.
Why E2 visa applications are refused
Each application, including the business plan and supporting documents, will be assessed against the eligibility criteria. But there remains a number of pitfalls and common adjudication objections which applicants should look to address to avoid a refusal:
Is your investment ‘substantial’?
The level of investment must be considered ‘substantial’. What constitutes substantial is subjective relative to the enterprise in question. What level of investment is needed to make the business operational, looking at costs such as real estate leases, capital outlays for equipment and machinery, and others relevant to your type of business.
Are your funds ‘legitimate’?
You will have to provide sufficient evidence in the required format to prove that the funds or assets used to make the E-2 investment are from a legitimate source.
Is the enterprise too ‘marginal’?
You have to show that your venture will generate more than just enough income to support you and your family – you have to project and demonstrate there will be adequate profit growth that will result in wider economic benefit beyond your family unit, such as providing jobs for US resident workers.
Is the investment too ‘easily retrievable’?
Your evidence should show that you are fully invested in the venture and not likely to use the system to make money and withdraw it. Provide evidence of your investments and financial commitment in the enterprise to date, such as leases and assets already purchased.
Have you demonstrated sufficient personal financial risk?
You need to be able to show that your business is operating on a legitimate basis with approved funding. The E2 visa won’t be granted unless you have already invested in the business and it is either ready to operate or already operational, e.g. premises are leased, equipment installed and you are ready to move as soon as you are approved. While it can be permissible to source funds from a legitimate third party, your investment must demonstrate sufficient financial risk to you personally. To meet this requirement, we generally recommend at least 75% of the investment should include your personal assets.
Are you ‘capable’ of directing the enterprise?
The E-2 visa requirements on investors are more than just attaining ownership of the enterprise. E2 investors are expected to show they will be actively involved in developing and directing the business. An applicant’s ability to take this role on will be assessed by looking at investors’ academic and professional background to determine whether the applicant has the requisite skills and experience needed to successfully run the enterprise.
Do you have ‘sufficient ties’ to your home country?
The E2 visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa and cannot be used as a stepping-stone to gaining US permanent residency. You must be able to show you have commitments and interests in your own country that prove you will leave the US on visa expiry, for example, mortgage statements.
E2 visa application refused?
If your E2 visa application is refused, take advice on your options, which could include whether to appeal, reapply for the E2 or apply for another visa category.
If you make a new application, ensure to directly address the grounds for refusal. Provide supporting documents for your visa application that correlate specifically to the visa criteria. For example, proof of the E-2 investment in the form of source of funds and proof of investment payments.
Prepare for your interview. Review the forms and supporting documentation especially your business plan. Providing inconsistent or misleading information are red flags and may be cause for a visa denial. It is also important to review the visa requirements and note down why you qualify for the visa. Prepare a brief explanation about the previous denial and state how you’ve addressed the issues in the new application.
Alternative visa options
The E-2 visa is not necessarily suitable for all applicants and all circumstances. Following an E2 visa refusal, you may look at alternative immigration options. For example, the EB5 visa, which is an immigrant investment visa, or the H visa classifications. Should you wish to take up permanent residence in the US, then these visa classes put you on the pathway to obtaining a Green Card (permanent residency status), once the requirements have been fulfilled.
The E-2 application demands considerable planning and effort. With so much at stake when applying for your E-2 visa, it is critical to ensure your application is built to evidence your eligibility under the E category.
As US immigration specialists, NNU can guide through the E-2 visa application process, advising on collating relevant documentation, writing the business plan and preparing for your visa interview. We can also help if you have experienced a refused E2 visa application.
For advice about your E2 visa application, contact us.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.