E2 Visa Supporting Documents
Starting up or investing in a business in the US can provide you and your family with the opportunity to start a new life. This means there is a lot at stake when making your E2 visa application and compiling the E2 supporting documents to avoid a visa refusal.
In this guide for E2 visa applicants, we look at the requirements for E2 visa supporting documents when applying for a visa to create a US start-up or to invest in an existing US enterprise.
What is the E2 visa?
The E2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that will allow a national of a treaty country to come to the United States when investing in and overseeing the running of a business, typically for as long as that business remains active and the investor is actively involved. Even though the E2 visa is issued on a temporary basis only, one of its main benefits is that it will allow for successful entrepreneurs to extend their stay in the United States an unlimited number of times.
To be eligible for an E2 visa, you must be a national of one of the countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or other qualifying international agreement. You must also be coming to the United States to solely develop and direct the operations of an existing or a brand new US enterprise in which you have invested, or are actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital using lawfully obtained funds.
There are no fixed capital thresholds for an E2 visa, although your investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation and development of the business, measured in a proportional sense. This means that when it comes to satisfying the ‘substantial capital’ requirement, much will depend on the type of enterprise that you are investing in and its overall cost. You must also be able to show at least 50% ownership or possession of operational control, for example, through a managerial position, and that the US enterprise has the capacity, either present or future, to be more than marginal.
How do you apply for an E2 visa?
When applying for an E2 visa as a prospective treaty investor, you must first register your business with the E-Visa Unit, using online Form DS-160 and paying the relevant fee. You will also need to submit a number of detailed documents in support that will satisfy the E-Visa Unit that you are able to meet all of the eligibility requirements for an E2 visa, for example, proof of business ownership, investment, marginality and the required nationality.
The review process can take up to 45 days, where additional documentation may be requested during this process. Once this review is complete, you will then be contacted to arrange an interview date, which you will be required to attend within 90 days. You must attend that interview with a number of additional documents, although for principal investors these will be mainly biographical, such as copies of current and expired passports, or for administrative purposes, such as your application confirmation sheet and a copy of the fee payment receipt.
What are the E2 visa supporting documents?
The documentation for an E2 visa can vary depending on when and how you are applying. For example, an application for a change of status from inside the US will require you to file Form I-129 with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), while filing from your home consulate or embassy abroad will require you to file Form DS-160 with the US Department of State. There are also certain documentary requirements specific to each embassy or consulate.
As a starting point, general guidance can be sought from the Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual which sets out the legal and documentary requirements for E2 visas (see 9 FAM 402.9). When applying from outside the US, you should also always visit the relevant embassy or consulate website for guidance on filing E2 visa supporting documents.
Most embassy or consulate websites will set out a list of the documentation needed to meet the specific requirements for an E2 Treaty Investor visa. However, in all cases, you will need to provide a detailed cover letter, describing both yourself, as the beneficiary, and the US enterprise. This letter should address all of the requirements for E2 visa eligibility, supported by a number of documents in relation to each requirement, including:
- Your nationality: E2 visas are reserved for nationals of countries with which the US maintains a treaty or international agreement, where relevant documents to show that you have the required nationality include passports and birth certificates.
- The original source of funds: you must be able to show that the money used to invest in a US business came from a lawful source. This could be evidenced through tax returns, property sale records, bank statements showing the deposit and accumulation of funds over time, as well as any statements showing the transfer of funds to invest in the US.
- The business is real and your funds are at risk: the business must be active and your investment must be committed to this. For a US start-up, this can be evidenced by formation documents, such as corporate registration documentation. For an existing business, you could produce a purchase agreement. You should also produce any operating agreement, lease agreement, licences, invoices, utility bills, bank statements and marketing materials.
- Your business is not marginal: a marginal business is one that is solely for earning a living, where you will need documents to show that your enterprise will provide support for people other than yourself and your family. This should include a business plan with personnel projections for the next 5 years and, for any business with existing employees, you should present W-2s, 1099s and payroll statements. The business plan, along with the cover letter, will tie everything together to help demonstrate that E2 status is appropriate.
- You are in a position to develop and direct the business: E2 status is for those coming to oversees the running of a US business, although you must show that you are capable of this, for example, producing a resume or curriculum vitae, and setting out a detailed summary of your professional experience and accomplishments via the business plan.
- You intend to return to your home country: you must intend to depart the US after expiration of your temporary E2 status, where you will need to clearly set this out in writing. Any signed statement of nonimmigrant intent should also be supplemented, where possible, with bank statements or property records in your country of residence.
This list is not exhaustive and, before applying for a visa, expert advice from an immigration specialist should always be sought on the correct E2 visa supporting documents required.
What E2 visa supporting documents are needed for employees?
E2 visas can also be granted to employees of treaty investors, provided they hold the same nationality and they are destined to work in either an executive or supervisory role in the US enterprise, or possess skills that are considered essential to the operations in the US.
To be granted an E2 visa as a senior or essentially skilled employee, the treaty investor business for which you will be working must be successfully registered with the E-Visa Unit. You must also submit Forms DS-160 and DS-156E to the Department of State. If you are currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, your prospective employer may file Form I-129 with USCIS to request a change of status to E2 classification on your behalf.
You must then attend an interview with a number of E2 visa supporting documents, including:
- a print out of the confirmation page for Form DS-160
- a printed appointment confirmation page
- a completed Form DS-156E
- a valid passport or other travel document
- a recent 5 x 5cm colour photograph
- evidence of residence or immigration status in your country of residence
- evidence of any previously issued US visas
- a detailed job description letter for the treaty investor business
- an organisational chart reflecting your role within that business
- a current resume or curriculum vitae
- a copy of educational certificates, diplomas and professional qualifications
- a copy of the approval letter for the registered treaty investor business
- a signed statement of intent to depart the US upon expiry of your E2 status
- an ACRO certificate if you have ever been convicted, cautioned or even arrested
- a letter from your doctor detailing your existing state of health if you suffer from a medical condition that could have some bearing on your eligibility for a visa
- any documents relating to being denied entry into or deported from the US.
The letter and organisational chart explaining your role within the treaty investor business must describe an executive, supervisory or essential role, together with your qualifications and experience for that role, where detail is key here. For example, as a senior employee, the documentation should show the degree to which you will have control and responsibility for overall operations, while as an essentially skilled employee the documents should show the specialised nature of your knowledge and the importance of this proven expertise.
What E2 visa supporting documents are needed for renewals?
The E2 Treaty Investor visa, and the E2 employee visa, will usually be granted for an initial period of 2-3 years. However, the E2 visa can be renewed any number of times, in increments of 2 years each, provided you continue to meet all of the relevant requirements and maintain an intention to leave the US when your E2 nonimmigrant status expires.
To apply for a visa renewal, you will again need to submit an online application using Form DS-160 if applying from outside the United States, or Form I-129 to apply for an in-country extension of E2 status. You will also be required to submit a number of E2 visa supporting documents, including a cover letter setting out the ongoing eligibility requirements, together with detailed documentation to show that you meet all of the necessary requirements.
At the time you file for your E2 visa renewal, the focus will shift away from any initial financial investment and move more towards the performance of the business. This is because the treaty investor business is likely to have been operational for at least 2 years. This means that you must be able to show that the business remains an active for-profit business which is more the marginal, based on its actual performance rather than any future projections.
By providing evidence of both revenue and job creation, this will provide the best possible chance of being granted a renewal or extension to stay in the US. However, to further aid your application, any additional capital investment, with an updated business plan to show that this investment will be used productively, can significantly improve your chances.
Do I need help with my E2 visa supporting documents?
Applying for an E2 visa can be a legal and evidential minefield, with various pitfalls that commonly catch out applicants, especially when it comes to preparing the various and very detailed E2 visa supporting documents. An application for an E2 visa also carries with it significant financial risk for E2 treaty investors. This is because if you create or buy a stake in a US business, this does not guarantee the grant of a visa to oversee its running.
By securing expert advice before applying for an E2 visa, you can be confident that your application and supporting documentation is correct and complete. Your advisor can also help you to explore any other available visa options based on your unique set of circumstances.
Importantly, as a nonimmigrant visa, the E2 visa does not provide a path to permanent residency in the United States. The ongoing validity of E2 status is also tied to the success of the US enterprise. This means that if your start-up fails or any established business goes bust, or you simply decide that you no longer want to run or work for that business, you will usually be required to leave the US, unless you are eligible to switch to another immigration route.
By exploring alternative visa options, either from the outset or once you are already in the US, there may be other more suitable alternatives available to you. The E2 visa comes with amazing benefits, including unlimited renewals and the ability to bring dependants with you, but the E2 visa supporting documents can make this a highly complex process to navigate.
NNU Immigration are dedicated US immigration attorneys based in London. We provide specialist advice and guidance on E2 visa applications, including the E2 supporting documents you should compile and include include in your submission. For advice and support with your application, contact us.
E2 visa supporting documents FAQs
What documents you need for E2 visa?
Various detailed documents are needed for E2 visas, including proof that the US enterprise is a real and active commercial undertaking, and one in which you have invested, or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.
How much do you need to invest in an E2 visa?
There are no fixed capital thresholds for E2 visas, although any investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation and development of the US enterprise, measured proportionally, depending on the type of business and its overall cost.
Is it hard to get E2 visa?
It can be hard to obtain an E2 visa, especially because you will first be required to invest, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital, as well as providing detailed documentary proof of your investment.
How do I sponsor an E2 visa?
As a treaty investor, you can sponsor an employee of the same nationality for either an executive or supervisory role, or as an essentially skilled employee with specialised knowledge, to work for your E2 treaty investor business in the US.
This post does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.