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E2 Visa: An Ultimate Guide

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

The E2 visa is the primary US immigration route for investors, entrepreneurs, and business owners making a substantial investment in a new or existing enterprise in the United States.

The E2 visa offers holders considerable flexibility to develop and direct their US-based enterprise. However, the E2 visa eligibility and procedural requirements are strict and complex.

Eligibility rests on factors such as the applicant’s nationality and investment, and, crucially, the applicant must have already made an at-risk investment in the enterprise before they can apply for their visa, with no guarantees of success.

The information and documentation required for your application will also be substantial. Incorrect or inaccurate information may lead to your visa application being delayed or refused, potentially resulting in loss of investments and business opportunities and other related financial implications.

It is not just a matter of presenting the facts. You will also need to provide and present sufficient context and detail relating to your business, its operations, costs, market place and projections in order for the adjudicator to make a full and informed assessment of your eligibility and the viability of your business to go on and fulfil the E2 requirements.

As specialist US immigration attorneys, NNU Immigration is on hand to advise and guide you through the E2 visa process, from assessing eligibility to determining an appropriate investment amount, building a robust application to best represent you and your investment opportunity, and supporting you with the interview stage.

Whether you’re aiming to start a new venture or invest in an existing enterprise, the process of applying for an E2 visa is demanding on applicants. In this guide, we provide detailed and comprehensive insights into the eligibility and procedural requirements you will need to meet to secure an E2 visa and continue your entrepreneurial journey Stateside.


Section A: Overview of the E2 Visa





1. What is an E2 Visa?


The E2 Visa, often referred to as the Treaty Investor Visa, is a nonimmigrant visa for nationals of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation.

This visa category is designed for those who invest a substantial amount of capital in a US business, with the investor needing to play an active role in the management and development of the business. It allows investors, entrepreneurs, and certain employees of qualifying businesses to live and work in the United States to manage and direct the operations of the business in which they have invested or are employed.

During this time, E2 visa holders have permission to travel in and out of the US without restriction.

E2 visa holders can also be accompanied to the US by their spouse and dependent children under the E2 derivative category. With E2 dependent status, E2 spouses can work without restriction in the US. They do not have to be employed by the E2 business.







2. E2 Visa Validity Period


Your status – not your visa length – determines how long you can stay in the US at any one time under the E2 visa.

This is because the validity period of your E2 visa is different to the period of stay. The validity period is the timeframe over which an E2 visa is issued, providing an expiration date up until which point you will be permitted to enter, leave and re-enter the US. In contrast, the period of stay refers to the length of time that you will be allowed to stay in the US on each occasion.

The length of time your E2 visa is valid depends on your nationality. The E2 period of visa validity generally ranges from 1 year to 5 years. So, depending on your nationality, your E2 treaty investor visa may be valid for only 3 months on a single-entry basis. In other cases, as a UK national, for example, you may benefit from an E2 visa validity period of up to 60 months on a multiple-entry basis.

For example, if your E2 visa is valid for 5 years, this does not mean that you can stay in the US for 5 years continuously. With an E2 visa, you are typically granted a 2-year admission period by US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) each time you enter the US. If you depart the US and return within the duration of your visa, you would generally be granted a two-year readmission period upon your return.

The final decision will be determined by your nationality and the discretion of the consulate approving your application.


3. Types of Businesses that Qualify


Before you can apply for an E2 visa, either as an investor or an E2 employee, the company must first be formally set up in the US and then registered as an E2 treaty investor business at a US Embassy or Consulate E Visa Unit.

A wide variety of businesses can qualify for an E2 visa, from consultancy practices to large-scale manufacturers across all sectors of the economy, provided the E2 criteria are met.

The business must be a bona fide enterprise that is active, for-profit, and capable of generating more income than just providing a living for the investor and their family. This encompasses businesses that sell products or services for profit.

Importantly, the investment must not be in a marginal enterprise, defined as a business that does not have the capacity to generate a significant economic contribution. Examples include companies in the service industry, manufacturing, technology, and many others, as long as they meet the visa’s requirements regarding investment size, business viability, and the investor’s role in the business.


4. E1 v E2 Visa


E-1 visas are nonimmigrant trader visas allowing individuals to conduct substantial trade in the US, while the E2 visa is designed for individuals to invest substantial amounts in the US.

As such, the difference is in the nature of the business activity permitted; while the E1 is for those engaged in trade with the US, the E2 visa is for those investing in US-based enterprises.

Both E visas are available to nationals of Treaty countries to either trade (E1 visa) with or invest (E2 visa) substantially in US businesses. They offer flexible routes for international entrepreneurs, investors and traders to pursue business opportunities in the US. They are also arguably some of the more attractive US visa classifications, offering holders the potential to renew their status indefinitely and the opportunity for dependants to join them in the United States.


Section B: E2 Visa Eligibility Requirements







The E2 Treaty Investor visa allows individuals from Treaty countries to invest in a US business, either by setting up a new enterprise or investing in an existing one.

As specified in the US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual (9 FAM 402.9), eligibility for an E2 Treaty Investor visa rests on the following conditions:


a. You are a national of a country the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

b. You have made, or are in the process of making, a substantial investment in a US business.

c. The business that you have invested in is bona fide and viable

d. You have control over the funds invested and are placing them at risk by investing in this enterprise.

e. Your investment will have a positive effect on the US economy.

f. You want to enter the US only to develop and direct the E2 enterprise.


1. Treaty National Requirement


One of the first requirements when assessing eligibility for the E2 Treaty Trader visa is that the visa applicant must be a national of a country designated by US Congress as eligible for participation in the relevant nonimmigrant visa program. This means being on the list of E Visa Treaty countries.


a. Treaty Countries 

E Visa Treaty countries have a treaty of commerce in place with the United States which, among other benefits, allows reciprocal nonimmigrant status for citizens.

You must check whether your country of nationality has the required treaty in place before making an E visa application. The full and current list can be found on the Department of State website.

There are three E visa treaty country lists: one for E2 countries which have only an E2 investor treaty with the US, one for countries with only an E-1 trader treaty in place, and one for countries with both E1 trader and E2 investor treaties.

The UK has both E1 and E2 treaty status, but these only apply to British territory in Europe, the British Isles, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar and to their nationals. The British Isles excludes the Republic of Ireland. The UK Convention does not include nationals of countries that are members of the Commonwealth other than those of the UK.

Following a change in the requirements in December 2022, applicants who have obtained citizenship with a Treaty country through an investment route must show that they have been domiciled in that country for at least three continuous years prior to applying for a US E visa.

To verify eligibility, USCIS has the power to request additional information from E2 applicants as to how their Treaty country citizenship was attained and, where applicable, to confirm the three-year residency. This new requirement does not apply to either current or former E visa holders or to dual nationals who hold the nationality of a treaty country through other means, such as descent.

If you are not a national of a treaty country, you may wish to explore alternative entry options, depending on the nature and required duration of stay, as well as the prevailing US immigration rules at the time of your application. Take advice on your particular circumstances.


b. Applicant Nationality 

The Treaty national applicant must own and control at least 50% of the company.

Any employees of the business looking to apply under the E2 visa must be of the same nationality as their primary employer, i.e., from an E2 visa country.

Where there is a 50/50 split of ownership among two investors, and the two individuals hold different nationalities, they can opt to apply under either one of the E2 countries. E2 applicant employees can hold the same nationality in either of the two countries.


2. E2 Investment Requirement







Among the criteria for the US E2 visa, the investor is required to have made, or be in the process of making, a substantial investment in a new or existing US business.

This is a complex aspect of the E2 application, with various factors that will be assessed for eligibility.


a. The investment amount must be considered ‘substantial’ 

The investment amount must be considered ‘substantial’ to be eligible for the E2 route.

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.

‘Substantial’ is assessed in a proportional sense. It is a subjective standard with no bright-line test or fixed threshold. 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.

The proportionality test is used to decide whether an investment is substantial or not. It compares two figures: the investment amount and the cost of purchasing an existing business or the costs of setting up a new business.

Using these two figures, the proportionality test calculates a percentage of investment in comparison to the cost of the business (whether new or existing).

For instance, where the business purchase price is $100,000, and the investment amount is $90,000, the percentage is 90%. By comparison, where the cost to set up a business is $500,000 and $250,000 has been invested, the percentage is 50%. Where a business with a market value of $3 million receives an investment of $900,000, the percentage is 30%.

Generally, the lower the cost of purchasing or setting up a business, the higher the percentage must be to be seen as ‘substantial’. Therefore, the higher the cost of the business, the lower the percentage needs to be.
So, any of the above investments may be acceptable for an E2 Treaty Investor visa as long as all other eligibility conditions are met, regardless of the level of start-up costs, whether high, for instance, in the case of a factory, or low, as in when starting a consultancy business.

For example, if you are investing in an existing US business, the value of the business will be taken into consideration, whether you are purchasing the business in its entirety, purchasing part of the business along with other investors, or otherwise making an investment in the business.
The value of the business is therefore taken as how much it was purchased for or a value that is deemed to be a fair market value.

Where your investment is being used to set up a new business, the figure of interest to USCIS will be the complete costs of setting up your new business, from the initial start-up costs to the funds needed to make that business operational.

The investment level must 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.


b. The foreign company must be investing in a new or existing enterprise

USCIS defines an E2 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 an 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.


c. Qualifying investments 

Even the smallest businesses incur costs related to the purchase or set-up and operation of the enterprise. You will need to identify and itemize all expenditures and outlays, in addition to the purchase price, such as leasing premises, equipment purchase or hire, professional adviser fees, IP-related costs, admin costs such as incorporation, and marketing and promotional materials and activities.


d. 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.


e. The foreign company must be in possession of the funds it will invest, and funds must be fully committed to the business

The E2 investor must have control of the investment funds.

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.


f. The foreign company must be able to provide the source of funding

You will need to show a clear and legitimate path regarding the source of capital it will be investing. Acceptable sources include inheritance, personal savings, earnings from investments and monetary gifts.

Loans that are secured against the investor’s personal assets, for instance, a second mortgage on the investor’s home, are generally acceptable, as are certain unsecured loans.

Loans secured on the business that is being invested in for the purpose of the E2 visa, however, are not an acceptable source of funds for an E2 investment.

The amount of financing through loans that is allowed as part of your investment is down to the discretion of the embassy or consulate officials.

Where the E2 investor purchases a business, the percentage of secured financing allowed rises with the price of the business. For instance, a business purchased for $100,000 would be allowed a lower percentage of secured financing than a business purchased for $300,000.


g. Investment constitutes a risk for the applicant

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.


h. Investment cannot be ‘passive’ 

The E2 investment must be in an active opportunity; passive investments, like stocks and bonds, do not qualify under the E2.


3. Intent to depart the US


During the application process, you will be asked to provide evidence of your intention to leave the US on completion of your E2 business activity or by the end of your visa duration, for example, by proving valid and lawful foreign residence.

Any indication at the petitioning stage of an intention to remain in the US under a nonimmigrant visitor visa is likely to result in a refused application. The default position for petitioners should be to assume the adjudicating officer considers you do intend to remain in the US, and you need to convince the official to the contrary through evidence.

Further, attempting to change your status from a nonimmigrant visa to an immigrant visa while in the US is likely to cause issues, and you will need to provide compelling evidence as to why your intention to remain has changed or was not declared at the time of your initial visitor visa application.

Issues with dishonesty or deliberate misrepresentation during the visa application process may be deemed visa fraud and can result in issues with future US visa applications and you potentially being barred from entering the US.


4. E2 Employee Eligibility


Following successful completion of the E2 company registration process, you will be required to seek visas for ‘sponsored employees’ – individuals you wish to employ at your US company.

To be eligible, sponsored employee applicants must:


a. have the same nationality as the owners of the foreign company;

b. be filling an ‘executive, managerial or essential role’ at the US company – as detailed in the E2 company supporting documentation; and

c. intend to return to their residence abroad following completion of their work in the US.

The employees must apply for E2 status at the consular post where their E2 registration application was filed, and they should expect to be invited to interview to discuss their application and specifically demonstrate requisite managerial level experience or essential skills.


Section C: E2 Visa Application Process







Applying for an E2 visa involves a precise process requiring careful planning and close management at each stage:


1. Step-by-step guide to applying for an E2 Visa


Step 1: Initial Consultation

It’s recommended to start by consulting with an immigration lawyer to assess your situation and explore the best options for obtaining the desired immigration benefits.


Step 2: Setting Up Your E2 Company

If an E2 visa is deemed suitable, the next step involves setting up your company in the US. This includes forming the company (with at least 50% ownership to satisfy the control and development requirement of the E2 visa) and opening a business bank account.


Step 3: Transferring Investment Funds

After establishing the company, transfer your investment funds into the business’s bank account.


Step 4: Spend the Investment Funds

Begin to spend the funds on business-related expenses to demonstrate that your investment is at risk and irrevocably committed to the business. This step is crucial as mere intent to invest or uncommitted funds in a bank account does not satisfy the visa requirements.


Step 5: Register the E2 company 

Before you can apply for an E2 visa as an individual applicant, your company (non-US) must first be registered as an E2 Treaty Investor Business with an E-visa unit at a US Embassy or Consulate.

Read our full guide to E2 company registration here.


Step 6: Prepare Your E2 Visa Application

Collect necessary documents, including proof of investment, business plans, and evidence of business formation.


Step 7: File Your E2 Visa Application

If you’re in the US, file a change of status through USCIS with Form I-129.

If you’re outside the US, apply at a US Embassy or Consulate in your home country via the visa application process, including submitting forms DS-160 and DS-156E.


Step 8: E2 Visa Interview 

Once your case has been reviewed, you will receive formal notification from the adjudicator. You then have 90 days to attend a visa interview.

During the interview, you will be questioned on the information you have provided about yourself and the business in your application and business plan.

Prepare well for the interview, be familiar with the details of your submissions and be able to answer any general questions, for example, about your immigration history, education and work background.

The business plan will also be scrutinized to ascertain the degree of economic benefit your business would bring to the US market.

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.

Read our detailed guide on how to prepare for the E2 visa interview here.


 Step 9: Requests for Evidence (RFE) 

Should your E2 visa be taken through administrative processing, more information will be required. A refusal under section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act simply means that your application may be refused completely if you cannot provide the evidence that has been requested.

You will be given a list of documents and information that are required in order to avoid a refusal.

You should aim to provide the documents to the consulate as soon as possible, providing that this time does not exceed 120 days.


3. Timeline and processing times


Visa processing times will be a key consideration when filing an E2 petition, particularly given the planning required to pursue your business activity and if your family will also be applying to join you as E2 dependents.

However, processing times can vary, so it is essential to check current timelines and be prepared to provide additional information if requested.

Typically, E2 visa processing can take anywhere from two weeks to up to 5 months.

The duration of processing is influenced by several factors, some within the applicant’s control and others not.

E2 visa processing times are determined largely by the US Consular post where you filed your petition (usually in your country of residence), but processing can take longer if there are issues with your application, for example, when you have received a request for further information. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring your application is full and complete when filed.

Premium processing is not available for out-of-country E2 visa applications since such applications are initially processed at an overseas Embassy or Consulate and not USCIS.

However, when applying from the US, you can choose premium processing for your application. With this option, you will have your application assessed within 15 calendar days. The fee for the premium service is $2,805.

See our full guide to E2 visa processing times here.


4. E-2 Visa Costs


Applying for an E2 visa involves several costs that can vary based on the specific circumstances of your application.


a. Application Fees

Consular filing fees can vary depending on the specific consulate you apply through. Some consulates may have additional fees, so it’s important to check with the consulate where you will be applying.

There are two main E2 visa application fees, depending on where you apply from:


1. DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application: This fee is mandatory if you are applying from outside the United States at a US consulate. The current cost for this form is $315.


2. Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker: This form is required if you are already in the United States and wish to change to E-2 status or extend your E-2 status. The current filing fee for Form I-129 is $460.


3. Visa Issuance Fee: Depending on the reciprocity agreement between the US and the treaty country, there may be a visa issuance fee which varies by nationality.


4. DS-156E Fee: For E2 employees who need to submit a DS-156E form, additional fees may apply.


5. Optional Premium Processing Fee: $2805 to file orm I-907 for fast-tracked processing within 15 business days.


b. Legal Fees

Hiring an immigration attorney to assist with the E2 visa process is highly recommended due to the complex nature of the application. Legal fees can range significantly based on the attorney’s experience and the complexity of your case.


c. Business Registration and Set-up Costs

These costs include state registration fees, which vary by state and the type of business entity. Additionally, you might incur costs for setting up your business operations, such as leasing office space, purchasing equipment, and other initial set-up expenses.


d. Investment Costs

The substantial capital investment required to qualify for an E2 visa does not have a minimum threshold but must be significant enough to ensure the successful operation of the business. This amount will depend heavily on the nature of the business and could range from tens of thousands to several million dollars.


e. Miscellaneous Expenses

These can include costs for obtaining necessary business licenses and permits, costs for business planning and market analysis, and expenses related to the transfer of funds internationally.


f. Travel and Accommodation Costs

If you need to travel to a US consulate or embassy for your visa interview, you may also need to budget for travel and accommodation expenses.


Section D: E2 Visa Forms and Supporting Documents


The E2 documentation and evidentiary requirements are extensive and will be determined by the nature of your enterprise and your personal and financial circumstances.

The quality of your supporting documentation will be a critical factor in securing an E2 visa. Your submission should be comprehensive, factually correct, compliant with the relevant requirements and well-presented.

Issues with your application form and documentation are likely to result in delays or even refusal of your visa and potentially loss of fee.

Since you are required to have already made the investment prior to the application, it will be important to avoid any potential for financial loss resulting from a failed application.


1. E2 Application Contents


Section A: Table of Contents and Cover Letter

A cover letter is required, describing the enterprise and with information about you to address all the requirements for E-2 visa eligibility, including:


a. The requisite treaty between the US and your country exists.

b. You or your business possess the nationality of the treaty country.

c. You have invested or are in the process of investing.

d. The enterprise is a real and operating commercial entity.

e. Your investment is substantial.

f. Your investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living.

g. You are in a position to develop and direct the enterprise.

h. 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 US.

i. You intend to depart the United States when your E2 status terminates.


Section B: Forms

Submit the DS-160 confirmation sheet and, if applicable, the DS-156E for employees. Include a copy of the MRV fee payment receipt and a detailed job description letter on company letterhead that outlines the role, salary, and qualifications of the applicant. If relevant, provide a signed agreement between the investor and their legal representative.


Section C: Applicant Information

Include a color photocopy of your passport biodata page, any US visas, entry/exit stamps, and I-94 forms. Provide evidence of ongoing residency in the UK, a resume or CV, educational certificates, and a signed statement of intent to depart the US after status termination.


Section D: Ownership

Provide foundational business documents like Articles of Incorporation or Organization, share certificates, and proof of ownership structure. Include photocopies of the passports of the owners and any relevant legal evidence of ownership. If the business is part of a larger structure, submit an organogram and additional documentation proving active and substantial ownership.


Section E: Investment

Detail all invested funds with supporting evidence such as leases, purchase receipts, and intellectual property registrations. For acquisitions, include purchase agreements and, if buying a franchise, provide the franchise agreement and disclosure documents. Show the source and transfer of investment funds to the US, along with financial statements from any parent or affiliate company.


Section F: Real and Operating

Supply evidence like licenses, contracts, marketing materials, and future work agreements to demonstrate the business is real and operational. If linked to a foreign entity, provide its financial statements and annual reports to confirm its active status.


Section G: Marginality

Prove the business is more than marginal by supplying US federal tax returns for the last three years, recent profit and loss statements, and employee payroll documentation. For new businesses, provide a comprehensive business plan, a five-year financial forecast, and a breakdown of start-up costs.


2. E2 Visa 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 details:


a. Financial Strategy
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 support you as the investor and 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.


b. Operational Strategy
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 set out, including your role as a person responsible for the direction and development of the business.

Evidentiary documents will be required to demonstrate that you, as a citizen of a treaty country, own at least 50 per cent of the business.


c. Personnel Strategy
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 are available, 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.


d. Marketing Strategy
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.


e. Your Skills & Experience
You will need to demonstrate that your professional experience or qualifications are connected to the business you intend to set up, which will enable you to implement the business plan effectively and that you have the relevant skills to be capable of running a viable enterprise.

Read our detailed guide about what to include in your E2 business plan.


Section E: E2 Visa Granted


The adjudicating officer will ordinarily give you an immediate answer on your application at the end of your visa interview. If approved, your passport will be taken and your visa added. You will receive notification once your passport is ready for collection.

You can then travel to the US to begin or continue operating your business.


1. Extending your E2 visa







With an E-2 visa, you are permitted to enter the US on a temporary basis but can apply to extend your status indefinitely, provided you remain eligible under the E-2 visa conditions. This means your E-2 status can only be extended if you remain active in the E-2 company. It would not be possible, for example, to retire and remain in the US under the E-2 visa.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply to extend your E-2 visa.

Each renewal requires an application, including a petition and supporting documents, to be submitted evidencing that you have met the requirements under the visa and that you continue to be eligible under the route, e.g. creating at least two full-time jobs for US resident workers.

E2 visa applicants should apply to extend their E2 visa before the expiry of their current grant of leave to maintain continuity of status in the United States.

However, they must demonstrate as part of their renewal their continued intent to return to their home country following completion of work in the US.

There are additional factors to take into consideration when applying to extend, including the requirement to provide specific documentation to accompany and support your renewal application. Take professional advice on your specific circumstances.

Read our comprehensive guide to E2 visa renewals here.


2. Does the E2 visa lead to a Green Card?







For many E2 visa holders who are now settled in the US, it may seem a logical step to secure a more permanent status in the US by applying for a Green Card.

The challenge is that the E2 visa is not a direct route to a Green Card. E2 visas wanting to remain in the US with lawful permanent status will need to consider alternative paths to take them to the Green Card, which could include:


a. EB-5 immigrant visa for investors

b. Sponsorship by an employer for a Green Card or an H1B visa to get on a direct path to permanent residence.

c. Family sponsorship, based on your relationship with a US citizen.

d. Extraordinary ability sponsorship under the EB1-1 Green Card.

e. Extending E2 status


If you are looking to make your status in the US more secure and permanent, there will be a number of factors to consider when deciding how to proceed with securing US permanent residence, such as the timing of your applications, renewals and your travel in and out the country should be carefully considered if you are hoping to apply for a green card while holding E2 status.

The route to a Green Card from an E2 visa is rarely straightforward, requiring the right support and preparation to navigate the US immigration rules. We can advise on options for US permanent residence.


Section F: E2 Visa Application Refused


In 2021, the E2 visa success rate was 92.51%, according to Department of State figures. This is relatively high compared with other routes, primarily because most applicants seek professional support with their application due to the complexities of the eligibility and procedural requirements.

If your application for an E2 visa has been rejected, denied or refused, you will be notified by USCIS. The notice will identify the grounds for refusal, which will largely determine how you can proceed.

Your next steps will depend on the specific circumstances. Taking professional advice will ensure you consider all of your options and proceed with the best course of action for your needs, which could include appealing the decision, reapplying for an E2 visa or applying for a different visa.


1. Appeal the Decision 

Should you believe that the adjudicating officer made the wrong decision, and providing you haven’t gone through consular processing, then you may be able to appeal through the Administrative Appeals Office.

Consular Processing means that you have visited a US Embassy or Consulate in your own country to attend an interview regarding your E-2 visa application. If you have been through consular processing, then your letter of denial will more than likely state that you can’t appeal the decision.

If your E2 application was not dealt with through consular processing, you may consider an appeal.

The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) conducts administrative reviews of appeals, ensuring that there is consistency and accuracy in the implementation of immigration policy. This entails reviewing all documentation and information submitted as part of the original application. It is not possible to provide new or different supporting material for an appeal.

In practice, this means the AAO in the majority of cases upholds the decision made by the adjudicating officer.

With a small percentage having their decision overturned, it is important for applicants to take advice on whether an appeal is the most appropriate response to a refused E2 visa application.

For example, the adjudicating officer may have made a factual error in their decision making, or you may have grounds for appeal if you can show the adjudicating officer has incorrectly calculated your investment by failing to take into account all the material considerations.

To appeal the decision, you will need to file form I290B with the fee within 30 days of the refusal of your E2 Visa. As such, you will need to act quickly from the date you receive your refusal letter to decide your next steps.

The AAO office usually provides initial findings within 45 days of an appeal being lodged. The appeals process as a whole should result in a final decision within six months.


2. Reapply for an E2 Visa

The grounds for refusal may indicate issues with your original application that would need to be addressed as part of any new E2 visa application. Again, take advice to ensure that your new application resolves any issues identified in the original refused application.

To reapply, you will need to file a new I-129 petition and make an appointment at the consulate in your home country. You will also need to pay the relevant fees again.


3. Apply for a Different Visa

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 classification. Should you wish to take up permanent residence in the US, these visa classes will put you on the pathway to obtaining a Green Card (permanent residency status) once the requirements have been fulfilled.

We can advise on the most appropriate immigration route based on your specific circumstances.


Section G: Benefits of the E2 Visa


The E2 visa offers entrepreneurs, investors and business owners numerous benefits, affording opportunities for both business growth and personal development.


1. Legal Work Status

One of the most significant advantages of the E2 visa is that visa holders are permitted to work legally in the US for their own business.

E2 visa holders can actively manage and direct their US business operations, allowing a hands-on approach crucial for the success and growth of the enterprise.

Unlike tourist or temporary business visas, the E2 visa allows for a potentially indefinite stay in the US, with renewals available as long as the business continues to operate effectively and comply with visa requirements.


2. Travel Flexibility in and out of the US.

One of the significant advantages of holding an E2 Treaty Investor Visa is the considerable flexibility it offers for travel. This benefit is particularly appealing to business owners who need to manage operations both within the United States and abroad.

The E2 visa allows for multiple entries into the United States, making it ideal for investors who need to travel frequently for business meetings, conferences, and global operations management.

For investors with business interests in various countries, the E2 visa’s travel flexibility is crucial for overseeing operations, exploring new markets, and maintaining international client relationships.

The ability to travel freely allows E2 visa holders to expand their investment horizons, explore potential international partnerships, and attend global trade shows and events, contributing to the growth and success of their U.S.-based business.

Unlike some other visa categories that may have restrictions on re-entry or require additional permissions, the E2 visa holder can leave and re-enter the US with relative ease, provided their visa and business operations remain in good standing.

Travel flexibility also extends to personal life, enabling E2 visa holders to visit family abroad or take vacations without worrying about re-entry issues as long as they maintain their status.


3. Entrepreneurial Freedom

Entrepreneurs are not limited to a specific location within the US and can expand their business operations across the country.

Visa holders can explore new business opportunities, pivot their business model, and respond to the market’s needs without the constraints often faced by nonimmigrant workers on employer-specific visas.


4. E2 Family Members

E2 visa holders can be accompanied by their spouse and dependent children.

Spouses of E2 visa holders automatically attain work authorization in the US – which is not limited to the E2 company – providing additional financial stability and opportunities for the family.

Children of E2 visa holders can attend US schools and, in some cases, qualify for in-state tuition at colleges and universities.


5. Planning for Renewal and Status Adjustments

While in their home country, E2 visa holders can manage visa renewals at a US Embassy or Consulate, ensuring the continuity of their legal status and business operations in the US.


6. No Cap on E2 Extensions 

There is no limit on the number of times you can renew your E-2 visa, provided you and the E-2 business continue to meet the requirements under the category.


7. Economic Impact

By establishing and growing their businesses in the US, E2 visa holders contribute to the American economy through job creation, innovation, and tax revenues.


Section H: E2 Visa Success Stories


The following anonymized case stories illustrate the kind of challenges E2 applications can face. Since each E2 business is different, professional advice from experienced advisers is invaluable to ensure all the eligibility and procedural requirements are met and evidenced sufficiently.


Case Study 1: The Tech Start-up Innovator 

A tech entrepreneur from India successfully obtained an E2 visa to expand his software development company into the US market.

Initially starting with a small office in Silicon Valley, his investment of $150,000 in business infrastructure and staffing helped to establish a profitable US branch. This not only created jobs but also fostered technological collaboration between the US and Indian tech ecosystems.

His company has since developed partnerships with major U.S. tech firms, enhancing its credibility and market reach.


Case Study 2: The French Culinary Venture

A French chef applied for an E2 visa to open a boutique French bakery in the heart of New York City, bringing authentic French pastries to a vibrant urban neighborhood. With an investment of over $200,000 in kitchen equipment, leasing, and initial operating costs, the bakery quickly became a local favorite, contributing to the neighborhood’s cultural and economic diversity. The success of her initial venture enabled her to open two more locations across the city over the next five years.


Case Study 3: The Canadian Eco-Friendly Cleaning Company 

A Canadian entrepreneur recognized the growing demand for eco-friendly products in the US and decided to introduce his line of green cleaning products by setting up a manufacturing facility in Colorado.

His E2 visa was granted based on an investment of $250,000, which covered production equipment, hiring local staff, and marketing.

The business thrived, benefiting from the US market’s increasing environmental awareness, and led to significant growth in revenue and market expansion within three years.


Section I: Ten Most Common E2 Visa Errors and How to Avoid Them


When applying for an E2 Visa, potential investors must navigate a complex landscape of financial and legal requirements. Understanding these considerations is critical to preparing a successful application and establishing a viable business in the United States.

The following E2 visa tips from our US immigration experts are based on the most common application challenges and mistakes.


1. investment not ‘substantial’

One of the more challenging aspects of the E2 visa application is ascertaining what level of investment would meet the ‘substantial’ requirement. Without any arbitrary or minimum threshold, it is a highly subjective test. The level must be considered ‘substantial’ in relation to the enterprise you are investing in.


2. Business is too ‘marginal’

If USCIS believe that your venture will not generate enough income to support you and your family and cannot demonstrate a reasonable profit growth, they will not approve your application. The enterprise must be seen to be able to provide jobs for US workers, not just supporting the investor and their family. It must also be seen not only as viable at start-up but also as a means of continuing to grow and create jobs and income.


3. Investment too easily retrievable

USCIS will want to make sure that you are fully invested in the venture and not likely to use the system to make money and withdraw it. They will want evidence of your investments and financial commitment in the enterprise to date, such as leases and resources already purchased.


4. Insufficient personal financial risk

While it can be permissible to source funds from a legitimate third party, your investment must demonstrate sufficient personal financial risk to you personally. To meet this requirement, we recommend at least 75% of the investment should include your personal assets.


5. You own less than 50% of the enterprise

Your investment amount needs to be at least 50% of the overall investment.


6. Business not considered legitimate

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.


7. Failure to demonstrate sufficient ties to 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, e.g. mortgage statements, lease agreements, vehicle registrations and family still in your home country.


8. E2 Employees must hold a supervisory position

Individual applicants must satisfy the test for seniority in a position in the US entity.


9. Business plan too weak 

You will be required, as part of your application, to submit an E2 visa business plan.

The E2 business plan should show how your E-2 investment is going to be utilized, with insight into areas such as the business’s financial, personnel and marketing strategies.

An inadequate business plan can result in delayed processing if more information is requested by the adjudicator, or even a refused application if the adjudicator concludes from the business plan information that the visa requirements are not met.

10. Taking professional advice 

E2 Visa applicants are advised to seek guidance from experienced immigration attorneys to overcome and avoid any challenges with their application.


Section J: Summary


The E2 Visa offers a unique opportunity for Treaty country nationals to invest in and actively manage a business in the United States.

The E2 Visa stands out for its flexibility, offering a path for entrepreneurs to bring their business acumen and investment to the US market. With no direct route to a Green Card, it remains primarily a temporary, albeit renewable, option for those looking to explore and expand their business ventures within the United States.

However, the journey to securing an E2 visa is typically fraught with complexities and challenges, primarily due to the stringent eligibility requirements and the detailed application process.

Each step, from ensuring the substantiality of the investment to proving that the enterprise is not marginal, requires meticulous attention to detail and a deep understanding of the regulatory landscape. The inherent challenges of these requirements can be daunting for many investors, particularly those unfamiliar with US immigration law.

While the E2 visa offers a valuable opportunity for non-U.S. nationals to own and operate a business within the United States, achieving this goal requires navigating a challenging regulatory environment. Engaging with experienced legal counsel is not just beneficial; it is a critical component of the application process that enhances the likelihood of success and ensures that the investment aligns with long-term business goals and immigration objectives.


Section K: Expert E2 Visa Support


The process of obtaining an E2 Treaty Investor visa can be lengthy and complex, in particular the requirements for strong supporting documentation and developing a comprehensive E2 business plan.

If you’re considering the E2 Visa pathway for investing and starting a business in the United States, our team is here to guide you through every step of the process.

NNU Immigration are specialist US immigration attorneys with a wealth of knowledge and experience in E-2 visa applications and company registrations. From initial consultation to application submission and beyond, we provide comprehensive support to ensure your journey is smooth and successful.

Our services include:


a. Initial Consultations: Discuss your business idea, eligibility, and visa process with our experts.

b. Business Plan Development: Assistance in crafting a detailed business plan that meets visa requirements.

c. Legal and Financial Advisory: Expert advice on navigating the financial and legal aspects of the E2 Visa.

d. Application and Documentation Support: Complete support in preparing and submitting your E2 Visa application.

e. Renewal Guidance: Assistance with visa renewals to ensure continued compliance and success of your business venture in the US.

If you’re considering applying for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa or have previously made an E2 visa application that has been refused, contact us.


Section L: E2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is an E2 Visa?

The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa allowing nationals from treaty countries to enter and work in the US based on a significant investment in a US business. The visa is intended for investors, entrepreneurs, and certain employees of qualifying businesses.


How much do I need to invest to qualify for an E2 Visa?
While there is no minimum investment amount explicitly set by law, the investment must be substantial enough to ensure the successful operation of the business. Investments typically range from $100,000 to $200,000 or more, depending on the nature of the business.


Can my family accompany me if I have an E2 Visa?
Yes, spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can apply for E2 dependent visas, allowing them to live in the US.


How long can I stay in the US on an E2 Visa?
The E2 Visa initially allows a stay of up to two years. However, it can be renewed indefinitely in two-year increments as long as the visa holder continues to meet the visa requirements.


Can I apply for a Green Card while on an E2 Visa?

The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning it does not directly lead to permanent residency (Green Card). However, visa holders may explore other pathways to a Green Card through employment or family-based categories.


Is there a limit on the number of times I can renew my E2 Visa?

No, there is no limit on the number of renewals for an E2 Visa. As long as your business is active and you comply with the visa requirements, you can continue to renew your visa.


Can I work for any company in the US with an E2 Visa?
No, the E2 Visa specifically allows you to work legally in the US only for the business in which you have invested. If you wish to work for another employer, different visa requirements would apply.


Do I need to hire US workers for my E2 Visa business?
While there is no specific requirement to hire a certain number of US workers, creating jobs for US workers can strengthen your E2 Visa application by demonstrating the economic impact of your business.


Can I travel outside the US with an E2 Visa?
Yes, E2 Visa holders can travel in and out of the US. However, each entry is subject to approval by Customs and Border Protection, and the visa must remain valid.


Can you invest in US real estate with an E2 visa? 

E2 visas cannot typically be used for purely passive real estate investments, such as buying property solely to rent it out without further involvement. For an investment to qualify for an E2 visa, the business activity must be substantial, and the investor must be actively involved in the management or operation of the business.


Section M: Glossary of E2 Visa Terms


E2 Visa: A nonimmigrant visa allowing nationals from treaty countries to enter and work in the US based on a substantial investment in a US business.

Treaty Country: A country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation, allowing for the exchange of goods, services, and investment.

Substantial Investment: A significant monetary investment in a US business, which is enough to ensure the business’s successful operation. The exact amount varies and is not specified by law but generally must be sufficient to influence the business’s success.

Bona Fide Enterprise: A legitimate, active, and operational business that produces goods or services for profit.

Marginal Enterprise: A business that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the investor and their family.

At Risk: The concept that the investment funds are subject to partial or total loss if the business fails, demonstrating the investor’s commitment to the success of the enterprise.

Change of Status: A process for individuals already in the US under a different visa category to change their status to an E2 visa without leaving the US, subject to USCIS approval.

Visa Processing: The procedure for applying for an E2 visa from outside the US involving submission of a visa application to a US Embassy or Consulate.

Renewal: The process of extending the validity of an E2 visa. E2 visas can be renewed indefinitely, provided the business continues to meet all required conditions.

Dependent Visa (E2D): Visas issued to the spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of E2 visa holders, allowing them to live in the US.

Work Authorization for Spouses: A provision that allows spouses of E2 visa holders to apply for work authorization in the US, granting them the right to work in any lawful occupation.

Nonimmigrant Intent: The requirement that visa applicants must intend to leave the US once their visa expires or their status changes is not directly applicable to E2 visa applicants.


Section N: Additional Resources

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Official details on the E2 Treaty Investor Visa, including eligibility requirements, application processes, and latest updates.


US Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs
For information on treaty countries, application procedures abroad, and interview preparation.


Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Understand your tax obligations as an E2 visa holder operating a business in the US.


Small Business Administration (SBA)
Resources for starting and managing your business in the US, including business plans, financing, and legal requirements.


American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)
Find immigration legal representation and stay updated on immigration law.


Embassy or Consulate Websites
For specific instructions related to visa applications from your country.



Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law, (The Legal 500, Who's Who Legal and AILA) and an experienced and trusted advisor to large multinational corporates through to SMEs. She provides strategic immigration advice and specialist application support to corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, artists, actors and athletes from across the globe to meet their US-bound talent mobility needs.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals.

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

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For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.