USA Visa E2: Pros & Cons

The US E-2 visa may be the option for you if you’re looking to live and do business in the US for a potentially unlimited amount of time, but do not envisage or intend to become a US citizen.

The E-2 visa becomes open to certain non-US national individuals in exchange for substantial investment into a new or existing US-based enterprise that will result in job creation for US resident workers. There are many advantages to this route, but there are also limitations and requirements placed on visa holders. We explore some of the pros and cons of the E2 visa for you to ask if it’s right for your circumstances?

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Pros of the USA Visa E2

While the E2 visa requirements do not specify a precise threshold for investment – this will instead be assessed against the investment needs and costs of the E-2 company in question – in many cases, the initial investment amount is likely to be considerably smaller than that required under alternative visa routes, such as the EB-5 program.

The E-2 also holds appeal for US citizens who have renounced citizenship but wish to return, on a temporary basis, for investment purposes – provided you do not exceed the Substantial Presence Test i.e. are not present in the US for more than 120 days per year, only your US income will be taxed.

E-2 visa processing times are, relative to other investment routes, considerably quicker. AS it is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa, the application and adjudication lead times are a matter of months, rather than years for routes such as the EB-5 Immigrant visa.

The E2 company cannot relate to a passive investment, which means the investor has to take an active role in the enterprise, which will provide you with control over the investment activity and return. This is unlike the EB5 which requires applicants to essentially hand over their investment for other parties to manage, with no guarantee of return.

The E-2 visa also extends to family members. Your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 will be permitted to join you when you relocate to the US under the dependant visa. Once in the US, your spouse can apply to work through employment authorization, with no restrictions on where your spouse can work. Your children will also be able to attend school in the US. If they go to a state college, they’ll be eligible for in-state tuition.

Compared to the EB5, the E-2 visa does offer holders considerably more flexibility with travel. There aren’t stringent presence requirements and you can generally travel in and out of the US on an unlimited basis while your visa remains valid and provided your entry into the US is on the basis of the E-2 activity.

A final benefit of the E-2 visa is that qualifying employees of the E-2 company can also apply to join and work with the investor in the US. The employee has to be of the same nationality as the investor, and be operating in a supervisory or executive role within the company, or hold special qualifications that make the employee essential to the operation.

In essence, you should be able to prove that there is valid reason to bring said employee with you and that he or she possesses skills not readily available among American workers.

Cons of the USA Visa E2

The E-2 investment visa is going to require you to work in the US and prove that you are doing so.

This visa does not present a clear path to citizenship. If your intention is to eventually become a US citizen, you’re going to want to look into other options, like the EB-5 immigrant visa.

You will have to renew the E-2 visa every few years, depending on which E-2 country you hold citizenship to.

The E-2 visa is geared more towards domestic businesses. If you’re looking to undertake an imports/exports enterprise, you should check out the E1 Treaty Trader visa instead.

Under an E-2 visa you are only able to work within your approved enterprise. The situation is slightly different for employees who are potentially permitted to work for subsidiaries or the parent company of the original enterprise.

Finally, the route is only available to you if you hold a passport from one of a designated list of countries. These are countries that have signed a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US. Agreements vary between different countries, as such the visa conditions also differ. This will determine for example the maximum visa period allowed under the E-2 route as well as the maximum number of times you can renew the visa.

The UK for example does have a treaty in place, which permits British citizens to stay in the US under the E-2 visa for up to 5 years, with no limit on the number of extensions (provided the petitioner continues to qualify under the visa requirements) but other nationalities are limited to a 3 month stay or may not even qualify as their country does not have an E2 treaty in effect. In such instances, take advice on alternative options.

E2 visa eligibility

Where the US E-2 visa does look attractive for your needs, you will need to go on and check that you do meet the visa criteria:

  • You hold a passport from an E-2 Treaty country
  • You are investing a substantial amount of capital in a business enterprise in the US.
  • You are entering the US to develop and direct the investment enterprise.
  • You own at least 50% of the enterprise or have significant operational control.
  • The investment presents a financial risk to the E-2 investor and is intended to turn a profit – it cannot be philanthropic or not-for-profit.
  • The enterprise must be profitable enough to support the investor, any dependants and also provide employment for US resident workers by the time of renewal. More than this – the enterprise must not be marginal – it must be sufficiently profitable to be deemed of economic benefit to the US.

Do you have a question about the E-2 Investor visa?

NNU Immigration specialize in US visas. 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.

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