The E-2 treaty investor visa is designed for foreign entrepreneurs seeking to make a substantial business investment in the United States. The E-2 visa is available to nationals of eighty-two specific countries that maintain a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation with the United States are eligible for the E-2 visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that can be renewed as many times as needed provided all business investment related requirements are maintained.
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is an ideal solution for investors looking for a visa with no minimum investment amount and no limit on visa renewals. E-2 investors may purchase a franchise, open a new business, or purchase/revitalize an existing business. Although there is no overall, specific investment amount for an E-2 visa, the amount invested must be within normal parameters relative to E-2 investors intended business or industry. In addition, the invested amount must be put at risk, meaning that the funds must be shown to be utilized with object of generating a profit. It is not enough to simply show that the required funds are in a bank account, they must be actively being used to establish and develop the business. E-2 investors and their families may reside in the US as long as their business is operational, generating a profit and all other eligibility requirements are maintained.
While the E-2 visa does not lead directly to permanent residency, E-2 investors may have options to convert their E-2 status to U.S. permanent residence. It is important to discuss all possible aspects of the E-2 visa and other immigration options with an immigration attorney at the outset of the process.
Click the E-2 visa category below to learn more about:
Once the application is completed and submitted, the applicant will have to complete visa processing and an interview process. The manner and location of these steps will differ depending on the specifics of the individual case. When working with an attorney, the immigration attorney will submit the E-2 case to USCIS if the investor is in the US and is, therefore, changing his or her non-immigrant status. USCIS typically adjudicates E-2 cases within 3-4 months. Cases can be expedited by paying an additional premium processing fee. If using premium processing a decision on the case will be rendered within 15 calendar days. If the investor chooses to change their status inside the U.S., they should wait at least 90 days after entry to begin the application process. It is important to keep in mind that if an applicant is in the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visitor visa with family members, they are not permitted to work, and children are not allowed to attend school, until change of status has been granted.
If the investor is applying for an E-2 visa from abroad then the visa application is done online and the application is sent to the US Embassy where the visa processing and interview will be conducted. For the interview, applicants must bring a copy of their complete E-2 file, valid passports for all family members, updated financial documents, original civil documents, online visa application confirmation, and other embassy-specific items, which should be prepared in advance. At the visa interview, the applicant will be asked about their qualifications to run their chosen business. The investor will also be asked for details about the business enterprise as well as about future business plans. The interview will help the consular officer determine eligibility. Consular processing typically takes around 4-6 weeks from the time the online application is submitted, until the non-immigrant visa interview date. Wait times for E-2 treaty investor visa interviews vary by Embassy and may vary by season. Consular processing applicants should be aware that each U.S. Embassy has slightly different requirements for E-2 applicants and processing procedure may vary between countries. Working with an attorney can help to ensure that all embassy-specific requirements are met.
Both the USCIS and U.S. Embassies often request additional evidence before issuing a final approval of E-2 treaty investor applications. It is essential to provide all requested information and documentation within the designated timeframe.
If applying for an E-2 visa abroad, the investor will receive a non-immigrant visa upon approval of the application. After the E-2 visa is issued, the investor and their family members must travel to the U.S. within the validity period of the E-2 visa. The visa validity period ranges from 90 days to five years. The length of time an E-2 visa is issued for is determined by the reciprocity schedule between the U.S. and the investor’s country. Once the investor and family members have entered the U.S., they will receive a two-year authorized stay in E-2 status to operate the E-2 business. An investor and dependents can renew their E-2 status with USCIS indefinitely, as long as the business is operating successfully. An investor may re-enter the U.S multiple times with a valid, unexpired E-2 visa, which will automatically renew the two-year authorized stay upon each arrival to the U.S. However, not all countries provide multi-year, multi-entry E-2 visas so investors are advised to make note of their country’s visa reciprocity details. If an investor leaves the U.S. without a valid E-2 visa, they must re-apply for a new visa at a U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad.
If applying for an E-2 visa in the US, the applicant will receive E-2 status, which does not include authorization for exit and re-entry into the U.S. Investors who change to E-2 status from inside the U.S. through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security must apply for an E-2 visa abroad with the U.S. Department of State if they wish to travel outside the U.S. and re-enter as an E-2 investor.
E-2 investors should keep accurate financial records and business documents to demonstrate that the E-2 business is operating successfully in order to renew the E-2 status when applicable. The adjudicating officer will determine if the E-2 renewal is required after one or two years.