The E-2 visa is an employment-based, temporary, nonimmigrant visa for foreign citizens. It allows them to invest and work in their business within the country. There is no minimum amount for an investment, though it serves as earnest money and indicates to adjudicating officers how committed the investor is in their proposed endeavor. An important element is also that investors must be from treaty nations.

The central purpose of this visa accommodation is primarily to bring added value to the U.S. economy, and to create jobs for U.S. citizens.

In this article, we discuss who qualifies for an E-2 visa, and the types of funding that the U.S. government does not allow.

The E-2 Visa

The E-2 visa is for citizens of countries with which the U.S. maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. It is somewhat versatile in that the applicant is not confined to any certain career, nor do they have to seek a sponsoring employer.

E-2 Treaty Investors seeking lawful employment authorization for themselves and their employees can do so by putting forth a substantial cash investment into their business. Alternatively, they can purchase a compliant business that has previously been established. The critical factor here is that the cash investment must be of legal means, be put at-risk and has to be irrevocably committed to the venture.

Since the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not set an exact precedent when it comes to substantial investment baselines, adjudicating officers use a proportionality test. 

In short, they analyze the cost and/or value of the proposed business, and compare it to the investment amount. The percentage calculated denotes how substantial the investment is, and whether it indicates a sufficient commitment by the investor. 

Though an investment of $100,000 cannot be said to be the requirement, as applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, it is often rare for an E-2 visa to be obtained with very much less. Conclusively, there must be a significant economic contribution involved, the E-2 business must simply be commercially sensible. 

We also have a guide discussing how hard it is to get an E-2 visa. It may help you understand some of the challenges you could face when applying.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Qualifications

A Treaty Investor seeking the acquisition, or establishment of, a U.S.-based venture will be required to meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be from a country which has a treaty with the United States
  • Own or be an executive, supervisor or otherwise essential employee of the business
  • If he or she does not own the business, it must be owned by at least 50% of nationals from the same country as him or her 
  • Able to develop, direct and work in his or her business in the U.S.
  • Intentions for moving to the U.S. is to either develop their E-2 business, or purchase one
  • Made, or will make a substantial investment into the business
  • Source of funds must be lawful and acquired in good faith
  • Investment must have been, or will be put at risk
  • Investment must be permanently committed to their business 
  • Must intend to reside within the U.S., throughout the their E-2 visa’s validity period
  • Must intend to depart the U.S. upon the completion or the expiration of their E-2 visa

In other words, the business must be lawful and bonafide, with all funding received by honest means. Likewise, applicants are required to provide proof that their business is real, and operational (or close to it), and that it is expected to generate a substantial profit. It cannot be merely for the owner or investor to make a living. Similarly, the business must create jobs for U.S. citizens and stimulate the U.S. economy.

For more detail, read out post about the E-2 visa requirements.

E-2 Visa Funding Exclusions

When considering the investment funds an applicant has, the following three prevent the investor from securing an E-2 visa.

  1. The investor cannot attempt to use a business they have inherited
  2. The investor cannot use loan funding acquired from a lender
  3. The funds cannot be obtained by illegal means

The premise for the visa’s funding requirements is that the investor must retain full authorization and ownership of the money. The financial resources must be placed at risk to prove how earnest they are in establishing a business in the U.S. Furthermore, all sources of funds must be able to be traced back to the beginning of their acquisition all while proven to be of lawful activity. 

In most circumstances, the funds are required to be irrevocably committed and dispersed before an E-2 visa can be obtained. 

It is also worth mentioning, the funds can be from money the investor was gifted (meaning they do not have to return it at a later time) or that he or she has won.

If you are considering purchasing or establishing a business in the United States, are from a treaty nation, have a lawful business where its investments were acquired by honest means, and meet all the E-2 visa requirements, then you may be eligible for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa.

If you are starting a business, make sure to read our guide on the E-2 visa business plan.

FAQs for Who Qualifies For An E-2 Visa

What is an E-2 Visa and who qualifies for it?

The E-2 visa is a temporary, nonimmigrant visa for foreign citizens who invest in and work in their own business within the United States. To qualify, investors must be from a treaty nation, make a substantial investment in a U.S.-based business, and aim to contribute significantly to the U.S. economy.

What are the investment requirements for an E-2 Visa?

While there's no minimum investment amount specified, the investment must be substantial relative to the total cost of either purchasing or establishing the business. It should indicate a serious commitment to the business venture and be large enough to ensure the investor's financial commitment to the successful operation of the business.

Are there any specific nationalities that are eligible for the E-2 Visa?

Yes, only citizens of countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. are eligible for an E-2 visa. The applicant must be from one of these treaty nations to qualify.

Can the investment for an E-2 Visa be funded through loans or inheritance?

No, the investment cannot be funded through inheritance or loans. It must be obtained by legal means and be fully under the control of the investor. The funds should be at risk in the commercial sense, meaning that they are subject to partial or total loss if the business fails.

What kind of business qualifies for an E-2 Visa investment?

The business must be real, operational or close to operational, and expected to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the investor and their family. It should contribute to the U.S. economy by creating jobs for U.S. citizens. The business can't be marginal, meaning it can't be established solely for the purpose of earning a living for the investor and family.

Final Thoughts

The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa provides foreign investors a way to contribute to the U.S. economy through substantial, active investment in U.S. businesses.

Qualifying for this visa requires meeting strict criteria, including:

  • investing in a real, operational or nearly operational business
  • demonstrating the investment's substantial and at-risk nature
  • ensuring the business is more than marginal

The business must significantly impact the U.S. economy beyond just supporting the investor and their family, and the investor must maintain operational control and ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise.

While the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa and does not lead to permanent residency, it is an essential tool for foreign nationals looking to invest and grow businesses in the U.S., thereby creating job opportunities and stimulating economic growth.

If you have questions about if you qualify for an E-2 visa, please contact Shoreline Immigration to schedule a consultation.