When foreign nationals are interested in living and working in the U.S. while investing in the U.S. economy, they generally have a few visa options available to them. Each visa option has its potential benefits and drawbacks. For example, L1 visas allow employees in managerial and executive capacities (as well as those with qualifying specialized knowledge) to transfer to a U.S. branch, subsidiary, affiliate, or parent company office in the U.S. However, L1 visas have strict eligibility requirements concerning where a transferee may work in the U.S. and aspiring visa holders must have worked for the foreign-based sponsoring company for at least one year within the past three years.
EB5 vs. EB2 Visas
Wealthier foreign nationals tend to consider EB5 visas, which allow them conditional green card status in exchange for investing in an eligible U.S. enterprise and working in a significant managerial capacity at that enterprise. However, this visa option requires a hefty financial investment of $500,000 or $1 million, depending on the U.S. enterprise.
Due to its lack of strict employment eligibility criteria and because it requires a lesser financial investment than an EB5 visa does, the E2 visa is a particularly appealing option for many foreign investors and business owners. The E2 visa can be renewed again and again, for as long as the business the visa holder has invested in continues to be profitable and employs a minimum number of American workers. Additionally, an E2 visa holder may choose to live abroad and re-enter the U.S. at any time as long as their visa remains valid. Dependents of E2 visa holders who are younger than age 21 may obtain an education in the U.S. and spouses of E2 visa holders may apply to work in the U.S. The E2 visa is an undeniably attractive option for foreign investors. However, not everyone is eligible to apply for its benefits.
E2 Visa Requirements
There are three main requirements an investor must meet before submitting an E2 visa petition to the U.S. government. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, the foreign national must either have already invested or be in the active process of investing “a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States.” The “substantial amount of capital” required is relative, as there is no set investment amount that an E2 visa applicant must make. This requirement is fulfilled if the investor purchases an established enterprise, establishes a new enterprise with these funds, or puts up enough capital that the investor’s commitment to the enterprise’s successful operation is clear.
Generally, this last option is fulfilled when an investor places enough capital into an enterprise to support the applicant’s position as developer and director of that enterprise. Essentially, if the business is small, less capital will be needed to fulfill these requirements than if the business is significant in size. The investment itself must be made in the form of funds placed at risk of loss if the enterprise doesn’t generate a profit.
Additional E2 Visa Requirements
Additionally, the E2 visa applicant must have non-immigrant intent. This requirement is met when the applicant clearly demonstrates they are seeking “enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise” (USCIS). The applicant clearly demonstrates this intent by proving a minimum 50% ownership and/or operational control of the qualifying enterprise. Finally, the E2 visa applicant must be a national of a country that currently maintains a “treaty of commerce and navigation” with the United States. This last requirement can be frustrating for many investors who are willing to and capable of meeting the other requirements but are barred from E2 visa status because their country of origin doesn’t maintain requisite treaty status with the U.S. It is worth noting that eligible employees of qualifying treaty investors may also apply for admission to the U.S. through an E2 visa petition.
List of E2 Visa Countries/Treaty Nations
Only foreign nationals, not legal permanent residents, of the following nations are eligible to apply for E2 treaty investor status in the United States:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Denmark (excluding Greenland)
Trinidad & Tobago
Visa Assistance Is Available
If you are a foreign national of an E2 visa country and you are interested in making an E2 visa investment, please connect with an experienced immigration attorney at LawTrades today. Similarly, if your country is not on the E2 treaty country list and you’re interested in investor visa alternatives, please schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys today. LawTrades has helped thousands of visa applicants and sponsoring employers successfully navigate their immigration goals. Once we learn more about your unique needs and circumstances, we will be able to advise you of your options and provide necessary support. We look forward to speaking with you.