When foreign entrepreneurs are interested in investing in American enterprises while simultaneously living in the United States in order to oversee their business investments, they are granted the opportunity to obtain a specialized visa in order to make those visions reality. The E2 visa is only available to foreign nationals willing to spend a significant amount of money or other eligible resources in order to invest in a qualifying American enterprise.
General E2 Investment Requirements
It is important to understand that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires more than a straightforward capital investment from those seeking to obtain E2 visas. The government both requires the investment to be made in a certain way, to be made at a certain level and USCIS also places additional restrictions on the E2 process. For example, foreign nationals must generally hold citizenship with a treaty country. While the U.S. currently maintains treaties of commerce and navigation with a great many other countries, not every country has such a treaty in place. If you do not currently hold citizenship with a treaty country (a current list of qualifying nations can be viewed on the Department of State’s website), please speak with your immigration attorney. You may still be able to obtain an E2 visa through some creative problem-solving or you may qualify for an alternative visa arrangement.
When it comes to the process of investing for the purposes of obtaining an E2 visa, an applicant must first identify a bona fide business enterprise in the United States in which to invest. Please note that it is possible to invest in new enterprises, provided they meet all other E2 visa criteria. Once a qualifying business enterprise has been identified, the applicant must put their funds and/or qualifying resources “at risk” of loss in order to prove to the government that investment in the enterprise is genuine. Once funds are placed at risk, the applicant will need to work with an attorney in order to properly demonstrate that the applicant is seeking to enter the U.S. for the purpose of both developing and directing the qualifying investment enterprise. In general, the government requires the applicant to obtain a minimum of 50 percent ownership of the business in question and/or possession of the enterprise’s operational control in a significant capacity.
Capital Investment Minimums for E2 Visa Eligibility
There is no mandatory minimum amount of capital and/or resources that an E2 applicant must invest in order to qualify for a visa. However, it is important to understand that an investment of capital must meet certain criteria. For example, the government requires E2 visa applicants to invest an amount that is “substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.” As a result, it would be difficult to obtain an E2 visa after only investing $100,000 in a business, as new businesses generally require much more than this amount in order to get off the ground. The exact amount of money required in order to obtain an E2 visa is relative to the cost of conducting a specific kind of business.
In addition to the “substantial in relationship to the total cost of purchasing… or establishing a new” business mandate, applicants are required to provide enough capital that the investment is considered “sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise” and “of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.” Each of these requirements supports the overall E2 focus on the concept of relative proportionality. If a foreign entrepreneur is looking to start a relatively small business, the investment may be relatively small in order to meet E2 criteria. If the business is going to be rather large, the investment must be similarly significant in order to meet the same criteria.
A more concrete requirement holds that the investment enterprise itself may not be “marginal” in nature. Practically speaking, this means that if an enterprise does not have the capacity (presently or in the future) to generate more than a “minimal living” income for the E2 applicant, it is not an eligible enterprise under E2 criteria. It is worth noting however, that even this requirement is somewhat flexible, as it is more strictly enforced for investment in existing enterprises than it is for investment in new ones. Even if your application meets all other criteria, if the marginality requirement is compromised, your application could be rejected.
Visa and Investment Assistance Is Available
If you are interested in securing an E2 foreign entrepreneur visa, you will have to identify a bona fide U.S. enterprise in which to invest and place a certain amount of capital at risk of loss before your application can be properly reviewed by the U.S. government. However, you should not take these first, critical steps without consulting an attorney as certain investments and investment levels will not meet the relatively proportional criteria for an E2 visa. Please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced LawTrades immigration attorney today. We will be happy to advise you of your options and help you navigate the complex E2 application process as efficiently and effectively as possible.