The E2 visa requires that you invest a substantial amount of capital into a new or existing enterprise in the US. This brings up two questions — what types of investments will be considered capital? & how much capital will be considered substantial? Something to keep in mind at the outset is that the purpose of the E2 visa is to encourage foreign investors to make substantial investments in the US economy. The hurdles and requirements in the application process are designed to make sure that purpose is being met.
First, many types of investments will be considered capital. Any funds or assets that you put at risk of loss by investing them in your company will count towards the capital requirement. So, to be more specific to your question, the money being poured into hiring employees/marketing will be considered capital because it is being invested into your business and is at risk of loss should your company not make a profit.
Next, whether an investment is substantial is not determined by any mathematical formula, but by looking at the circumstances as a whole. Here, it will be helpful to have financial projections that show how your investment will lead to a profit.The projected profit needs to be more than marginal meaning that it needs to be more than enough to provide a minimal living or make an economic impact. Further, the investment should be substantial in relation to the business as a whole. In other words, the larger the expected profit, the larger the investment needs to be.
So that means a low cost startup would be one in which you could demonstrate that a smaller investment is still substantial in relation to the business as a whole.
I hope this answered your question, but if you have any more or if you are looking for an immigration attorney to help your with your E2 visa process, I invite you to visit. We know that searching for and hiring an attorney can get unnecessarily expensive, so we work to cut out those unnecessary costs by connecting you directly with an experienced attorney who can answer your questions. We offer free initial consultations and affordable flat-fee pricing! Hope this helps.