What is an E-2 Visa?

Overview of What is an E-2 Visa?

ELIGIBILITY FOR USA E2 TREATY BUSINESS VISA

  • This visa is only allowed for the citizens of countries with whom USA has a treaty. These countries include Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Grenada, Iran, Jordon, Oman, Srilanka, Philippines etc.
  • The E2 Treaty investor visa allows the investors from treaty countries to live and to do business in USA with his / her dependents
  • It also allows executive and management level employees from treaty countries as well

KEY ASPECTS FOR USA E2 – NON IMMIGRANT BUSINESS VISA

  • First the investment in business has to be done as per the business plan and then the petition of E2 visa has to be filed.
  • There is no requirement in E2 visa that applicant has worked for the business outside the USA for a set period of time
  • There is no requirement under the E2 visa scheme that the business continues operating outside the USA.
  • E2 visa is only available to people from specific nationality which have got treaty with the USA
  • E2 visa does not have requirement to generate minimum number of employment

PRIMARY CONDITIONS TO AVAIL E2 BUSINESS VISA

  • There has to be a substantial investment in the USA under E2 visa application. There is no specific investment requirement. However based on past experience, it is recommended that minimum of USD 50,000 onwards investment in business should be done in order to make bright chances for success of an application. Investments could include travel, sales and marketing, equipment purchases and a range of other expenses.  E2 visa registration with smaller investment can be more difficult.
  • The investment in the business has to be done upfront regardless of success or failure of the application. However in certain circumstances where existing business is purchased, the payment can be held in an escrow account and released to the seller of business once E2 visa application is approved.
  • The investor with the E2 visa treaty requisite nationality will usually need to have at least a fifty percent ownershipand control of the US business.
  • There is no requirement to employ a particular number of US citizens or residents. Showing that you will employ two or three employees in the next one or two years will often be enough.
  • You should have a business plan detailing the future plans for a new business. This should have detailed information on the new business and the plans to employ new staff in the USA.
  • Details of the skills, qualifications, and work history should be provided for any prospective applicant.
  • That the principal investor, and any other E2 visa staff, must be able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E2 visa status, since the E2 is a non-immigrant visa category. However, the E2 Treaty investor visa can continue to be extended indefinite period.

DIFFERENT BUSINESS OPTIONS TO AVAIL E2 VISA IN USA

  • Business startup – Setting up completely new business
  • Business expansion – Setting up of branch of an existing overseas business
  • Buying existing business – Buying completely or minimum 50% shares of an existing business
  • Buying franchise

CONSULAR E2 VISA PROCESSING OR CHANGE OF STATUS WITHIN USA

  • It is usual that E2 Registration and E2 visa is granted for a longer period of time at an Embassy.  This depends on nationality and the policy at an US Embassy.   However, in many cases the validity period when applying outside the US is five years.  This is true for British citizens and many other nationalities.  If you apply for change of status in the USA the maximum period granted is two years.
  • If you apply under Consular processing not only is it more likely that E2 Registration and Visa will be for a much longer period, you will also not need to apply again. If you are successful in your application for an E2 visa you should be able to travel freely in and out of the US without having to make another application.  If you have applied via change of status you have to apply again for a visa at an Embassy or Consulate.  There is therefore an added risk that the US Embassy will not accept the decision of the USCIS in the US.
  • The advantage of applying for an E2 visa via a change of status in the US is that with premium processing a decision can be obtained faster.

FAMILY AND DEPENDENTS OF E2 VISA HOLDER

  • Spouses and dependents of E2 visa workers are can also apply for E2 visas, and will normally be granted the same period of stay as the principal E2 visa holder. 
  • E2 – spouses and dependents do not need to be the same nationality as the principle applicant.
  • Spouses are allowed to work. However, he / she has to apply for work authorization.
  • Children under the age of 21 can study but are not allowed to work under the E2 Treaty Investor visa category. 
  • Children after reaching the age of 21 years of age under E2 visa status will need to change to his / her individual visa status.

FAQs

No one really knows how much is a sufficient investment to register a business under the E2 Investor scheme.  It is up to the discretion of the E2 Treaty Unit at the US Embassy or Consulate or the USCIS if filing in the US.  There are many who say that you should invest about US$100,000.   However, there are many cases for IT related businesses and consultancy businesses where investments of tens of thousands of dollars may be sufficient.  It is up to the discretion of the US visa officer.  It certainly helps if the investment is larger.  It may also help if the business is already trading in the US.

You may need to make an investment and put “money at risk” before you are granted registration as an E2 Treaty Investor.  Just putting money into a US bank account is unlikely to be sufficient to be able to register as an E2 business.  Alternatively, you may be able to put money into a special escrow account only to be transferred if the E2 visa is granted.   Escrow account arrangements are more likely to be relevant if you are buying an existing business instead of starting a new business.  In such a situation the seller of the business could agree for money to be held in an escrow account.

Only nationals on the E2 Treaty Countries list can apply unless gaining entry as dependents.  Nationals of many Countries around the World come under the E2 visa Country list.   Most European Countries come under the list and so do many other Countries including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  Countries that are noticeably absent from the list include India, China and Russia.   Nationals of Taiwan can apply.  People who are not a citizen of list of E@ treaty visa countries can apply for L1 visa category.

The processing times at US Embassies and Consulates to register an E2 visa business varies greatly around the World.  Some may be able to complete applications in a few weeks.  Others could take a number of months.  If you are able to apply from within the US, applications made directly to the USCIS in the US can be fast.

You might choose to run your business remotely by appointing a manager or add a partner in business or sale the assets of the business.

For a consultation, call +971 4 4542366 or email us at info@flyingcolour.com.

 

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