E-2 treaty investor visas are non-immigrant visas reserved for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S. Making an E-2 visa investment allows you, the financier, to enter the U.S. on account of the business that benefits from your capital.
However, while there are many advantages to having an E-2 visa, they each have a specific investment requirement. Be sure to take these factors into account as you consider making an E-2 visa investment.
Top 6 E-2 Visa Advantages
1. You can work legally in the U.S. for a company that is the subject of your investment.
One of the main E-2 visa advantages is that you can conduct business legally within the United States and also be employed by that business. Whether the company is pre-existing or you’re just starting up, it is important that you play a vital role in the business.
As proof, you need to show that you will be developing and directing the E-2 visa investment. You can do this by demonstrating ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise or have significant operational control through a managerial position.
You can demonstrate this by providing a list of all owners and their percentage of ownership and it should be signed by all owners to show that you possess a controlling interest in the business.
2. There is no minimum investment amount that is required.
The U.S. government does not specify a minimum or maximum amount for an E-2 visa investment. However, your investment must be a substantial amount and you must not be able to withdraw your funds.
The definition of a substantial amount is not quantified by U.S. government regulations. However, the rule of thumb is that capital investment should be proportionate to the nature of the business. While official requirements indicate an investment of $100,000, we have seen a wide range of scenarios, including getting approvals for investments of only about $50,000. On the end of the spectrum, an investment of $100,000 does not guarantee an approval if the business necessitates a higher investment.
This is because the U.S. government is looking to approve businesses and grant E-2 visas to investors that are going to make a positive and significant impact on the U.S. economy. Businesses that require a smaller investment are deemed marginal and are not considered to have a great economic impact.
If you plan on providing an even more significant E-2 visa investment of $500,000 or $1,000,000, you now have the opportunity to become a permanent resident in the U.S by applying for an EB-5 green card.
The reason for this is because the U.S. is looking to decrease the unemployment rate. By investing such a large amount, the government projects that your investment will create more job opportunities thus benefiting the U.S. economy.
3. Your spouse can work under an E-2 dependent visa.
Spouses of E-2 investors may work in the U.S. by applying for a temporary work permit or employment authorization document (EAD). This allows the spouse to work for any company in the U.S. or start his or her own business.
One can file for an EAD by filling out a Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work. Generally, spouses are granted the same period of stay as the E-2 visa holder. They are also able to file an extension of stay in an E-2 dependent classification by filling out a Form I-539.
4. Your children under 21 can attend a school of your choice with an E-2 dependent visa.
Children under 21 may not qualify for a work visa but they are able to pursue a higher education that will be accredited. They will then be able to apply for other non-immigrant visas to work after seeking a degree.
Usually, children would have to file for an F-1 visa which only allows the child to attend the school in which the visa was approved. However, there are many more options with an E-2 dependent visa.
After the child has reached 21, they can no longer stay in the U.S. under an E-2 dependent visa. They will then have to apply for their own visa which can permit them to stay in the U.S. to continue school and/or begin to work.
5. You can travel freely in and out of the U.S.
As long as your E-2 treaty trader visa is valid, foreign investors and their dependents have the choice of living outside of the United States for an undetermined amount of time and can come and go as they please.
6. You can stay indefinitely.
E-2 visa holders maintain their E-2 status for two-year increments and can request an extension of stay an unlimited amount of times. Essentially, you can reside and conduct business in the U.S. for as long as your extensions are approved. You can do this without being a green card holder or a U.S. citizen.
Because children and spouses are often granted the same period of stay as E-2 visa holders, they too will need to apply for an extension. This must be done prior to the expiration of their E-2 dependent visa to remain in the U.S.
According to USCIS, E-2 treaty trader visa holders may apply to extend stay if:
- You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a non-immigrant visa
- Your non-immigrant visa status remains valid
- You have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa
- You have not violated the conditions of your admission
- Your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay
How to Apply for an E-2 Visa
If you’ve decided that an E-2 visa is the best fit, it can be obtained by filling out an I-129 form for non-immigrant workers. E-2 visa processing time depends on whether you’re applying from inside the U.S. or out the country. On average, however, the I-129 takes about six months to process.
If you are outside the country, then you will need to go through consular processing. This means that you will be required to travel to a predetermined U.S. consulate or embassy in order to participate in a one-on-one consular interview with an immigration officer.
During this interview, you will be asked questions about your background, your enterprise, and your plans for living in the U.S. The purpose will be to determine if your case is legitimate.
What About Premium Processing?
Fortunately, if six months is too long to wait for your E-2 visa, you can opt for premium processing. This optional service allows you to pay an extra fee and have your I-129 petition’s processing time shortened to 15 calendar days.
Keep in mind that this does not expedite any other aspect of the E-2 visa process and will not improve your petition’s chances of being approved. Work with your attorney to determine if this is an appropriate course of action for your case.
How Much Will an E-2 Visa Cost?
There are a few fees associated with obtaining an E-2 visa:
- I-129 basic filing fee: $460
- DS-160 fee: $205. This form is only for those that are going through consular processing.
- Biometrics fee (if applicable): $85
- Premium processing fee: $1,440 (this is optional)
- Attorney fee: This varies from one attorney to the next. You can see the flat fee that VisaNation Law Group charges on the fees page.
Other costs, such as traveling costs, may come along with your E-2 visa process depending on your situation. Consult your immigration attorney to determine which fees are applicable to your case.
Adjusting from E-2 to EB-5 Status
If you would like to stay in the U.S. permanently to work on your enterprise, you can apply for the EB-5 investor green card. To do this, you need to invest at least $1 million in a U.S. business or $500,000 in a business that is in a rural or high-unemployment area. You should be able to prove that this investment will benefit the U.S. economy.
Your qualifications for the EB-5 will depend on the nature of your E-2 visa investment. You may need to invest a substantial amount more in order to meet the minimum investment amount.
The process involves filing an I-526 with the USCIS. The date that the Service obtains your petition is your “priority” date, which must match or pass the “final action date” given in your category on the monthly visa bulletin provided by the Department of State. Once that happens, you can file an I-485 form to adjust your status. If your date is already current, as most are, then you can file the I-526 and the I-485 concurrently.
Both the I-526 and the I-485 can take up to six months each to process and premium processing is not available for these forms. This process is delicate and mistakes are easy to make. This is why it is always recommended to hire an attorney who has extensive experience with investor visas and green cards.