E2 Visa Requirements for investors
Types of businesses investments that get E2 visas
I use the E2 visa when people are trying to come into the US to invest in a smaller business. They’ll typically use it for something like investing in a franchise, a sandwich shop, or maybe a smoothie shop. I’ve also done it for consultants who are investing in a consulting business in the US. And I’ve also used it for multinational companies that are opening new offices in the US. The visa is for investors who are investing smaller amounts of money into businesses in the US.
Basic requirements to get the E2 visa
The visa obviously has its requirements in order to get the visa issued to you. One of the basic requirements is that you have to have a treaty of commerce and navigation between the United States and your country of citizenship.
Another requirement is that you have to make what’s called a substantial investment. The immigration laws don’t really define what a substantial investment is, but typically it’s using a inverted sliding scale. And the way that that inverted sliding scale works is that the lower, the value of the business, the more money you need to invest into the business. So, for example, if you have a $50,000 business that you want to invest in, then you would probably want to invest the full $50,000. However, if the business is worth $750,000, then you might be able to get away with investing less than $750,000 into the business, and still have it viewed as being a substantial investment.
Another requirement is that the funds have to be actively invested. That means that the funds have to be subject to loss that can’t be put in a bank account and then just left there and have you say that I’ve made the investment. You have to do things like potentially getting a lease or investing in equipment or doing other improvements to your business that would show that the funds are at risk and that they could potentially be lost if your business doesn’t move forward. So the funds have to be at risk.
Can't be a marginal enterprise
Also, the enterprise cannot be what’s called a marginal enterprise. It cannot be a business that is only employing you and taking care of your daily living expenses. Instead, the business has to be one that will eventually grow and employ additional US workers, not just you.
Actively Develop and Direct the business
Another requirement is you have to develop and direct the enterprise. You cannot use this as a passive investment. You have to actually be involved in the growth of the business. If you’re not doing that, then that creates problems down the road.
Your spouse and child can come with you
The E2 visa does allow for your spouse to accompany you and your children who are under 21 years to also accompany you.
Employment authorization for your spouse
In addition, your spouse might be eligible to apply for what’s called an employment authorization document. If they get the employment authorization document, they’re eligible to work in a business that’s not related to your E2 visa business.
So they could, for example, work for a hospital or a bakery, or just any other business that’s not your particular E2 visa business. Or if they decide that they want to work in your business, they could do that to using the employment authorization document.
Don’t confuse the E2 with the EB5 visa
I want to make it clear that this is not the EB5 million dollar investor program that you may have heard about. That program requires $900,000 investment in a targeted employment area, or $1.8 million investment in an investment of your choosing. That program gets you a green card. This E2 visa program is for lower amounts of money and does not get the green card. However, it does let you keep extending your E2 status for as long as you have your E2 business.
I hope that’s helpful. If you need help filing your E2 visa application, you can feel free to contact us at (404) 593-0434, or clicking the “schedule a consultation online” button at the top of this page.
Thanks. And I will talk to you soon.