E-2 Investor Visa
The E-2 investor visa is a long-term, renewable work visa granted to business investors from countries that have signed a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. The duration of the visa is determined by the terms of the treaty between the U.S. and investor’s country of citizenship.
The investor should form a U.S. company, which will operate the business that the investor will purchase or establish, and which will act as the investor’s visa sponsor. Both the U.S. business and the individual investor, or employee, must qualify for E-2 visa status.
Essential E-2 investor visa qualification requirements:
A person or persons with citizenship of a country having a qualifying investment treaty with the U.S. must own at least 50% of the shares of the U.S. Company; such person or persons may not have permanent resident status or reside in the U.S. under a visa other than the E-2 visa.
The investment must be substantial and must be made with personal funds (or with a loan secured by property that belongs to the investor personally). While the regulations do not state a specific minimum investment, the investment must be sufficient to establish a profitable business with development and expansion potential.
The company must contribute to the local economy to an extent that is more than marginal, i.e., the investor cannot invest solely for the purpose of earning a living. Beyond paying the investor a living salary, the business must employ U.S. workers and produce a profit.
Applicants must show that they have work experience and credentials that qualify them to perform the job that the company is offering them, and the investor must intend to enter the U.S. solely in order to manage and direct the business.
It is also important to remember that the U.S. company must continue to qualify the investor for visa renewals, and thus it is not sufficient to acquire a business that may qualify you for a first-time visa, but will not have the development potential that will enable the investor to qualify for subsequent visa renewals.
It is important to know that early mistakes in the immigration process generally have major, often devastating, long-term consequences. Comprehensive legal advice, which clearly addresses and analyses your medium- and/or long-term immigration goals, is an indispensable first step in view of strategizing your immigration goals.
Additional E-2 investor visa-related information:
The spouse of an E-2 visa holder may obtain a work authorization to work for any employer in any type of job.
The business activity of the investment company can be changed or expanded into new fields of business.
Presently, there is no limit to the number of times an E-2 visa can be renewed, as long as the business continues to qualify.
The E-2 visa is generally applied for at the U.S. consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. E-2 visas are issued for the period of time permitted under the treaty with that country. If the applicant is in the U.S. in valid status, he/she may also apply for a change to E-2 status with USCIS, but, the status is lost when the applicant travels outside the U.S. and he/she must re-enter with a visa.
- E-1 Trader Visa
Business people who conduct a substantial volume of trade in goods or services with the U.S. can potentially qualify for the E-1 trader visa. It is available to citizens from countries that have signed a treaty with the U.S. regulating trade and commerce. Boththe business and the individual must qualify for the visa.
To qualify, the business must:
- engage in international trade (import or export) between the U.S. and the treaty country homeland. This trade may be in either goods or services, and must already exist at the time the visa is applied for. The trade may consist of either buying or selling, and the products or services may be going to or coming from the U.S.;
- conduct a substantial volume of trade between the U.S. and the treaty country homeland. The business must show that the value of the trade is substantial and that the trade is conducted in regular transactions in the course of a year;
- conduct at least 50% of its international trade between the U.S. and the treaty country.
- To qualify, the applicant must:
- show that he/she has work experience and credentials that qualify him/her to actively operate the business.
The E-1 visa is generally applied for at the U.S. consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. E-1 visas are issued for the period of time permitted under the treaty with that country. If the applicant is in the U.S. in valid status, he/she may also apply for a change to E-1 status with USCIS, but, the status is lost when the applicant travels outside the U.S. and he/she must re-enter with a visa.
Additional advantages of the E-1 visa:
- The spouse of an E-1 visa holder can obtain a work authorization, and work for any employer in any type of job.
- The E-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that can be renewed as long as the business qualifies.
Note : The potential E-1 trader visa applicant should form a U.S. company and begin to set up his/her U.S. business under the terms of the visa waiver or the B-1 business visa. The business should be actively operating, and regular transactions must already take place prior to the submission of the E-1 visa application. While setting up the U.S. business, the trader may engage in negotiations, hire personnel, sign contracts, etc., but he/she is not authorized to direct business activities, supervise employees, or to receive a salary from the U.S. company.