Main Article: Immigration
Main Article: Non-Immigrant visa types
The E-2 visa is referred to as an “investor visa.” This is because it allows an individual to enter and work in the United States based on a substantial investment they are controlling. Substantial means that the investment is large enough to finance the venture. For new startups, the investment must be large enough to launch and operate the business. This visa must be renewed every 5 years, however there is no limit to how many times the visa can be renewed.
E-2 holders must return to their country of origin upon the conclusion of business, or change their status. They may leave the United States at any time.
Spouses and unwed children under the age of 21 may receive derivative E-2 visas in order to accompany the primarily E-2 visa holder.
E-2 visas are only available to treaty countries, including:
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic,, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia.
To qualify for E-2 classification, the treaty investor must:
- Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States
- Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
A substantial amount of capital is defined as:
- Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
- Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
- Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.
There is a different process for filing for a E-2 visa depending on whether or not the investor is located inside or outside the United States.
Inside the United States: If the treaty investor is currently in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status, they may file Form I-129 to request a change of status to E-2 classification. An employer may also file this form on the employee's behalf.
Outside the United States: A request for E-2 classification may not be made on Form I-129 if the person being filed for is physically outside of the United States. Instead, the investor should follow the following steps:
- Complete the Online Visa Application, Form DS-160.
- Print the application form confirmation page and bring it to your interview.
- Photo - you will upload a photo while completing the Form DS-160. Your photo must be in the format explained in the Photograph Requirements.