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How to Successfully Get an E2 Visa

Individuals looking to start or invest in an existing business within the United States can apply for an E2 visa. This visa is applicable to members of over 78 countries that have signed trade treaties with the U.S. and can be renewed for as long as their business continues to operate within the country.

In this blog, we’ll look at ways to successfully secure this visa, including the application process, the requirements, the benefits, and the nationalities eligible for this visa.

What is an E2 Visa

The E2 visa is categorized as a non-immigrant visa and targets investors and entrepreneurs looking to operate within the United States.

Applicants must either purchase an existing company or set up a new one by investing capital and assets in the business’s name. No set minimum amount is required, but depending on the nature of the business, individuals must usually invest at least $50,000 or more into a domestic trading or services company.

Individuals who apply for this visa are not applicable for permanent residency or green cards but have the flexibility of renewing their visa indefinitely.

Required Qualifications

Only citizens of countries who have signed trade treaties with the United States are eligible to apply for an E2 visa.

Furthermore, the applicant must have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in the country and wants to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This means the applicant must show at least 50% ownership or possession of control through a managerial position.

Here, the term “substantial” doesn’t specify an amount but must be sufficient to ensure the investor’s financial commitment or be of a magnitude that supports the likelihood that the applicant will successfully develop and direct the enterprise in the U.S. If the cost of the enterprise is low, the investment must be proportionally higher.

The business must be an active, for-profit business and cannot be considered a “marginal” enterprise. The investment must also be committed to the E2 business and be “at-risk,” meaning it is subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails.

Successful applicants would also be required to file tax returns, maintain licenses, if applicable, and employee records, as any other business would.

The applicant is not just simply required to transfer the amount to a U.S. bank but must take steps like purchasing equipment and inventory or securing a lease. Applicants are not allowed to engage in employment outside of their business activity.

The U.S. also requires proof that the funds invested were gained lawfully. Furthermore, you must show intent to depart the country once your E2 status ends, usually done through a signed statement.

Benefits of E2 Visa

The E2 visa has many benefits for the applicant, the most obvious being that an individual can start and work for a business in the United States.

Apart from that:

  • The applicant’s spouse and children under 21 also qualify under the E2 visa. A spouse can apply to work in the U.S., while children can attend school.
  • There is no minimum amount that must be invested. Rather, the figure is considered dependent on the nature of the business.
  • There is no limit to the number of times the visa can be renewed.
  • You do not need to maintain a foreign residence.
  • The visa extends to company employees, provided they occupy executive positions, are essential to running the business, and are from the same country as the applicant.

Required Documents

Applicants may apply for an E2 visa from within the United States or their home country. If applying from within the U.S., individuals must fill out the I-129 form.

For those outside, the DS-160 form and DS-156E forms are required. Depending on the country in question, these forms could be submitted online or by mail.

More information on specific processes, including the fees, can be found on the respective U.S. Embassy websites. Several supporting documents could also be required. These include, but are not limited to:

  • A cover letter containing details about the business
  • Valid passport to prove your nationality
  • Evidence of source of funds, through either bank statements or tax receipts
  • Evidence of the investment, including receipts or statements
  • Share certificates, shareholders lists, and shareholders agreements
  • Business licenses, along with assets purchase agreements
  • Property leases or ownership title deeds
  • Employee lists, along with tax forms for the most recent year

The other documents could include tax returns, business plans, business websites or past U.S. visa stamps. Depending on the nature of operations, the employee status, and the applicant’s nationality, the supporting documents will vary, so each case will require its own research or the expertise of an immigration lawyer.

The Application Process

There are several steps to the application process, which, once again, vary depending on the applicant’s nationality. In most cases, however, applicants may follow this procedure:

  • Fill out the forms, and upload the required photographs
  • Pay the embassy fees
  • Print out the confirmation sheet
  • Schedule an interview with the consulate or embassy in question
  • Put together the supporting documents
  • Attend an interview where you will be asked questions about the nature of your business, details of the capital, your relationship with the enterprise, the number of employees you plan to hire, and the future of the company.

Once these steps are followed, the applicant has to wait for confirmation. This, once again, varies depending on the individual’s location.

For applicants within the U.S., the processing time could be up to five months. The average time for those applying from their home countries could be between two weeks to six months; however workload for consulates is also important factor. Within US, applicants can also apply for premium processing services for an extra fee, which could speed up the process to around 15 days.

It can be difficult to secure an E2 visa considering it requires a significant capital investment and several supporting documents to prove your business operations.

The good news is that the approval rates are quite high compared to other visas — at around 89%. The likelihood of rejection is low if all documents are in order and bona fide credentials are successfully proved.

Once accepted, applicants can receive a visa valid for up to five years, with the possibility of unlimited renewals.

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