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E1 & E2 Status (Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors)
The Treaty Trader (E-1) or Treaty Investor (E-2) visa is for a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation who is coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, principally between the U.S. and the treaty country, or to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the national has invested, or is in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital, under the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. See bellow a list of participating Treaty Countries eligible for Treaty
Investor (E-2) visa.
Treaty Investor Requirements:
- Treaty investor applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify for a treaty investor (E-2) visa under immigration law. The consular officer will determine whether a treaty investor applicant qualifies for a visa.
- The investor, either a real or corporate person, must be a national of a treaty country.
- The investment must be substantial. It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise. Speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
- The investment may not be marginal. It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S.
- The investor must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk in the commercial sense. Loans secured with the assets of the investment enterprise are not allowed.
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise. If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.
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What is E-2 Visa?
The Treaty Investor Visa , E-2 visa, permits citizens of certain countries ( listed below) to reside and work in the United States through an investment.
What other options are available for foreign citizens to receive work visa in the U.S.?
E-2 treaty investor visa is an excellent option for clients who would like to purchase business or invest into the existing business in the U.S.
What countries maintain treaties with the United States for E2 Visa purposes?
The E-2 is based on country of citizenship ( not on country of birth).
Currently, citizens of the following countries are eligible to apply for E-2 visa:
Countries Eligible for Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Korea (South)
- Slovak Republic
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad and
- United Kingdom
Investors whose countries do not have an investment treaty with the United States could obtain a U.S. E-2 visa indirectly, using the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program as an interim step.
How much I must invest to be eligible for E-2?
While some investments of less than $100,000 have been approved by the USCIS, I generally suggest investing at least $100,000 – $200,000.
Can I create a new company or I have to purchase an existing business to be eligible for E-2?
The E-2 Visa can be obtained by either purchasing an existing business or creating a new business in the United States. I advise my clients that buying an existing business has many benefits, including the opportunity to purchase a business with a proven financial track record. An established business often makes a stronger E-2 application, as there typically is objective evidence in the form of tax records and financial statements that the applicant can submit in support of E-2 Visa. However, each case scenario is different, and as I said, depending on the type of business, establishing a new company will qualify for E-2 Visa.
Do I have to be a 100% owner of the investment company?
The E-2 visa does require that the investor own at least 50% of the business in which he/she invests.
Can I buy a house or other real estate property in the U.S. and get an E-2 Visa?
No. The business must be an “active” business. Passive investments like real-estate or investments into stock market does not qualify for E-2. I should mention however that I have a client who invested into real estate management company and received E-2 visa.
What happens if I purchase the business, pay money and my E-2 visa for some reason is denied?
E-2 regulation allows you to place funds into the escrow account- trust account of a bank, closing agent or attorney who is instructed to release the funds to the seller of the business only when your E-2 visa is approved.
Can my family also come with me to the U.S.?
Yes, your spouse may also obtain an E-2 visa and a work permit. Children under 21 may also receive E-2 visas, but upon turning 21 must depart the U.S. or change status, usually to a temporary student visa. E-2 allows children to go to public school, private school or university, often with in-state tuition. It is a visa that allows the spouse to work anywhere that he or she wishes in the U.S.
How long can I stay on E-2 Visa?
E-2 it is the longest-term visa and, in many ways, the most advantageous visa to the U.S. It is a visa that can be renewed with two-year extensions as long as you maintain business in the U.S. As it stands, there are no limits on the number of extensions you can take.
Can I apply for green card after receiving E-2 Visa?
E2 visas are considered non-immigrant visas. However, once an investor is able to qualify and enter into the U.S. in this category, these are some ways to eventually become a U.S. permanent resident. For example, you could find an employer that could sponsor you, or perhaps your spouse, for a green card through one of the employment-based (EB) preference categories.
Please review our Green Card Through Employment page.
Or you may consider to invest more money into your business and get an EB-5 green card, or you could invest $500,000 into an EB-5 regional center project and be a passive investor there, while continuing to operate your own E-2 visa business as well.
What is the difference between E-2 and EB-5 investment visa?
E-2 Visa is often confused with EB-5 investment Visa. Each visa attempts to facilitate foreign investment in the US, but each does so in a different way. In short, the main difference is that an E-2 is a non-immigrant (temporary) visa for investors from treaty countries, while an EB-5 is an immigrant (permanent) visa. That is one reason why the investment requirement for the EB-5 is much higher. EB-5 requires an investment of at least $500,000 or $1,000,000 (depending on where the business is located) and creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers ( see our page related to EB-5 visa requirements). At the same time, the rule of thumb for E-2 investor’s business is to employ 3-5 people, however by regulation, no specific number of jobs are required for E-2 business. In addition, timing is also different in obtaining E-2 Visa. While times vary, E-2 visas are usually issued by American consulates and can be processed in as little as six weeks. EB-5 proceedings on the other hand on average take about 20 months to reach conditional resident approval. Finally, I would like to mention that E2 visa holders do not have to live in the US any particular amount of time and may arrange their affairs so they are not subject to world-wide taxation.
How your law firm can help in obtaining E-2 visa?
Applying for an E2 visa is a complex process. As with any visa application there is no replacement for practical experience when filing E-2 visa case. Our immigration attorneys can assist you with every step of the process, including creating or acquiring ownership in a company and ensuring that all of the required documents are properly collected and sent with the application. In addition, we can assist you in planning a long-term immigration strategy if you will later decide to convert your E-2 Visa into EB-5 Visa.
Lana Kats, Esq.
Attorney At Law