The E2 visa, also known as the treaty investor visa, is a non-immigrant visa type that allows an individual to enter and work in the United States. The visa is given to an individual having a substantial investment in a U.S. business. The term “substantial” here means at least $100,000 in a startup, business, or franchise. Only the citizens of certain countries are allowed to avail of the visa.
In this article, we will go over all the details and answer a few commonly asked questions about the E2 Investors visa, USA.
Table of contents:
- What is an E2 investors visa?
- What are the countries that qualify for an E2 visa?
- What criteria are followed by the USCIS to determine eligibility?
- Documentation required for the British nationals and others
- What is the procedure to apply
- What is the validity of E2
- Application criteria for family members of an E2 visa holder
What is an E-2 investors visa?
The E-2 nonimmigrant visa allows a national of a treaty country to enter the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain non-investor employees of the same nationality as the investor holding an executive or supervisory position may also be eligible for the classification.
What are the countries that qualify for E-2 Visas?
As per USCIS guidelines, E-2 investors visa USA can only be availed by a national of a treaty country. A Treaty country here means any nation which maintains a treaty of commerce or is in an international agreement with the United States. Here is a list of all the countries eligible to apply for an E-2 visa:
What criteria are followed by the USCIS to determine eligibility?
The USCIS generally uses an “Inverted Sliding scale” to determine the substantiality of the investment. Typically, startups are required to have a sizable amount of investment to start and operate a business. Although there’s no official minimum or maximum investment amount set up by the U.S. government, applications for investments of less than $150,000 are more likely to be rejected. If the investment is not enough to capitalize on the entire venture, USCIS will not consider it. Furthermore, ownership of the investor is also checked in the business, and ownership of less than 50% is generally not entertained.
Many E-2 visa investors prefer to buy a franchise or a business for sale in the U.S. as the interview process gets effortless in that case. The proven business model, as opposed to risky startups, sounds more credible to the investigating officers.
In short, these are the basic qualifications criterion for an E-2 visa:
- National of a treaty country
- Active investment in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S.
- Entering with the sole purpose of developing the enterprise. Treating E-2 investment as a side project will not be accepted.
Documentation required for the British nationals and others
The UK came under the E2 treaty Visa scheme with the US in 1815. For UK citizens, it is necessary to show residency in the UK to get a visa. It may get complicated for people living abroad however, there are a few means by which a British investor can show residence in the UK:
- By showing ownership of a home in the UK
- Payslips of UK
- UK tax returns
- Any other connections with the UK
- Investments made by UK based business
In addition, every applicant is required to pay a nonrefundable $205 visa application fee, and some countries are required to pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee.
Here is a general list of documents required for an E-2 investors visa in the US:
- DS-160 Form, which is an Online non-immigrant visa electronic application form.
- A completed and signed non-immigrant treaty investor application DS-156E
- A valid passport
- A 2X2 inch photograph
- An interview at the embassy’s consular section
- A credible business model showing the potential to generate enough money for the sustenance of the applicant’s stay in the US.
- Proof of source of income of the applicant
- Proof of intent to return to your country as an E-2 visa doesn’t allow dual intent.
The application process:
All the E-2 petitions generally go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and they’re required to give an interview as part of the application process. You can either apply while you are in the US or outside of the country. The application process for both are:
a). Applying while you’re already in the US
Legal immigrants can apply directly to the USCIS via form I-129, a petition for the non-immigrant worker. On average, this type of application takes around five months to process, but the period might vary depending on your case.
On approval, the USCIS will provide you with a Form I-797.
The fee for filing form I-129 is $460.
- b). Applying while you’re outside of the US
Many people apply for E-2 Visa by this method. After applying, the US consulates living abroad will review your application and set up an interview with you. In case of approval, you will get your E-2 visa in a week, but the process depends upon the consulate. Some consulates take two weeks, while others take up to four weeks.
These are the steps you will need to follow if you’re living outside of the US and applying for the E-2 Visa:
- Filling out the DS-160 form: You will be required to fill out the DS-160 Form online and provide all the related details with your motive for going to the US. After completion, a confirmation page and code will be generated. You will need them with you for the interview.
- Paying the application fees: The application fee for filling out the form is $205. Countries with various regulations at the embassy might charge a little extra. Keep your payment receipts safe for future references.
- Scheduling your interview: After the completion of the first two steps, you will need to set up your interview. You will be provided with a visa appointment letter after the scheduling that you will need when you go to the interview. As a next step, make sure your documents are completed.
- Show up for the interview: On the scheduled date, the US consulate will interview for your E-2 Visa application. After the interview, the Consulate will process your application.
What is the Validity of an E-2 Visa?
After the approval of your visa, it will be valid for anywhere between three months to five years, depending on your home country. It can also be extended indefinitely in some cases.
Application criteria for family members of an E2 visa holder
One major advantage of the E-2 visa is that spouses and dependents of the principal visa holder can also apply and are normally granted the same period of stay in the US. Furthermore, the spouses and dependents need not be of the same nationality as the principal applicant.
The spouse can work, but it is advisable to apply for work authorization beforehand. Children under the age of 21 however, cannot work but are permitted to continue their studies.
With an E-2 investors visa, you will be able to work legally in the U.S. and take your spouse and children (under 21) with you for the entire tenure. Moreover, USCIS does not put any stay requirements or travel restrictions on E-2 visa holders.