The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is available to citizens of that have bilateral investment, commerce, and navigation treaties with the United States.1
In order to qualify for the visa,, the applicant must have made a substantial investment in a United States company. The visa allows the investor to come to the United States to develop and direct the business operations of that enterprise.
Alien investors who meet the following requirements may qualify for an E-2 visa:
The investor's home country maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation or bilateral investment with the United States;
The investor has made a substantial investment (typically $100,000 - $150,000 or more) in a U.S. business;
The business in which the investment was made is not less than 50 percent owned by citizens of the treaty country;
The investor intends to come to the United States to direct the operations of the enterprise in a capacity that is either executive, supervisory, or involves specialized skills; and
The investor possesses means of financial support independent of the enterprise.
The investor must intend to leave the United States once their visa status expires or is otherwise terminated.
It may benefit applicants for an E-2 visa to demonstrate that their investments will result in the creation of jobs within the United States.
In most cases, the qualifying investment will be made by the E-2 applicant. In some circumstances an E-2 visa may be issued to an employee of a foreign company that qualifies as a treaty investor, provided the employee comes the United States in an executive or supervisory capacity to direct the enterprise or possess a specialized skill required by the enterprise.
There is no fixed amount of investment necessary to qualify for an E-2 visa, although typical investments are in the amount of $100,000-$150,000 or more.
The investment must amount to not less than fifty percent ownership in an enterprise that generates active income. Active income is generated by the activities of a business or sales of services, as opposed to passive income, such as that generated from rental property.
An E-2 visa is initially issued for a two to five year period. The visa is renewable for an indefinite period of time in two year increments, as long as the visa holder continues in the same capacity with the business and the business is actively engaged in trade or services.
The spouse and unmarried minor children of an E-2 visa holder will also qualify for E-2 visas. These visas allow a dependent spouse and children to enter the United States, but do not automatically grant the spouse and children the right to work in the United States.
Although an E-2 visa is generally not considered to be a path to permanent residency, in some circumstances, the holder of an E-2 visa may qualify to apply for permanent residency in the United States.
In order to seek status as an immigrant investor, an applicant must file CIS Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur) with the USCIS. Once the Form I-526 is approved, an immigrant investors may obtain status as a conditional resident either by filing CIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) if residing within the United States, or by applying for an immigrant visa if residing abroad.
In order to become a lawful permanent resident, eligible investors must file a CIS Form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions) within 90 days before the second anniversary of an Alien Investor's admission to the United States as a conditional resident.
1. A list of qualifying nations is maintained by the U.S. Department of State.