E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Overview of the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Category

The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa, available to nationals of countries with which the United States has a treaty of commerce, investment, and navigation. Individuals in E-2 status are those who made a substantial investment in the U.S. company and wish to come to the United States to develop and direct the business operations of that company. Certain employees of such a person or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for this visa.

Countries That Have Necessary Treaties With the United States.

Several of the countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation or bilateral investment treaty are:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Taiwan, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

For a more detailed list of eligible countries, please see the U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries.

How Quickly Can the Individual Obtain This Visa?

The whole process from the time of submission of documents to the consulate until getting a visa in your passport may take as little as two to three weeks.

Who Uses the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

This visa is used by companies and individuals. Most often, this visa is used by real estate investors and by persons who wants to buy a franchise or a small business in the United States.

Eligibility for the E-2 Visa

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 with the United States. You can find a current list of eligible countries at the U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries website.
  • The person has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in the U.S. business. There is no minimum amount required in order for the investment to be considered substantial (as little as $50,000 may be sufficient and even less than $50,000 investment has been approved, but any investment below $100,000 would need a very strong case to support it.)
  • The business in which the investment was made is not less than 50% owned by citizens of the treaty country. Note here that foreign nationals who are also U.S. permanent residents cannot be counted toward determining at least 50% ownership.
  • The investor intends to come to the U.S. to direct the operations of the company, either as the investor who will develop and direct the investment, or as a qualified manager / executive / supervisor, or specially trained and highly qualified employee necessary for the development of the investment.
  • The investor possesses means of support independent of the enterprise.
  • The investment should result in the creation of jobs for U.S. workers (should be at least 3-4 workers, but there is no requirement for any particular number).
  • The business must have a present or future capacity to generate “more than enough income” to provide a minimal living for the investor and his or her family (if not initially, then at least within the five-year period).

Do I Need a Lawyer to Obtain a Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa?

Many individuals successfully obtain a visa on their own. However, obtaining this visa can be a long and complicated process. To make this process easier and faster, it is often beneficial to use services of a qualified immigration attorney. If you need legal assistance, please contact our lawyer in Orange County, California.

What Are Some of the Advantages of an E-2 Business Visa?

  • This visa category may be used by different types of companies, from a small company owned by a single investor to a large multinational corporation.
  • The Treaty Investor (E-2) visa can be used for purposes of overseeing investment in the United States.
  • This visa can be used by a company’s principals or by its employees, as long as they are performing functions in accordance with the applicable rules.
  • The treaty alien can extend his or her stay in the U.S. almost indefinitely. Many individuals in E status have been in this country 10 years or more.

Does It Matter How I Got the Money Which I Now Want to Invest?

Yes. The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.

Application Process

It is possible to apply for E-2 status exclusively through a U.S. consulate abroad. The person seeking to get E-2 visa does not need to petition USCIS in order to obtain E status, unless the person is already in the USA in some other nonimmigrant category. If you are already in the USA, you may either file a change of status application with USCIS or you may leave the country to obtain an E-2 visa at a U.S. consulate and reenter the U.S. as an E treaty investor. The procedures for obtaining such visa at the U.S. consulate abroad vary by country.

Change of Status to the E-2 Category

If you are already in the U.S. in another nonimmigrant status (such as B-1 business visitor, for example) and you want to apply for the E-2 status without leaving the United States, you can file a change of status application with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Who May File for Change of Status to E-2 Category?

If the person who qualifies for this status is currently in the U.S. in a lawful nonimmigrant status, the individual may file Form I-129 with all required documentation to request a change of status to E-2. An employer may also file this form on behalf of the employee if the desired employee is in the United States in a lawful nonimmigrant status.

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Newport Beach, CA 92660

Phone: (818) 744-4955 Fax: (949) 326-0075

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