Given To Foreign Nationals Who Want To Invest

This visa is given to foreign nationals who are looking to invest in the US and oversee that investment. The best way to describe the E-2 Investment Visa is through a series of questions.

1. How long can I stay on the E-2 visa? You will be granted an initial period of two years to come to the United States, however, this may be renewed and extended almost indefinitely.

2. Can my family members join me through the E-2 visa? Yes. Your spouse can remain in the US for the duration of the visa, and after applying, will be able to work in the US. "Minor" children can also join you in the US through this visa. However, they are no longer eligible to remain in the US under your E-2 visa once they reach the age of 21 or get married.

3. Do all citizens of all countries qualify for the E-2 visa program? No. Only certain countries have treaties with the US that enable participation in the E-2 program. Countries with E-2 treaty status include Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Colombia, and Pakistan, among others.

4. Do I have to invest in a particular kind business to get an E-2 visa? You can invest in whatever kind of business you like.

5. What criteria will the USCIS use to evaluate our application for my E-2 visa? There are numerous factors the USCIS will use to evaluate your E-2 visa application. Among others the USCIS will analyze: (A) whether your investment in the business is "active"; (B) whether your investment is "substantial," (C) whether your business will create jobs for US workers; and (D) whether you will fulfill a key role in the company. In a bit more detail:

A. Your investment must be "Active". The USCIS will want to make sure that your investment is in a real operating enterprise that produces some type of service or commodity — in other words, an "active" business. For example, buying undeveloped land and then hiring architects and local builders would qualify as an "active" investment; as well as would a shopping mall and having your company manage the tenants. However, merely buying and holding undeveloped land, or buying securities in a business and not developing it yourself, would be examples of "inactive" investments.
B. Your investment must be "Substantial". The USCIS will want to make sure that you have made a "substantial" investment in the business. There is no minimum dollar amount necessary for the investment to be considered to be "substantial." Indeed, investments of as little as $50,000 have been deemed "substantial" for E-2 visa purposes. The real test—if you are purchasing an existing business — is that your investment must be of a high proportion to the value of the actual enterprise. Similarly, if you are starting a new business — the investment must cover a high proportion of the start-up costs. Once again, there is no "brightline" minimum dollar investment amount, but the following is a good "rule of thumb:"
Total value of business or cost to start new business Minimum percentage of investment required
Less than $500,000 75%
$500,000 to $3,000,000 50%
More than $3,000,000 30%
Additionally, in determining whether your investment is "substantial" the USCIS will only count the portions of your investment for which you are personally at risk. For example, taking out a mortgage on a property you own would count; however, taking out a mortgage on property owned by a business would not.
C. Your Investment should create jobs for US workers. Here the key is that the USCIS needs to see that your investment in a US business is not "marginal." In other words, your investment must not only create or purchase a business that will provide a minimal living to you and your family. Rather, the business must be profitable.
D. You must develop and direct the enterprise. This is accomplished by assuming a managerial role.

6. Can I just purchase part of a business? Yes. However, the USCIS will want to make sure that you are the "principal investor" responsible for the development and direction of that business. For example, you should purchase a majority interest in the shares of an enterprise and you should retain a high degree of managerial control.

Under some circumstances, however, it will not be possible to qualify for an E-2, investment visa. For example, when a treaty does not exist between the U.S. and home country. In such cases, another method is through the L-1 visa category.

The information above is provided by Shahzad Ahmed, Esq.