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What is an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

If you have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative in the U.S., that relative may be able to sponsor you for permanent residence (green card) through the family-based process. However, if you do not have a relative in the U.S. that can sponsor you, you may still be able to obtain a visa to live and work legally in the United States. Sometimes, even if you have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative in the U.S., you may not be able immediately legally live and work in the U.S. due to extremely long visa availability wait times. Some individuals from countries like Mexico and the Philippines must sometimes wait 15 to 30 years for a visa to become available.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to invest in a business in the United States, you may qualify for an E-2 treaty investor visa. Treaty investors are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. However, there is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 visa may be granted.

Who Qualifies for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa?

An E-2 treaty investor visa is available for nationals of certain treaty countries with the United States. See U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries for a current list of countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

Once you have determined that the country you are a national of is a treat country, you must meet the following general requirements[note]Note these are a general requirements and not an exhaustive list. For a more detailed list of requirements see 8 CFR 214.(e)(2) and 9 FAM 402.9[/note]:
(1) You must have invested or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital,
(2) The investment must be for a bona fide enterprise in the United States,
(3) The investment is more than a marginal one solely for earning a living,
(4) You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise, and
(5) You intend to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of treaty investor status.

What Evidence Should be Submitted With an E-2 Visa Application?

Because the immigration laws and regulations do not provide a specific list of documents and evidence that need to be submitted to fulfill the requirements listed above, it is essential that you entrust your case with an experienced and reputable firm. Our firm has extensive experience with assisting all types of businesses and commercial enterprises with E-2 investor visas. We will carefully analyze your case and advise you as to what persuasive documentation should be submitted with your application.

There is no set amount as to what qualifies as a sufficient amount of investment. Generally, an investment refers to placing capital and/or other assets into a business with the intention of generating a profit. Keep in mind that the investment must be sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the business. To prove investment of a substantial amount of capital, consider obtaining documentation that shows where the funding/capital is coming from, and obtaining documents that demonstrate a long term commitment to this investment such as: long-term lease(s) of the business location(s), agreement for purchase of a business, bills of sales and/or contracts for equipment or goods purchased to be used for the business.

You should also make certain that you submit evidence that the business or enterprise you are investing in is a real, operating company that complies with state and federal laws. This can be shown by submitting business license/permits, proof of registration with the state in which the business is located, pictures of the business, proof of Employer Identification Number with the IRS, inventory and price lists, tax returns, financial statements, bank statements, utility bills, advertisements for the business, online presence, and any relevant contracts or customer/vendor agreements.

As stated above, the purpose of the investment is to generate a profit and not just for solely earning a living. In other words, the business must have the present or future capacity to provide significantly greater than a minimal living income for the treaty investor and his or her family. A well drafted business plan with accompanying financial documents and realistic financial projections are amongst some of the documents that should be submitted to fulfill this requirement. Also, consider submitting evidence that the business is also making a significant contribution to the U.S. economy.

You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct the enterprise. You must show that you play an essential role in the business and that you control or will control the enterprise. Normally such control is shown through documentation confirming at least 50 percent ownership of the company. Another tip is to also submit documents showing that the investor has sufficient experience to direct and develop the investment enterprise such as: resume of the investor, proof of awards relating to leadership and/or copies of degrees, licenses, and certificates relating to business administration.

Finally, you must provide evidence that you are willing and able to depart the United States upon the expiration or termination of the E-2 visa. Remember that although treaty investors are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years, there is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 visa may be granted. You can provide your intention to depart by presenting proof of any assets that will remain in your home country i.e. property, land, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and investments.

Other Advantages of an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

Some other positive aspects of an E-2 visa are that, this visa allows the spouse and children of the investor to accompany him or her in the same visa status. Additionally, spouses can work after receiving authorization from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services by filing a separate application. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work. Children may also attend school without any formal application or additional student visa.

When submitting your application, it is important to fully and clearly explain how the submitted evidence establishes eligibility for approval of your application. Because of our many years of experience and high success rate with these types of cases, our firm is confident that we can guide you and effectively represent you with filing an approvable E-2 treaty investor visa application.