E2 Visa: The Complete Guide
Are you an investor or business owner who needs to cut down on the time and money lost while traveling to the U.S.? Are you wasting too much time and money through all the complicated U.S. immigration processes? We might have the answer for you.
Getting an E2 visa may be the solution to your immigration-related problems. It will reduce the paperwork and administration load required for your travels to the U.S. and may even save you a few dollars as well.
What is an E2 Visa?
Have you heard of an E2 visa? An E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa which grants the beneficiary (possibly you) the right to live and work in the U.S. This visa is valid for two years at a time and you can renew it as long as you still keep to the requirements and obligations as set out by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
The E2 visa, or also known as a treaty investor visa, is only reserved for entrepreneurs who are citizens of countries who have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S. We’ll explain this in a little more detail below.
Who is Eligible for an E2 Visa?
There are two categories of prerequisites someone needs to fulfill before they are eligible for an E2 visa. Let’s have a look.
Eligible Treaty Countries
The U.S. has treaty agreements with different countries all over the world. These treaties help facilitate and increase trade between the relevant countries which have the agreement with the U.S. An E2 visa is one of the tools used to increase trade and efficiencies between the various countries and the U.S. People from treaty countries with substantial investments in the U.S. may apply for the visa to help ease their immigration processes.
So, only citizens from countries that have an E2 qualifying treaty with the U.S. are eligible for the visa.
To be eligible for an E2 visa, you must also hold a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise within the U.S. This Enterprise must be a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial endeavor which produces products or services for profit.
Here is a shortened list of the investment related requirements as set out by the USCIS:
- The investment must be substantial – Your investment in the business must be enough to finance the day to day operations for a while. The amount considered to be substantial depends on the size of the business, but it is generally required to be at least more than $100,000.
- You are in control of the funds – The USCIS wants to know that you have some skin in the game. You won’t qualify if you can just leave the business without any loss incurred on your part. According to the USCIS they require you to own not less than 50% of the business or at least operational control through a managerial position.
- The investment is in a real operating enterprise – The investment is in a business that offers a product or service. A simple real estate investment does not comply with the requirements. A large amount of money in a U.S. bank account also doesn’t count.
- The investment may not be marginal – The business has a present and future potential to generate income to provide more than just a minimal living for the investor and their immediate relatives.
- The investor comes to the U.S. to lead and develop the enterprise – You travel to the U.S. with the specific purpose to develop the business. You must also hold an executive position or highly specialized skills required by the business.
You’ll need to prove that you are eligible by producing evidence of your eligibility. The following may serve as evidence that you hold a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise within the U.S.:
- Tax returns
- Financial statements
- Business organizational chart
- Business licenses
- Lease agreements
- Contracts or vendor agreements
- Quarterly wage reports
- Notice of assignment of your Employer Identification Number (from the Internal Revenue Service)
Remember, your situation and/or business is unique. You may have to produce more or different documents to prove you are eligible. You can always ask the expert advice of an immigration attorney if you are unsure how to convince the USCIS of your case.
Documents Required for an E2 Visa
In addition to the above list of documents you’ll need to prove eligibility as a treaty investor you’ll also need the following documents in your application for the visa:
- Valid passport
- The actual application form (Form DS-160 when filing online)
- Travel itinerary
- All of your Form I-94 records (arrival and departure records of previous visits to the U.S.)
- Most recent resume or CV
All of the above-mentioned documents are needed throughout the application process. Please note, a consular officer may request more information when you apply at a U.S. consulate or embassy. Provide all additional information required by the officer in charge of your case.
How to Apply for an E2 Visa
Here is how you can apply for an E2 visa online.
Apply – Form DS-160
Apply online by completing a Form DS-160 application for an E2 visa and pay the application fee. Attach all the required documentation as set out by the USCIS. The USCIS will notify you with a non-immigrant visa application confirmation form (notice of receipt) once they have received your application. Print and keep a copy of this notice to produce at a later stage.
The USCIS will inform you about your visa interview date and venue. Attend the interview at the designated consulate or embassy and bring along a copy of your application, your notice of receipt, and any and all evidence that proves your eligibility for an E2 visa. Remember you basically need to convince the officer at your interview that you are eligible for this visa.
You need to go to a second appointment called a biometric screening. They’ll take your fingerprints and other types of information regarding a possible criminal record. This costs $85 (if applicable).
Wait for the USCIS to make their final decision about your E2 visa. Pay any outstanding fees to get your visa issued. They may either deliver it to your home address in your country of residence or you’ll be required to collect it at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
How Much Does an E2 Visa Cost?
The E2 visa fee is $205. You may also need to pay an issuance fee at the consulate or embassy where you collect your E2 visa. This issuance fee depends on the office where you collect the visa. Also remember the biometric screening test fee of $85 (if applicable). If these fees seems hefty and your tight on cash flow (since all your money is invested in your business) you can always consider a loan for E2 visa holders.
E2 Visa Processing Time?
Each case will differ in processing time. You can, however, expect to wait anything between a few weeks to a few months. Some cases may take longer to satisfy the requirements set out by the consular officer.
You can always consider premium processing to get a faster decision regarding your E2 visa application at an extra cost. It will decrease the waiting time to 15 calendar days. But remember, it doesn’t increase your chances of success.
E2 Visa Frequently Asked Questions
You aren’t the only one with questions about an E2 visa. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about E2 visas.
Are Employees of E2 Visa Holders Eligible?
Employees of an E2 visa holder can also be eligible for an E2 visa. You’ll need to prove that you are essential to the main E2 visa holder for reasons pertaining to the enterprise in question.
Can I Change My Current Visa Status to E2?
People already in the U.S. are allowed to apply for an E2 visa status change. They’ll need to follow the visa status change procedure and prove their eligibility.
May My Immediate Relatives Accompany Me?
Your spouse and your dependents under the age of 21 may apply for the visas for immediate relatives of E2 visa holders.
Why Do I Need to Prove The Origin of My Money?
The U.S. government basically wants to confirm that you aren’t involved in any illegal activities. They would like to see proof of the origin of the money you invested in your U.S. enterprise.
Is A Business Plan Required?
A business plan is not an official requirement, but the USCIS would like to see how you plan to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation. A comprehensive business plan will help to detail this.
Are you an active foreign investor or executive level leader in a U.S. enterprise? Do you want to save time, effort, and possibly money by reducing your immigration administration load? Apply for your E2 visa today and become a treaty investor.