What is the E-2 Visa?
The E-2 Visa is a non-immigrant type of visa for citizens of treaty countries who wish to invest or start a business in the United States. With the E-2 Visa, based on the investment you will make, you can enter the United States and operate on your business. So if you wish to invest in and operate a United States business, the E-2 Visa is perfect for you.
The E-2 Visa is a type of visa that can give you access towards a life in the United States for you, your family, and your business. This article hopes to serve as a guide for readers towards exploring new business opportunities in the United States with the E-2 Visa. Similarly, this is your one stop place about the in and out of E-2 Visa. Above all, this is how you can go about your way towards a new life in the United States with the E-2 Visa.
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The world is full of limitless business opportunities. But oftentimes for many of us, these opportunities are out of our reach. We then find limits to our business potential in the countries we are in now. If you feel that your business has reached its limits wherever you are, maybe it is time to move on and find new places to grow.
“The E-2 Visa is an opportunity for you and your family.”
In an increasingly fast and globalized economy, more doors are opening, and once locked off business opportunities are now within arm’s reach. So if you’re a person who’s looking to invest in the United States and create new opportunities for you and your family, then perhaps this visa is for you.
Is an E-2 Visa a route to settle in the US?
The E-2 Visa is a type of investor visa which allows you to enter the United States based on investments you have made. What this means is that you will be managing your investment in the United States. The E-2 Visa is a great opportunity for people who wish to migrate to the United States and operate a business. Additionally, this type of visa is particularly perfect for those who already have a strong desire to start or acquire a business in the United States.
How long can I stay in the US on an E-2 Visa and how long does the E-2 Visa last for?
When you process your E-2 Visa while in the United States as a change of status, you are generally given a time period of two years. On the other hand, if you have processed it at a consulate, instead of just two years, you are generally given more time. Depending on which country you are coming from and their relationship with the United States, the E-2 Visa can be valid from up to five years. After that, you can have it extended indefinitely [for most of the countries, it is five years]. So mainly, if you are going for a Consular Application, the validity of your E-2 Visa would depend on which country you are coming from.
Am I allowed to study on an E-2 Visa?
Yes! You can study on an E-2 Visa as long as it does not conflict with the primary motivation for the visa. Above all, your primary motivation for the E-2 Visa is starting and expanding a business in the United States. So, the program you want to pursue should not be a full-length type on top of not harming the primary motivation for your E-2 Visa.
This means that you cannot join full-length or full-time programs unlike in an F-1 Visa. Consequently, this is because if you join a full-length program for study, the Immigration Officers will not have much faith in your drive and motivation towards pursuing your business. In the first place, you are in the country to grow and expand your business.
Are there any travel restrictions on the E-2 Visa?
There are no travel restrictions with the E-2 Visa. One of the benefits of having an E-2 Visa is that it doesn’t specify a limit on the time needed before returning to the United States should you go abroad. Additionally, if you are going abroad, you do not have to worry about securing another visa to get in and out. This is especially helpful for businessmen like you who need to attend to matters outside of the United States.
As a businessman, you may often find yourself in situations where you need to go out of the country. With the E-2 Visa, you do not have to go through the hassle of securing another visa. Likewise, you do not have to deal with the general restrictions when it comes to your travel.
E-2 Visa Countries:
Does my country qualify
for an E-2 Visa?
Trinidad and Tobago
E-2 Visa Advantages and Disadvantages
There are plenty of advantages to securing an E-2 Visa. However, with that comes a few disadvantages.
Your E-2 Visa's Advantages Explained:
1. You can migrate to the United States quicker.
One of the greatest advantages of the E-2 Visa is its processing time. Some visas in the United States take a number of years to process. However, with the E-2 Visa, it would only take a few months. With this, you can migrate to the United States more quickly. You can compare this to the more popular EB-5 Immigrant Visa for Investors. It can take a few years to approve the EB-5. So if you are looking for a quicker way to get to the United States, the E-2 Visa is your answer.
2. You have more control of your investments.
Another great aspect of the E-2 Visa is that it gives you greater control of your investment. With other visa programs such as the EB-5 Immigrant Visa, they require you to have your funding released as an investment by a third party. This means you might not be able to see your money again! Another thing with the EB-5 Immigrant Visa is that the minimum investment you are required takes around a million dollars. You can compare this with the E-2 Visa which allows your investment to be considerably smaller. How small you make your investment to be would depend on the nature of your business.
3. You can bring your family with you.
There is also no need to worry about your family if you migrate to the United States with an E-2 Visa. This is because your family is covered by the E-2 Visa as well. Your spouse and children below the age of 21 can accompany you and relocate with you to the United States. Additionally, your spouse can apply for a work authorization to get a job and your children can attend school in the United States. Should your children wish to go to a state college, they will be eligible for in-state tuition rates.
4. There are no restrictions to traveling.
Lastly and perhaps the biggest advantage to the E-2 Visa is that it gives you freedom and flexibility for travel. As a businessman, you will often find yourself in situations where you will need to travel outside the country. With an E-2 Visa, you do not need to worry about being restricted to travel. You can safely go in and out of the country for business or vacation as there is no need to secure another visa.
Your E-2 Visa's Disadvantages Explained:
1. You cannot have passive donations or investments.
The E-2 Visa requires you to work in the United States and have proof that you are actually doing so. This means that you cannot make a passive donation. You will really need to work for it. So if you are looking for passive investments, this visa might not be for you.
2. The E-2 Visa is a Non-Immigrant type of Visa.
The E-2 Visa is a Non-Immigrant type of visa. This means that you are relocating to the United States not as a citizen. So if you are looking to migrate to the United States and apply for citizenship there are extra steps you will need to take.
3. You will have to renew your E-2 Visa every few years.
An advantage to the E-2 Visa is it’s lower rates for the legal fees. However, this comes with a disadvantage because you will need to renew your visa every few years depending on which country you come from.
What happens if they reject my E-2 Visa?
"You can set up counter measures in the event that they deny your E-2 Visa."
The Immigration Officials should give you reasons in the event that they reject your application for an E-2 Visa. How well you conduct yourself during the interview and if you have withheld information are just some of the possible reasons for being denied your E-2 Visa.
Since you will be engaging in investments in the United States with an E-2 Visa, there is a lot of risk involved. There is a high risk with the investment and money you shell out in the instance that they do not approve your visa. To remedy this, there are measures you can take. For example if you are engaging in a lease, you can add a clause that does not oblige you under the terms of the agreement in the event that they reject your E-2 Visa.
Going from an E-2 Visa to a Green Card
How do I go from an E-2 Visa to Green Card?
An E-2 Visa does not lead directly to a Green Card. This is because it is temporary and it is a non-immigrant visa category. However, should you wish to apply for a Green Card it is possible. Below is how to go about just that.
There are two different ways on how you can go about converting your E-2 Visa to a Green Card.
1. Visa Processing
First is through a United States Consulate abroad where you can file for an immigrant visa. You can refer to this as Consular Processing or Visa Processing.
2. Adjustment of Status
Second is applying for an adjustment of status if you are in the United States in lawful status. Adjustment of status is changing your visa status from a non-immigrant visa status [E-2 Visa] to an immigrant visa status. Because the entire process for this is done in the United States, you do not have to leave the country if you are in the country in lawful status.
If you have an E-2 Visa, you will most likely rely on adjustment of status. It is important to understand that you have a non-immigrant status with your E-2 Visa so you will need to convert your E-2 Visa to an immigrant visa category.
The E-2 Visa and My Family
Family members and dependents of E-2 Visa holders:
It is very difficult to leave your family behind - to be miles away from the people you love. But with an E-2 Visa, you no longer have to worry about leaving your family behind. Because with the E-2 Visa, your family can accompany you to the United States, and miles after miles of ocean will not separate you.
"You can bring your dependents with you."
As there is no visa class for E-2 visa dependents, your spouse and unmarried children are allowed to receive derivative E-2 visas in order to accompany you. The duration of visas for your family members of a different nationality from you would be different. Reciprocal agreements between their country of nationality and the United States determines how long they can stay for. In the case that there exists no such reciprocal agreement, the duration of their visas will then be the same as yours.
Now that you know that you can bring your family with you to the United States on an E-2 Visa, it is important for you to know what is next? The following are some of the questions we’ve collated for you as a guide to plan out your's and your family’s future life in the United States.
Will they force my children to leave the United States when they turn 21 years of age?
Once your children reach 21 years of age, they will need to leave the United States or apply for their own visa. Fortunately, there are many ways around this.
1. Continuing with an F-1 Visa
One such way is if your child is studying in University. They can apply for the F-1 student Visa so that they may continue and finish their studies. The F Visas are a type of non-immigrant student Visa for those who wish to pursue their studies in the United States.
2. Another Option: Optional Practical Training
After having F-1 status for a year they may opt to apply for Optional Practical Training. This allows them one year to work in their chosen field of study. Additionally, if they get approved for Optional Practical Training, they can use the time to secure a visa as an employee from a United States based employer by applying for an H1B Visa or labor certification.
3. They can set up their own E-2 business.
Another option for your children to explore is to consider managing their own businesses, either by acquiring existing ones or starting an entirely new one. After which they may apply for their own E-2 visa.
Can my spouse and children work in the country while I’m on an E-2 Visa?
1. Can my spouse work under the E-2 Visa?
Your spouse can work in the United States once your E-2 Visa has been approved and you have arrived in the United States. To do so, they will have to present their Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) as part of the process to grant an authorization to work. United States Immigration Attorneys can also assist your spouse when applying for work authorization.
2. Can my children work under the E-2 Visa?
On the other hand, your children cannot apply for work while under a derivative E-2 Visa when they’re under the age of 21. Once they have reached 21 years of age, they are no longer your dependents under the E-2 Visa. That is to say, to stay in the United States they will need their own Visa. For instance, they opt for the F-1 Visa or the H1B Visa. They can then work in the United States given that they have the legitimate documentation and authorization.
Your Children's Education
1. Can my children attend school in the United States?
Before your children reach 21 years old, as E-2 Visa dependents, they can attend public or private schools and university. After that, if they choose to attend a state college, they are also eligible for in-state tuition rates.
2. How will I know what school to choose for my children?
The best school for your children would depend greatly on your children's unique physical, mental, psycho-social, and cultural needs. As a result, some schools may be better suited for your children than other schools. There is no formula in choosing the best school for your children, so what is of utmost importance is to give ample time into researching the schools in your area. Do not hesitate to call them and visit them if you have any inquiries. This is also important as it lets you know first-hand if they are the perfect fit for you and your child.
E-2 Visa Application
1. How do I apply for the E-2 Visa?
You should apply at your local United States Embassy or Consulate accredited to your place of permanent residence. Additionally, as a part of the application process, you are required for an interview at the embassy consular section. This is if you are within the age range of 14 through 79 years old. For your children who are 13 and younger, and you and your other dependents age 80 and above, the interview is typically no longer required. However, in some cases it is specifically requested by the embassy or consulate.
In the application process before the interview, an ink-free digital fingerprint scan is usually taken. However, some applicants need additional screening, should this be the case they will notify you upon application.
Furthermore, you should note that the application process varies from consular posts in different countries due to differences in policies and visa processing procedures.
2. How do you qualify for the E-2 Visa?
Your Application and Investment Requirements
Now that you know what the E-2 Visa is, what it means to you, your family, and your business, and if your country of origin is eligible for it, we can look into the vital requirements and documentation for you E-2 Visa application. To qualify for the E-2 Investment Visa there are six vital requirements.
Your E-2 Visa Requirements
The first requirement is that you will need to be a national of a treaty country. You will know if your Country Qualifies for an E-2 Visa with this guide. You can also find the list of countries that are eligible for the E-2 Visa in this section.
The second requirement is that you must have invested in the past or be in the process of investing. This is categorized into three requirements: showing legitimate possession and control of the funds, having all funds invested in “at-risk” status that are irrevocably committed, and lastly you must be close to starting your business.
The third requirement is that you must have the appropriate skill set to run and manage the business. Certainly, you will need the appropriate skill set in order to run and maintain your business successfully. This is also important in order for the United States government to have faith in investing in you. As a result, your educational background and work experience should suggest a lot about whether or not you have the right skill set to operate your business.
The fourth requirement is that the investment you make must be substantial. There is no clear definition of what substantial can mean for the United States government. However, all this means is that the investment you will make must be substantial in relation to the business you want to operate. For example, a service oriented business would need less capital than a manufacturing business. After all, the nature of the business would determine what qualifies as a substantial investment, it can range from $15,000 to more than a million dollars.
The fifth requirement is that the business put up must not be marginal. Marginal means it can only support you and your family. That is to say, the business must be profitable, and you should be able to hire more employees as the business progresses. This requirement is in place in order for the United States government to see the benefit of your business in boosting the economy. Having a business plan that addresses how exactly your business can help the economy, along with your initial projections, the number of employees you have hired and plan to hire can satisfy this requirement. Additionally, including your plan for growing the business in the future will help greatly for this fifth requirement.
The sixth requirement is that you must sign a document that states your intent to return to your home country once your visa expires. As a temporary business visa, the E-2 Visa is not a means to attain permanent settlement in the United States, though it is often extended as long as needed for your business and investments.
The required documents for the application of your E-2 Visa are as follows:
The first requirement is your completed Online Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application known as the Form DS-160
They will also look for the Non-Immigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application known as the DS-156E completed and signed. This is for executives, managers and/ or essential employees.
You will also need your passport valid for travel to the United States and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States. If you have family and dependents included in the passport, each person must complete their Form DS-160 application.
Do not forget your one 2-by-2-inch professional photograph.
As part of the visa application process, most applicants are required to have an interview at the embassy's consular section.
Most importantly, your comprehensive business plan showing that the business you will either buy or start can and will generate enough money to support you during your stay in the US along with all your dependents. This also means that the business cannot be marginal.
Another important document is your business registration for the United States business.
You will also need to bring your proof of wire transfer.
Your proof of source of income.
Lastly, your proof of intent to return to your country because the E-2 Visa does not allow dual intent.
What are the procedures for applying for the E-2 Visa?
Your E-2 Visa Application Process
There are two ways to go about acquiring an E-2 Visa. For instance, you can apply for an E-2 Visa while in the United States. This is also known as Change of Status. The other way is to apply at a consulate. Below is a comprehensive guide on what you should know regarding the processes.
1. Change of Status
If you are currently residing in the United States and would like to change your visa status to E-2 Visa, you can do so by filing a petition to change the status at the United States Citizen and Immigration Services. To do this process efficiently, you will need to prepare the necessary documents supporting those stated in the requirements. However, after being approved for changing one’s visa status, you can not permitted to leave and re-enter the country the way an E-2 Visa would allow you.
2. Consular Application
Another option for getting an E-2 Visa is through applying for it at a consulate. You can do this if you are outside the United States. You will need to submit the completed DS-160 form and supporting documents to the consulate. After submitting the necessary documentation, the consulate may ask for additional information. These documents are generally similar to what you might have previously provided if you were residing in the United States in the past. In short, after submission of the necessary documentation, the consulate will review the submission and contact you in for the interview.
Consular application vs change of status?
So, which is better?
If you are outside the United States applying for the E-2 Visa, you will have to do a consular application.
Often times, we recommend consular application over change of status because of several advantages. With a consular application, you are eligible for travel outside the United States. These means there are no restrictions with your travel and you will not need another type of visa to get in and out of the United States. You can compare this to a change of status which only grants you a period of two years and is not valid for travel outside the United States.
Of course, in some conditions, a change of status is more preferable than a consular application and this would all depend on your own unique circumstances.
Filing the E-2 Visa Application
Where do I apply for the E-2 Visa?
If you are outside of the United States, you will have to file for your E-2 Visa at a United States Consulate.
If you are already inside the United States, you will have to file for a change of status in the United States Citizen and Immigration Service.
How long does it take to get an E-2 Visa?
How long is the E-2 Visa application process?
The process for applying for an E-2 Visa can take up to three months. Depending on the United States Consulate, some applications take as early as two or three weeks. This is since the E-2 Visa is a very document intensive petition. In addition to the necessary government forms it requires you to submit a binder full of documentation which is oftentimes very lengthy. Processing time would depend on the consulate of your country’s origin and their workload.
How do I submit my E-2 Visa packet?
What documents do I submit to the U.S. Consulate for my E-2 Visa application?
Depending on your Consulate, required documentation may vary. However, generally you will need a detailed cover letter containing how you meet all the legal requirements and documentation, funding for your investment, and your business plan. This is further discussed in Application and Investment Requirements.
What happens after submitting my E-2 application to the U.S. Consulate?
After you have submitted your complete application for filing, they will call you in for an interview at the United States Consulate. On average, this would take six to twelve weeks upon receipt of your completed application packet. Additionally, the Consulate may also ask you to submit further evidence and documentation or bring it with you to the interview.
What will the interview be like and what should I say?
After you have submitted the necessary documents, the consulate will call you in for the interview. Like in any other interview, it is important to maintain a calm and professional appearance and demeanor. More importantly however, you must make sure that you know your business plan well. As the future owner of a business, you ought to portray yourself as the expert by pitching it to the Consulate with detail and ease.
Follow these tips for a successful interview:
Listen Carefully and Be Honest
First, it is essential to listen carefully to the questions asked so you can provide a brief and honest answer. Do not ramble and spend too much time on one question, be clear and concise with your answers. If you forget anything, do not be afraid to say you do not remember.
Your DS-160 is Important
You should also know your DS-160 Application well. This is the Nonimmigrant Visa Application form submitted online. The Consular Officers use the information in your DS-160 during the interview. They will ask you based on the information in your DS-160, and if you provide a different answer than what you wrote in the form, it is bound to raise suspicions which could lead to the denial of your visa.
Know Your Documents
You should also have a binder containing supporting documentation. Do not forget to bring this with you to the interview. Before the interview, study and review this binder well. Additionally, you should have a great understanding of the documents in the binder. So that, if the Consulate Officer asks you about certain information, you can point to the relevant binder section quickly.
Intent to Depart
Another requirement for the approval of your E-2 Visa is to submit a letter as evidence of your intent to return to your home country after your E-2 Visa expires. For extra certainty, you should also make sure to bring additional documentation to support the letter.
After all of these tips, the most important thing however is to just relax. If you have prepared well for the interview by following the previously mentioned tips, you should do fine in the interview. At the end of it all, remember: just relax!
What is the English language requirement for my interview?
E-2 Visa interviews are normally done in English. We advise that you take extensive English language courses before your interview. Of course you should give this enough time, cramming learning and bettering your English language is highly discouraged. Consequently, they deny some applications due to a lack of proficiency in the language.
How much does the E-2 Visa cost?
Generally fees for filing an E-2 Visa would not exceed $500. Additionally, legal fees cost around $5,000.
Do I need to be in the United States to start the process?
You do not have to be in the United States to start the process for filing your E-2 Visa. There are immigration law firms that provide remote service for your visa application.
Do I need to travel to the United States before the submission of my E-2 application?
You do not have to. However since you are considering starting or buying a business in the United States, you would want to see first hand where your investment will go. Likewise, visiting the United States is a great opportunity to research on the business you wish to start or acquire. It would help to talk to the business broker of the business that interests you so that you can be more prepared to handle the business once you have your visa approved.
Can I apply for an E-2 Visa in the United States?
If you wish to apply for the E-2 Visa while in the United States, you may do so via a change of status. In order to apply for a change of status, you will have to file the petition at the United States Citizen and Immigration Services.
Disadvantages of Change of Status
However, there are some disadvantages to the change of status. An example of its disadvantage is that it does not grant you the same freedom for traveling. Change of status will place some restrictions to your travel. As such you cannot leave and re-enter the United States the same way having an E-2 Visa would. In addition, the change of status is only valid for a period of two years. So in this regard, it is more advantageous to apply for the E-2 Visa at a United States Consulate.
Depending on your circumstances, a change of status may be more advantageous than applying for an E-2 Visa at a United States Consulate.
Applying for an E-2 Visa while under an ESTA
What is ESTA?
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or what is also known as the Visa Waiver Program is a simplified process to allow you an application for admission to the United States. To qualify for this you must be from the countries in the list below.
List of Countries that qualify for ESTA:
Advantage of Applying for an ESTA
There are advantages and disadvantages to applying for an ESTA. For instance, a great thing about ESTA is that the application process is quick. To apply, you can use a web interface for interview and they can grant your ESTA online. You can immediately enter the United States as there is no need to wait for a visa appointment. Once approved, it is valid for two years.
Disadvantage of Applying for an ESTA
However, the downside is that once in the United States, you can only stay for a maximum of 90 days. You should note that you cannot change or adjust status.
Can I set up my E-2 Visa and business while on ESTA?
Yes! If you enter the United States on ESTA or the Visa Waiver Program, they will admit you on either a B-1 or B-2 status. Additionally, if you indicate that you will be entering the country to work on your E-2 business, you will be admitted based on a B-1 status. This means that you have authorization to engage in business activities like preparing to set up your E-2 business. ESTA only limits your ability to change your status and only gives you a period of 90 days to stay in the United States.
Temporary Business Visa
You can obtain temporary business visas such as B-1 or B-2 visas at a United States Consulate. It allows foreign nationals to visit the United States for temporary business activities, tourism, or vacation. B-1 visas are specifically for business visitors, while B-2 visas are more general as tourist visas. Additionally, via the visa waiver program, you receive a limited type of B-1 or B-2 visa restricted in length of stay [up to 90 days] of which you are unable to change its status in your stay in the United States.
Authorized Work Activity Under ESTA
There is no universal definition of “authorized work activity,” but past immigration cases provide a good picture of what business activities are acceptable while on a B visa. As such, it is important for you to take a comprehensive review of all factors involved in your visit to the United States so as to prevent any anomalies.
With B-1 visas in particular, there are a number of questions you must first ask:
Is the principal business located abroad?
Are the profits received abroad?
What exactly is the purpose of the visit?
Do you intend to return to your home country?
How often, and over what period of time have you been in the United States?
Is the work you are performing in the United States secondary to your work being performed in another country?
The purpose of these questions at the end of the day is to assess whether a temporary visa such as the B-1 visa is fit for your needs. This is because United States border officials pay especially close attention to whether visitors using such visas are not exploiting it for purposes such as permanent settlement, among many others which violate its stated purpose as a temporary business visa. As such, ensuring that your trip is strictly calendared and specific to business purposes is important in order to not raise unnecessary suspicion over your visit.
Aside from considering these questions, other factors to consider are the actual activities you will engage in while in the United States while under ESTA. There are a multitude of activities permitted under a B-1 status or visa. We have included some, but not limited to, in this comprehensive guide. You can find examples of these activities below.
Authorized Activities Under an ESTA
You can carry out independent research for your business.
Another activity you can do is to survey investment and busines opportunities.
You can also interview candidates for employment and meet with your staff.
Additionally, you can explore lease prospects and enter into agreements.
Furthermore, you can attend meetings, conferences, and other events for your business.
You can also present your business and products at a trade show or expo.
At the end of all of this, what is important to remember is that you should optimize the 90 day period you are given to stay in the United States to further your business. Setting up a business is a hard and complicated job, therefore you should make the most of the 90 days you are given with your ESTA.
After the E-2 Visa is approved?
What happens after my E-2 Visa application is approved?
When your visa application is approved, the Consulate will either deliver your passport by courier service to your indicated home address. If you don't receive it by delivery they would inform you where and when to collect them. Generally you should be able to receive these within 3 to 5 business days after the interview. Once you have your passport, you are now allowed to enter the United States as an E2 investor. Your dependent family members should come together with you or after your arrival.
What do I have to do when I arrive in the United States after my E-2 Visa has been approved?
Upon arrival in the United States airport, Immigration Officers will review your passport. In most cases, they will ask you questions concerning your E2 business.
To avoid encountering problems upon your arrival, make sure that you have complete documentation. Do not forget to show the Immigration Officers see your E-2 visa page in your passport.
After checking your documentation, the Immigration Officers should admit your for the validity period of your passport. In most cases, the validity period is two years and you will not be admitted beyond the validity of your passport.
The I-94 document should be evidence of your length of admission. The I-94 can be obtained from the Customs and Border Protection website at: www.cbp.gov, this is helpful evidence of your authorization to stay in the United States.
Social Security Number and Individual Tax Identification Number
It is also advisable to apply for and secure a United States Social Security Number (SSN). This is not necessary to start off your E-2 business as you will be provided with a valid tax ID for your business. However, it is helpful to have a personal Social Security Number.
Your spouse is eligible for an SSN but not your children. In this regard, your children can apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN). This is necessary for the filing of tax returns and claiming them as your dependents with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
A driver’s license is a very important necessity. You should allocate time to arrange and process your driver’s license so that getting around is easier.
Finally, Your E-2 Business
E-2 Visa Renewal: How do I do it?
What are the criteria for my E-2 Visa to get renewed?
There are several criteria to be considered when renewing your E2 Visa. What’s most important is that they see you and your business to be benefiting the United States economy.
What are they looking for when renewing your E-2 Visa?
This can be broken down into the size of your company and how many employees you have, the salary your employees earn. Whether you are hiring full-time or part-time employees and whether you hire independent contractors are also looked into. Of course the profit you make is also a very important aspect.
What do I need to show in my application for E-2 Visa renewal?
There are several factors that the adjudicating officer looks at upon approving of the renewal of your E-2 Visa. These factors include, but are not limited to, whether your company is profitable, if it creates employment for United States workers, and if it is benefiting the United States economy.
When you are granted an E-2 Visa, it is generally valid for five years. After that period, it can be renewed with two-year extensions as long as you meet the criteria. To file for the extension of your E-2 Visa you will need to submit the following:
Requirements for E-2 Visa Renewal
First of all, you will need your Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker
Another document you will need is the Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Non-immigrant Status
Third is your copy of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure document
You will also need a copy of original Form I-797, Notice of Action (if status was previously extended or approved)
Do not forget your copy of passport and E-2 Visa
You will be needing an employer letter demonstrating why extension is required
Another requirement are your copies of personal and business tax returns (prior 2 years) plus payroll tax returns
You can contact an immigration law firm so that they can help you create a clear and successful strategy for the renewal of your E-2 Visa
When is the best time to apply for the extension?
You can be issued the I-94 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if you are an alien who is admitted to the United States. If you are adjusting status while in the country or extending your stay, you can be issued the I-94 as well.
It’s best to file for the extension of your E-2 Visa before the I-94 expires. If you do this, you are given 240 more days pending the decision for your extension. However if you file after the expiration of the I-94, you are only given 40 days to stay pending the decision.
How Can an E-2 Visa Lawyer Help?
Do I need a lawyer?
It would be helpful to contact an Immigration Law Firm or an Immigration Attorney. They can help you with preparing, completing, and filing the necessary application and supporting documentation.
Migrating to another country is a very demanding and complicated work. Therefore, having competent people to help would make it less difficult. E-2 Visas are very document heavy. You will need a lot of help to have the necessary documentation completed and ready. For this it is advisable to have Immigration lawyers and experts sort it out.
The Immigration Officials will also be looking at whether or not you meet the legal elements, having worked with a lawyer or expert would help greatly so that this can be achieved easier.
"Help is always appreciated."
E-2 Visa Business-centric FAQ
E-2 Visa business plan: Financial, Operational, Personnel and Marketing Strategy
Important business planning tips for Visa applicants
Perhaps the most important aspect you will need to look into when applying for an E-2 Visa is your business plan. Along with the other eligibility requirements, you are also required to submit a business plan. You need to get your business plan right since the Immigration Officers will be closely looking into it to find out if you are suited to have your E-2 Visa approved.
Your business plan should show, in detail, how your E-2 business will be successful. It should be able to outline how exactly the business intends to be operational and meet expected growth.
There is no single shoe-in format for creating your E-2 Visa Business Plan. However, here are some important reminders and pointers to consider when making your E-2 Visa Business Plan:
Your E-2 Visa Business Plan should show how exactly your business intends to grow within the period of your E-2 Visa. How your business will achieve success and profit. The profit should be enough to support you, your dependents, and employees. How it will create new jobs within your E-2 Visa’s duration should be included in your plan.
You should also include in your business plan how exactly you have control of your investment funds. This means that you will need to provide documentary evidence of your source of funds with a clear paper trail.
You should include in your business plan how your business can be operational from day 1 of being in the United States. Another important aspect to consider in your business plan is the management specifics.
The Immigration Officers will look into how your business will actually function in the United States. This means going into the details of the corporate structures. You are also required to produce evidence stating that you own at least 50% of the business.
You should also be able to show exactly how your business will be able to create jobs. This means that you will need to provide the roles and jobs your business will create and when they will be created.
How you will approach the marketing aspect of your E-2 business is also something the Immigration Officers will look into. Having detailed documentation of your plans for your budget and personnel requirements are essential.
Another thing to consider is to solidify the activities you will be pursuing in line with your business. These are, but not limited to tapping contacts, lining up meetings, and signing contracts and letters of intent. The more solid these are, the better for your case.
Skills and Experience
The final thing to consider in your business plan is your skills and experience. We mentioned how it is not a requirement to have owned a business prior to your E-2 Visa application.
It is however, advantageous to have your business related to your own set of skills and experience. An example would be if you have been working in the service industry for a good number of years, your business should be in the service industry as well. This shows that you have the necessary skill set to operate your E-2 business.
"Show them you can handle the business."
Can I get an E-2 Visa if I have not operated a business before?
In a lot of cases, those applying for the E-2 Visa are first-time business owners. Of course having relevant experience in the E-2 business would do well for the approval of your E-2 Visa application.
Depending on the business you are starting, say for example a publishing company, it would do well to have prior experience in the publishing industry. One such example of the experience they are looking for is actually having worked with or in the industry. It would also greatly help to have relevant business and managerial experience.
All of this information should be highlighted in the application. This will show that you can really build and expand the business you will operate.
At the end of the day having experience with E-2 business is a plus but it is not always required.
"It is helpful to have experience in the field."
How do you register an E-2 Company?
For you to register an E-2 Company you will need the same requirements as when you were applying for your E-2 Visa. This is, but not limited to, the investment itself, your source of funding, and your business plan.
Does an Investor have to be issued an E-2 Visa?
The E-2 Visa is generally for people who either want to start or buy a business in the United States. With this, there are questions arising regarding the Investor and how they will be treated with this visa. If you are applying for an E-2 Visa as an Investor, you will need to have a substantial amount of your own funds invested.
"The investor may not want a visa."
In some instances, the Investor of the E-2 business does not want a visa. There would be instances where the Investor is not interested in moving to the United States. With this situation, the Investor can invest their money in a business in the United States. After doing so they could opt to transfer their employees from the country of origin to the United States. To achieve this the person or employee coming from another country to the United States should meet the criteria for an E-2 employee and the company must also be “Registered”.
Can I operate a business without a Visa?
Can I operate an E-2 Business before the E-2 Visa is issued?
Do I need the E-2 Visa to operate my business?
The E-2 Visa is a wonderful option for people who are seeking to start or buy a business in the United States. In this regard, you will have a lot of issues and activities needed to be addressed before operating the business. So the question arises: Can you work on your business before the issuance of your E-2 Visa?
The short answer is yes.
Is a business plan required?
When applying for an E-2 Visa, the Consulate and Immigration Officers will look for a comprehensive and detailed five-year business plan. This business plan would show and highlight why and how the business you are planning to start or buy would be successful. It is important that you create a business plan that shows that your business would benefit the United States economy. This is a vital element that the immigration officials look for and consider when reviewing and approving your petition for the E-2 Visa.
So, a comprehensive business plan is necessary to make sure that you will have your E-2 Visa approved.
Is it better to create a business from scratch or to buy an existing E-2 Visa Business for sale?
There is no one answer as to which is better, either buying a business or starting one from scratch. This would all depend on your unique circumstances.
Depending on the type of business, it would be beneficial to start from scratch or to buy an existing business. For example, service oriented businesses and companies are harder to buy. If it were a shop, then you will have businesses available for you to buy. In most cases buying an existing business is more favorable than starting from scratch since you will already be generating profits. However, this is not always the case.
"Research, research, and more research."
The most important thing to remember is to research. Understand whether, with your circumstance, buying one or starting from scratch is more beneficial and achievable.
Can I operate my business from home?
A lease for a commercial premise that will accommodate your business is a very important document for the approval of your E-2 Visa. This is, after all, an evidence of how committed you are with your business. It is also evidence of the attainability of the business. In some cases, it might be unfavorable for you to opt to have a home office. This could harm the approval of your E-2 visa since this show the lack of guarantee of the success of your business. Having a home office, in some cases, implies a lack of a go-getter attitude. This might create an antagonistic scenario for your E-2 Visa’s approval.
For good measure, opting to lease a commercial premise for your business might be the better option.
What should be my E-2 Visa Investment Amount?
What is the E-2 Visa Minimum Investment Amount?
With an E-2 Visa, there is no required investment amount. As long as the investment you are making covers all the necessary business-related expenditure. These expenditure are, but not limited to, the employees' payroll, legal fees, lease, and your working capital.
100,000 vs 15,000 dollars
Some people say that you need a minimum of $100,000 as a requirement for the visa but this is not verified. In some cases, approval for the E-2 Visa has been obtained with just as little as $15,000 and a working capital of $35,000. This would all depend on the nature of the business you want to buy or start. Some businesses are more capital-intensive than others. Such an example is a manufacturing plant compared to a service-oriented business.
The nature of the business determines what qualifies as a substantial investment, it can range from $15,000 to more than a million dollars.
Can I borrow money to start my E-2 business?
Yes! The E-2 Visa allows for loans in investments and working capital as long as the business is not in a high level of debt. This is because highly leveraged companies carry with them a higher risk of the likelihood of bankruptcy.
Where can the E-2 investment come from?
You might be asking yourself, "Do E-2 investment funds have to come from my home country or can my E-2 investment come from money I made outside the US?"
The E-2 Visa requires you to make a considerable investment. This would depend on the type of business you are setting up, you can have the investment funds coming from your country of origin or anywhere at all given that the source is legitimate.
In some cases, you may already be working in the United States on a different visa, say an H1-B visa, and acquired the necessary funds for the investment. That could be used for the E-2 investment. In other cases, you may have received your funding through a loan from another country, in this situation you can use that loan for your E-2 investment.
Employing others under the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
Do I have to hire U.S. employees to get an E-2 Visa?
You will need to hire employees for your business to operate. If you do not do so, then that investment you make can be considered as marginal. This means that the business was set up only to support you and your family. To be continually approved for the E-2 Visa, you can't have a marginal business. One of the main requirements for the E-2 Visa is that your business should help the United States Economy.
However, you do not have to hire workers immediately, for this your business plan should include in detail when you plan to hire employees.
You can hire United States workers and workers from your home country.
There are no required number of United States workers you need to hire. Additionally, you can bring employees with you to the United States to work with. The E-2 Visa process can cover for the employees you want to bring with you to the United States. However, you should have the same nationality with the employees who you want to bring with you under the E-2 Visa. They should also be serving in a managerial or executive position in your company. Otherwise they could show special skills that make them essential and unique to the operation of your business.
What all of this means is that you should prove that there is legitimate reason for you to bring the employees with you, and that they have favorable skills not readily available to American workers.
General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Investor
To qualify as an employee of an E-2 Investor they must meet the following criteria:
They should be the same nationality as your employer, the E-2 Investor. Furthermore, this means that they should come from a treaty country. We have a list of treaty countries eligible for the E-2 Visa here.
Given that the prospective E-2 Employee is from a treaty country and with the same nationality as the E-2 Investor, the employee has two options to work for in the E-2 Business:
Executive and Supervisory
Employees from your country of origin can be employed in executive or supervisory roles. This means that their employment entails performing tasks that are supervisory and managerial in nature.
Aside from employing them under executive or supervisory roles, you can hire your desired people from your country of origin if they meet special qualifications. This means that they have special talents or skill set essential to your business, not found otherwise in hiring American citizens.
Does an investment in Real-Estate qualify for an E-2 Visa?
Can I buy a home and get an E-2 Visa?
Real-Estate is considered a passive investment and that is not allowed under an E-2 Visa. The E-2 Visa requires you to either buy an existing business or start one from scratch. It also requires you to actively work and invest in the business. This means that passive investments such as real-estate do not qualify.
Can my car be part of my E-2 investment?
Can I include a vehicle in my investment amount?
Since the approval of the E-2 Visa would depend greatly on the investment made and spent in the United States, some questions concerning whether certain types of expenditure can be considered as an investment.
Ask yourself: Do I need this for my E-2 business?
Depending on the nature of the business, you can include a vehicle in the E-2 Visa expense. If for example your business is a courier service, then spending your investment funds on trucks and vans can be considered as an E-2 visa expense. However, if this is the nature of your business, you might have a hard time including a luxury car as an E-2 Visa expense. After all, no one would think a Bugatti is a necessary expenditure to operate a courier business.
After all of this, the main point is to ask yourself whether the vehicle you plan on buying and investing in is directly beneficial to your business. Ask yourself if it is related to the nature of your business.
At the end of it all, the most important thing to consider is how the E-2 Visa will impact you and your family.