Business Visa For The Entrepreneur
For individuals who are nationals of E2 treaty countries who are also able to make a substantial investment into a US enterprise, the E-2 nonimmigrant visa is a classification that may be considered. This entrepreneur visa can be issued to the investor or to certain employees of the investor’s qualifying business or organization for entry into the USA for the purposes of developing and operating the enterprise.
e2 vs EB5
The key difference between these two investor visa categories is that E2 visas are renewable temporary nonimmigrant visas, whereas the EB-5 program aims to provide investors with a permanent Green Card. For this reason, the capital investment requirement for EB5 is significantly higher than for E 2 and requires the creation of at least 10 US jobs. The E 2 visa, on the other hand, only allows the investor or qualified employee to enter the US for the purpose of developing and operating the US business into which the investment is made and is only available to individuals who are citizens of E2 treaty countries.
E1 vs E2
For both the E1 and E2 visa categories, the applicant must be a citizen of one of the treaty countries of the US. For E-2, the applicant must be the investor or qualified employee of a US enterprise, whereas the E1 visa is applicable for an individual trader or the qualified employee of a trading firm of one of the treaty countries. This trading firm or person must engage in substantial trade with the US, and more than 50% of its international trade must be between the treaty nation and the US. For both visas, a “qualified employee” is defined as being employed in a supervisory or executive capacity or possessing highly specialized skills.
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E2 Visa Requirements
Who Qualifies for the E-2 Visa
The main requirements for an E2 visa are that the applicant must be a national of an E2 treaty country and must invest in or be a qualified employee of a US enterprise.
For applicants who are investors, the investment must be at risk and substantial, as well as being sufficient for the successful operations of the enterprise. Applicants must have at least 50% ownership or possess operational control of the enterprise and show that the enterprise will generate significant income or have significant economic impact in the US. If approved, this investor visa will provide the applicant and dependent family members with entry into the US for the sole purpose of developing and directing the enterprise. An employee with the same nationality as the investor who is in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity of such an enterprise may also qualify for the E 2 visa.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Countries
A US treaty nation is a country with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Only citizens of treaty countries are eligible to apply for an E-2 visa. A list of current E-2 treaty countries is available here.
E2 Visa Investment Amount
The E2 investor visa requires a substantial amount of capital to be invested into a US enterprise; however, there is no precise investment amount indicated for an E2 visa. USCIS defines “a substantial amount of capital” as “substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one”, “sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise”, and “of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise. The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.”
E2 Visa Employee Qualifications
Employees who are applying for E2 visas must be nationals of the same E2 treaty country as the investor.
Executives and Supervisors: Employees in an executive or supervisory capacity are those who hold positions which give them decisive control and responsibility for the overall operations of a significant portion of the enterprise.
Specialized Skill Workers: Employees in a specialized skill capacity are not required to hold executive or supervisory positions but must possess specialized skills that are essential to the effective operations of the enterprise. These should be high-level, specialized skills that other employees do not have and should not be readily available in the US. The position should also offer a salary that validates the special qualifications required.
E2 Investor Visa for Families
Spouses and children under the age of 21 of treaty investors and employees can enter the US under the E 2 visa as dependents. Their nationalities may be different from that of the treaty investor or employee; however, they must also be nationals of an E2 treaty country. Spouses of applicants may file separately for authorization to work within the US without restriction.
E2 Visa to Green Card
For as long as their business operates successfully, E2 beneficiaries may continue to renew their visas indefinitely. However, some E 2 recipients may wish to change their visa status to permanent residency for various reasons. Unfortunately, there is no direct path from an E2 visa to a Green Card, which means that the beneficiary must seek other paths toward permanent residency. Some options may include investment through the EB-5 program or sponsorship by a US employer. For those with close relatives in the US, sponsorship through family based immigration programs may be considered and beneficiaries with very specialized skills may qualify for a Green Card as an EB1 worker of extraordinary ability.