The E-2 visa allows foreign nationals whose home country has a trade treaty with the U.S. to come to the U.S. when investing capital in a U.S. business. Employees of the investor or of a qualifying organization may also be eligible for E-2 visas.
The requirements and application process for an E-2 visa depends on whether the candidate is currently living in the U.S. or not.
To qualify for an E-2 visa, an investor (either a person, partnership, or corporation) must:
- Have a valid visa if currently living in the U.S.
- Be a citizen of a treaty country. The U.S. Department of State maintains a current list of treaty countries.
- Have invested or is in the process of investing a “substantial amount of capital” in a legitimate enterprise or startup in the U.S. The investment must be subject to partial or total loss if the business fails. Loans secured with the assets of the business are not allowed.
- Develop and direct the business or an essential employee in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized and skilled position.
- Own at least 50% of the business or have direct control of the business.
- If a business, at least 50% of the owners must have citizenship of the treaty country.
- Build and direct the business, which should be able to generate more than enough income to provide a living for the investor and her/his family—or at least be able to do so within five years from the date the investor receives an E-2 visa.
To qualify for an E-2 visa as an employee of an investor, the candidate must:
- Be the same nationality as the employer. If the employer is an organization or company, it must be at least 50% owned by individuals who have the same nationality as the employee and have E-2 status.
- Meet the legal definition of an “employee” in the U.S.
- Have an executive or supervisory position with control over the operation or a major part of it or have special qualifications if not an executive or supervisor.
Application Process: Investors in the U.S.
An investor or employee should file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to request a change of status to E-2. An employer may also file Form I-129 on the investor’s behalf. The applicant must:
- Complete Form I-129 and pay the filing fee.
- Possess citizenship of a treaty country.
- Show the investor has at least a 50% ownership in the business or control of the business through a managerial, executive or other decision-making position.
- Show that the investor’s funds have not been obtained either directly or indirectly from criminal activity.
- Show the investor or employee candidate will have executive or supervisory responsibilities or has special qualifications.
- If employed by another individual, be the same nationality of the employer. If the employer is not an individual, the company or organization must be at least 50% owned by individuals who have the same nationality as the candidate.
- Provide evidence that investor candidate is developing and directing the business.
Application Process: Investors Outside the U.S.
Investors must apply for an E-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. The following steps may vary depending on location. Generally, the applicant must:
- Select the location where applying for the visa.
- Complete the online Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-160, which requires a photo of the candidate. The application confirmation page must be printed out.
- Visa candidates between the ages of 14 to 79 years must schedule a visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where they are applying for the visa. During the interview, a consular officer will determine whether the candidate is qualified to receive the E-2 visa.
- Pay the application fee before the visa interview. An additional visa issuance fee may be charged in some countries when the visa is approved.
- Complete the Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application Form DS-156E.
For the visa interview, candidates must bring:
- A passport that’s valid for travel to the U.S. and for at least six months beyond the time the candidate is expected to stay in the U.S.
- The Form DS-160 application confirmation page.
- The completed Form DS-156E.
- Application fee payment receipt.
If living in the U.S.: $460 USCIS filing fee
If living outside the U.S.: $205 filing fee (U.S. State Department) + possible visa issuance fee depending on U.S. Embassy or Consulate location
- File Forms:
- If living in the U.S., file Form I-129 to USCIS if living in the U.S.
- If living outside the U.S., file online Form DS-160 and Form DS-156E to U.S. State Department.
- If living outside of the U.S., have a visa interview.
- Initial petition up to 2 years.
- Unlimited extensions every 2 years.
You may not have immigrant intent.
At the airport, border, or other port of entry, you will need to satisfy the U.S. government officer that you have a residence in your home country and do not intend to abandon it. You must demonstrate that you are a nonimmigrant—that your visit to the U.S. will end after a specific amount of time.
Initial petition: 2 years
Extensions: unlimited 2-year extensions, but only as long as the conditions under which the visa was granted remain valid.
Note: E-2 visa holders who travel abroad may be granted automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the U.S. without filing a new petition.
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