1. What is E-2 treaty investor visa?
The E-2 treaty investor visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter into the U.S. and carry out investment and trade activities.
Note: Investment activities include purchase of a new business. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.
2. How do I qualify for E-2 visa?
To qualify for E-2 visa:
- You must be the national of the country that has an investor treaty with the U.S.
- You must be serving your company in a capacity that is supervisory or executive in nature or involves skills essential to the operation of the business (key employee); or you are a 50 per cent owner of the company
- Nationals of the treaty country own at least 50 per cent of the stock of the U.S. company i.e. the firm has the nationality of the treaty country
- You are investing or your company has invested substantial amount that is at risk, meaning subject to potential loss if the business does not succeed, in a bona fide enterprise in the U.S.
- The U.S. business will involve in active trade or rendering of services
- You intend to depart at the conclusion of your duties in the U.S.
3. What is a 'substantial investment'?
There is no set amount in the Regulations as what qualifies as substantial.An investment of at least $200,000 is considered substantial by most. However, it is not fixed and an Invest of much less can qualify, depending on the nature of the business. Ideally $200,000 would be the most appropriate figure.
Note 1: These figures are not the regulations of the USCIS, but they reflect our experience in these cases over the years.
Note 2: If the investment becomes equal or greater than $500,000, you may petition for permanent immigration status if you meet the required criteria.
4. What privileges do I enjoy on E-2 visa?
On E-2 visa, you may:
- Work legally in the company that is the investment vehicle in the U.S.
- Travel freely in and out of the U.S.
- Stay on a prolonged basis with unlimited two year extensions as long as you maintain E-2 qualifications
- Bring your dependents or accompanying relatives and your spouse may also work while in the U.S.
5. What are the limitations of E-2 visa?
- E-2 visas are available only to nationals of countries having investment treaties with the U.S.
- You are restricted to work only for the specific employer or self-owned business that acted as your E-2 visa sponsor
- E-2 visas are approved for two years at a time which makes the application/extension process cumbersome
6. How long can I stay in the US on investor visa?
You may stay on a prolonged basis with unlimited five year visa extensions or two year status extensions as long as you maintain E-2 qualifications. There is no limit on the number of extensions you can take.
7. How do I apply for extension of stay on E-2 visa?
To apply for E-2 extension you must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, along with E Supplement and submit Form I-539, Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status, for accompanying relatives. Along with it you must submit:
- Copy of your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure document
- Copy of original Form I-797, Notice of Action, if your status was previously approved or extended in the U.S. or
- Copy of your complete passport including the E-2 visa
- Letter from your employer stating that your extension is required and
- Copy of your personal and U.S. business income tax returns for the past two years, including payroll tax returns
Note: If you file for extension before the expiry of your I-94 you may continue working for 240 days while waiting for the decision. If you file after the expiry of the visa you may stay up to 40 days awaiting the decision. If there is no decision within the 40 days you are supposed to leave terminating your work in the U.S.
8. Can I revalidate my E-2 visa?
No, you may not apply for visa revalidation of your E-2 visa by mail without leaving the U.S.
9. Can I change status while on E-2 visa?
Yes, you may apply for change of status while on E-2 visa. You must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, or Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant status, indicating your change of status with appropriate supporting documents.
10. Are there any travel restrictions on E-2 investor visas?
No, there are no travel restrictions on E-2 visa. You may travel as many number of times as required before the expiry of your E-2 status. The USCIS also does not impose any time limit on your stay abroad.
11. Can I study on E-2 visa?
Yes, you may study on E-2 visa, however, you may not join a full length program like an F-1. You may take up a few credits at a university when they do not harm the primary interest of the visa.
12. Can I bring my dependents on E-2 visa?
Yes, you may bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age 21 years to stay along with you. They may stay in the U.S. as long as you maintain a valid E-2 status. You may also bring a domestic or personal servant on nonimmigrant status, provided you can show that:
- He or she is not abandoning their residence abroad
- He or she has worked for you for at least one year, or has had an ongoing employment relationship with you and has at least one year of experience as a servant
14. Can my dependents study on dependent E-2 status?
Yes, your dependents may attend U.S. schools, colleges and universities, and do not have to apply for separate student visa such as an F-1 visa.
15. How do I apply for E2 visa?
The following documents should be presented, when applying for an E-2 visa:
- Completed and signed Form DS-160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Completed and signed Form DS-156E, Treaty or Trader Investor Application
- Documents that establishing the nationality of your company
- A letter from your employer detailing your position and stating that you possess highly specialized skills essential for the efficient operation of the firm
- Evidence of investment in the U.S.
- Other documents relevant to the case such as marriage and birth certificates of you and your family members
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S and with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay
- Color passport style photograph (37 x 37mm) for each member listed in the visa application. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering
16. Where should I file my E-2 visa application?
- If you are in a lawful status in the U.S., submit the visa application to a USCIS Service Center in the U.S.
- If you are outside the U.S., submit the visa application to the U.S. consular office in your home country
17. What is the processing time for E2 visas?
The processing time for E-2 visas is generally between two and four weeks from the filing of the application, however, it may take longer in some Consular posts. This may vary depending upon the work load in the U.S. Consulate you choose to apply.
18. Can I apply for Green Card while on E-2 visa?
Yes, you may apply for Green Card while in the U.S. through the following options:
- Family Based Immigration: If you have close relatives who are U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents, the relatives may file an immigration petition for you as the beneficiary
- Employment Based Immigration (Labor Certification): You can attain immigrant status through employment-based immigration. You may find an employer who is willing to file a Labor Certificate for you with the DOL
- EB-1: You may also file an immigration petition based on the classification of ‘Alien of Extraordinary Ability’ – EB-1(A) or ‘Multinational Executive or Manager’ – EB-1(C)
- National Interest Waiver: You can also file an immigration petition through a National Interest Waiver (NIW). National Interest Waivers are available to foreign nationals who are seeking work in a profession and who have an advanced degree (or equivalent experience) or can prove themselves as ‘aliens of exceptional ability’, and who can show that their work will substantially benefit the U.S. interest.