Navigating the E-2 Visa: Your Comprehensive Guide to Treaty Investor Visas

The E-2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor visa, is a valuable immigration option for individuals seeking to invest in and oversee a business in the United States. In this guide, we walk you through the requirements of the E-2 visa, including investment thresholds, business ownership and control, and the application process for both treaty investors and employees of treaty investors.

Treaty Countries: People who hold citizenship in certain countries can get E-2 visas. Find out if your country qualifies by clicking here. 

Investment Thresholds:

  • Substantial Investment: What does this mean? It means that you need to have already–before you file for the visa–put in “enough” money to show that you are really invested in the business AND the substantial amount needs to be “substantial” as related to the type of business in which you are investing. You’ll have a business plan, and the “substantial” investment that you make will look substantial as related to the business plan. In short, there’s no magic number for the investment. We’ve seen approvals with as little as $50,000, but only when it makes sense for the business. 
  • Proportionality Test: As with substantiality, the investment must be proportional to the total cost of purchasing or establishing the business. Generally, the larger the business, the larger the investment required.

Scope of Business: You cannot open a business that just provides a living for you. You must show that your business or investment will generate income that provides for more than just you and your family. In short, your business plan must include employees.

Business Ownership and Control:

  • Ownership: E-2 visa applicants must demonstrate that they have invested, or are in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States. The investment must be at risk of loss and irrevocably committed to the business.This means that if you don’t get the visa, you may lose your investment. 
  • Control: Treaty investors must demonstrate that they have control over the enterprise, either through ownership of at least 50% of the business or through operational control and managerial authority.

Application Process:

  • Business Plan: Prepare a comprehensive business plan outlining the nature of the business, investment details, market analysis, financial projections, and job creation estimates.
  • Form DS-160 or Form I-129: File DS-160 if you’ll apply for your visa at a US Embassy or Consulate. File Form I-129 if you’ll apply within the US.  
  • Investment Documentation: Submit with Form I-129, or bring to the Embassy interview, proof that you have already invested money into the business. If you are creating a new business, include proof that you’ve legally started the business. Submit bank statements showing payments and transfer, business incorporation documents, lease agreements, job offer letters, proof of wages paid to employees, proof of services or products offered, and anything else that shows the business has started or is actually up and running. 
  • Schedule Visa Interview: If you are applying from outside the US, schedule a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. Be prepared to discuss your business plan, investment, and qualifications for the E-2 visa during the interview.

Employees of Treaty Investors:

  • Essential Employee: Employees of your business can get E-2 visas if they are essential to the operation of the business and possess specialized skills or knowledge essential to the enterprise’s success.
  • Same Nationality Requirement: E-2 employees must have the same nationality as you,  the treaty investor employer.

To Sum It Up!

Consider applying for an  E-2 visa if you’d like to invest in and manage a business in the United States. Contact us so that we can help you. We’re here to help you achieve your business goals in the United States and navigate the complexities of the E-2 visa program with confidence.