What Is the E-2 Visa Program?

The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work in the United States based on the investment he or she will be controlling while inside the United States. This visa must generally be renewed every two years, but there is no limit to how many times one can renew. The investor must be a citizen of a “treaty country.” A treaty country is a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation or a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The investor may start a new business or invest in an existing one. The investment must be “substantial” although that term is not defined.

Who Is Eligible to Participate in the E-2 Visa Program?

In addition to the investor, other visa recipients may include the investor’s spouse and minor, unmarried children. In addition, E-2 visas are also available to non-investor employees of the business as long as they are of the same nationality as the investor and are destined for a role in the U.S. business that is either executive/supervisory or requires specialized skills that are essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise.

What Are the E-2 Visa Requirements?

In addition to being a citizen of a treaty country, there are several other important requirements that individual investors must meet in order to qualify. For example:

  • A Bona Fide Enterprise: According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), a business which an E-2 investor applicant wishes to acquire or start must be a bona fide enterprise. The immigration authorities define bona fide enterprise as “a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.  The enterprise cannot be an idle investment held for potential appreciation in value, such as undeveloped land or stocks held by an investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise.”

  • Marginal Enterprise: Another requirement for an E-2 visa is that the business will not be “marginal.” USCIS defines a marginal enterprise as not being large enough to generate enough income for the investor to support a minimal living “for you and your family or to make a significant economic contribution.” In other words, you need to be able to support yourself and your family from the business. You must demonstrate that your business is non-marginal through your detailed business plan, tax returns, financial statements, or payroll summaries.

  • Irrevocable Commitment: USCIS also requires that “the capital you invest is irrevocably committed to the enterprise and subject to partial or total loss in the event that the entity fails. The funds you invest must also be your own.”

  • Substantial Investment: USCIS continues: “Additionally, the invested funds must be substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the type of enterprise you are considering.”