E-2 Visa (Treaty Investors)

For people from certain countries that have international treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S., they may enter the U.S. as a “treaty investor” to live and conduct business for an indefinite period of time. To qualify under this nonimmigrant E-2 visa category, the alien must have invested or is investing a substantial amount of capital in an enterprise in the U.S. As far as the invested enterprise exists and is qualified under the E-2 test, the alien investor would be allowed to stay in the U.S.
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To be classified as an E-2 treaty investor, the alien must be from a country which has a qualified treaty with the U.S. In other words, this treaty must be able to confer treaty visa eligibility.

Substantial Investment

Second, the investor must show that he has either made a substantial investment or is actively in the process of making a substantial investment in the enterprise. There is no statutory minimum for the requirement of “substantial” investment. However, the investment must be substantially proportional to the total cost of an established business or the total cost of establishing a new business.

According to our experience, the invested amount varies from business to business. For a business in service field like accounting firm or law firm, the investment amount can be as low as $40,000.00 and the applicant can still obtain the E-2 approval since the investment for such business is mostly in human resources, rather than in properties. For business like restaurant, $70,000 or above is ordinarily acceptable to the INS. If the alien invests over $100,000.00 in the enterprise, the investment is generally qualified for E-2 status. However, again, there is no specific standard set in the immigration rules. Our professionals, nevertheless, will provide you a generally reliable guideline in evaluating your investment in the U.S.

Control in Invested Enterprise

Third, the investor must have a controlling interest in the enterprise. In another word, the investor must have at least 50 percent of shareholding in the enterprise.

It is noteworthy that the immigration rules do not provide limitation on the entity type of the invested enterprise. The investor can freely choose among the corporate entities allowed in the state he wishes to invest.

Investment More Than Marginal

Fourth, the enterprise for which investment is made must be more than “marginal”. This vague standard can be met by showing that the investment will return more than just enough income to provide living for the treaty investor and his family. As such, if the alien’s invested business will only generate a few thousand dollars of income, the business will have problem meeting the qualification for E-2 application.

Alternatively, the treaty investor may show that the investment will create more jobs locally or that the return from the newly created business or expanded business will have a significant impact on the local economy.

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An initial two-year period of stay is granted to E-2 visa holders. As above stated, extension can be made almost indefinitely as far as the invested business exists. Besides, even though the initial application is made for one invested enterprise, the E-2 applicant can change his business in later days. Needless to say, the new business has to meet the E-2 standard too.
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Employees of treaty trader can also be classified as E-2 if the employee is or will be working in executive, managerial, or supervisory capacity, or if the employee will render essential services to the operation of the enterprise. To qualify, the employee must have the nationality of the treaty country, and must intend to depart the U.S. upon expiration of the principal alien’s E-2 status. However, the employee is not required to have worked for the enterprise previously. It is therefore possible for one invested enterprise to sponsor more than one family of E-2s.

In addition, family members of E-2 are entitled to the same E-2 classification. Furthermore, it is not required that the spouse or child of E-2 must have the nationality of the treaty country. Spouse and children do not have authorization to work in the U.S.

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Nationals from the following countries can apply for E-2 status and visa:

Country Classification Effective Date
Albania E-2 January 4, 1998
Argentina E-2 October 20, 1994
Armenia E-2 March 29, 1996
Australia E-2 December 27, 1991
Austria E-2 May 27, 1931
Azerbaijan E-2 August 2, 2001
Bahrain E-2 May 30, 2001
Bangladesh E-2 July 25, 1989
Belgium E-2 October 3, 1963
Bolivia E-2 June 6, 2001
Bosnia and Herzegovina 11 E-2 November 15, 1882
Bulgaria E-2 June 2, 1994
Cameroon E-2 April 6, 1989
Canada E-2 January 1, 1993
Chile E-2 January 1, 2004
China (Taiwan) 1 E-2 November 30, 1948
Colombia E-2 June 10, 1848
Congo (Brazzaville) E-2 August 13, 1994
Congo (Kinshasa) E-2 July 28, 1989
Costa Rica E-2 May 26, 1852
Croatia 11 E-2 November 15, 1882
Czech Republic 2 E-2 January 1, 1993
Denmark E-2 December 10, 2008
Ecuador E-2 May 11, 1997
Egypt E-2 June 27, 1992
Estonia E-2 February 16, 1997
Ethiopia E-2 October 8, 1953
Finland E-2 December 1, 1992
France 4 E-2 December 21, 1960
Georgia E-2 August 17, 1997
Germany E-2 July 14, 1956
Grenada E-2 March 3, 1989
Honduras E-2 July 19, 1928
Iran E-2 June 16, 1957
Ireland E-2 November 18, 1992
Italy E-2 July 26, 1949
Jamaica E-2 March 7, 1997
Japan 5 E-2 October 30, 1953
Jordan E-2 December 17, 2001
Kazakhstan E-2 January 12, 1994
Korea (South) E-2 November 7, 1957
Kosovo 11 E-2 November 15, 1882
Kyrgyzstan E-2 January 12, 1994
Latvia E-2 December 26, 1996
Liberia E-2 November 21, 1939
Lithuania E-2 November 22, 2001
Luxembourg E-2 March 28, 1963
Macedonia, the FormerYugoslav Republic of (FRY) E-2 November 15, 1882
Mexico E-2 January 1, 1994
Moldova E-2 November 25, 1994
Mongolia E-2 January 1, 1997
Montenegro 11 E-2 November 15, 1882
Morocco E-2 May 29, 1991
Netherlands 6 E-2 December 5, 1957
Norway 7 E-2 January 18, 1928
Oman E-2 June 11, 1960
Pakistan E-2 February 12, 1961
Panama E-2 May 30, 1991
Paraguay E-2 March 07, 1860
Philippines E-2 September 6, 1955
Poland E-2 August 6, 1994
Romania E-2 January 15, 1994
Serbia 11 E-2 November 15,1882
Senegal E-2 October 25, 1990
Singapore E-2 January 1, 2004
Slovak Republic 2 E-2 January 1, 1993
Slovenia 11 E-2 November 15, 1882
Spain 8 E-2 April 14, 1903
Sri Lanka E-2 May 1, 1993
Suriname 9 E-2 February 10, 1963
Sweden E-2 February 20, 1992
Switzerland E-2 November 08, 1855
Thailand E-2 June 8, 1968
Togo E-2 February 5, 1967
Trinidad & Tobago E-2 December 26, 1996
Tunisia E-2 February 7, 1993
Turkey E-2 May 18, 1990
Ukraine E-2 November 16, 1996
United Kingdom 10 E-2 July 03, 1815
Yugoslavia 11 E-2 November 15, 1882

Country Specific Footnotes

1.      China (Taiwan) – Pursuant to Section 6 of the Taiwan Relations Act, (TRA) Public Law 96-8, 93 Stat, 14, and Executive Order 12143, 44 F.R. 37191, this agreement which was concluded with the Taiwan authorities prior to January 01, 1979, is administered on a nongovernmental basis by the American Institute in Taiwan, a nonprofit District of Columbia corporation, and constitutes neither recognition of the Taiwan authorities nor the continuation of any official relationship with Taiwan.

2.      Czech Repubilc and Slovak Republic – The Treaty with the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic entered into force on December 19, 1992; entered into force for the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic as separate states on January 01, 1993.

3.      Denmark – The Treaty which entered into force on July 30, 1961, does not apply to Greenland.

4.      France – The Treaty which entered into force on December 21, 1960, applies to the departments of Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Reunion.

5.      Japan – The Treaty which entered into force on October 30, 1953, was made applicable to the Bonin Islands on June 26, 1968, and to the Ryukyu Islands on May 15, 1972.

6.      Netherlands – The Treaty which entered into force on December 05, 1957, is applicable to Aruba and Netherlands Antilles.

7.      Norway – The Treaty which entered into force on September 13, 1932, does not apply to Svalbard (Spitzbergen and certain lesser islands).

8.      Spain – The Treaty which entered into force on April 14, 1903, is applicable to all territories.

9.      Suriname – The Treaty with the Netherlands which entered into force December 05, 1957, was made applicable to Suriname on February 10, 1963.

10.  United Kingdom – The Convention which entered into force on July 03, 1815, applies only to British territory in Europe (the British Isles (except the Republic of Ireland), the Channel Islands and Gibraltar) and to “inhabitants” of such territory. This term, as used in the Convention, means “one who resides actually and permanently in a given place, and has his domicile there.” Also, in order to qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty, the alien must be a national of the United Kingdom. Individuals having the nationality of members of the Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom do not qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty.

11.  Yugoslavia – The U.S. view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) has dissolved and that the successors that formerly made up the SFRY – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia continue to be bound by the treaty in force with the SFRY and the time of dissolution.

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If the alien is in the U.S., the E-2 application can be filed to the Service Center of INS that has jurisdiction over the invested enterprise. The alien can obtain change of status upon receiving the approval. Or the investor can choose to go to the selected U.S. embassy in Mexico or Canada for visa application directly. If the alien investor is in his home country, then he can go to the U.S. consulate in his country with all documents for E-2 visa application. The document required for E-2 application is extensive. The applicant must be ready to explain about the nature of the business and investment.
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From July 2001 a “Premium Process Program” is implemented for speeding processing of certain non-immigrant employment-based applications. Under this program, if the applicant is willing to pay an additional $1,225.00 “premium” to the INS, the INS will process the application within 15 days after its receipt of the application. The applicant will receive either an approval or a Request for Additional Evidence within 15 days after INS receives the application. If the application is eventually rejected, the INS will refund the paid premium.

Currently, this program applies to visa types like H-1, L-1, E-2, and O-1 applications. Certainly, for those who need to obtain the status within a short period of time, it has provided a very convenient route.

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Unfortunately, the status of E-2 itself does not lead to permanent residency. Hence, no matter how long the alien is in the status, he will not become a permanent resident just by being in this status. In other words, the alien will have to go through other path, either family-based or employment-based immigration, to obtain permanent residency. For route to permanent residency, please refer to other section of our site.
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Over the years, Lin & Valdez has applied and obtained approval for countless number of E2 cases. The E2 investment our clients made for the applications are in a wide range of businesses. The following is a list of approved E2 visa businesses we have applied for our E2 investor visa clients:

  • Art Gallery
  • Beauty Salon
  • Bridal Service
  • Camera Shop
  • Computer Company
  • Convenience Store
  • Doughnut Shop
  • Day Care
  • Franchise Store
  • Gas Station
  • Golf Store
  • Granite and Stone Business/Construction Material
  • Gymnasium
  • Hotel/Motel
  • HVAC Service Company
  • Law Office
  • Professional Service
  • Restaurant
  • Shabu House (Japanese Style Hot Pot Restaurant)
  • Shoe Store
  • Supermarket
  • Trading Company

What E2 business you will be interested and invest? Let us help you.

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