An E-2 visa to the United States allows you to stay in the United States and conduct business. We have answered the most frequently asked questions about this type of business visa to the USA.
Conditions and Requirements
1. Is an E-2 visa an immigration visa?
No. The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant type of visa.
2. Where to apply for the E-2 visa program?
The E-2 visa application is usually submitted to the US Consulate in the applicant’s country of citizenship or residence. Alternatively, you can apply for a US status change with USCIS.
3. Do I need to be in the United States to start the E-2 process?
No. You can conduct the entire process remotely using a certified agent.
4. What is the main requirement for an E-2 investor?
The main requirement is that an agreement must exist between the United States and the applicant’s country of citizenship.
5. For how long is the E-2 visa issued?
The term depends on the agreement between the countries – from 3 months (for example, Egypt) to 5 years (for example, Grenada).
A complete list of countries that have an agreement with the United States and the duration of the visa for them is described below.
6. How long does it take to apply for an E-2 visa?
While in the US, 2.5 – 5 months. An expedited review is possible in 15 days upon payment of an additional state fee of $1,440. While in your home country, from 14 days to 4 months, depending on the time frame set by the US Consulate in your country.
7. What requirements must an applicant fulfill to obtain a visa?
- Citizenship of a country with which the United States has a trade agreement for E-2 visas
- A significant investment of personal funds in a commercial enterprise on the territory of the United States
- The minimum investment threshold is not specified by law ($100,000 + depending on the country of residence and average income in the country)
- The investment must be made from the investor’s funds, which were obtained by legal means (legal source of funds)
- The business must have the potential to generate significant income (before the expiration of 5 years) and/or bring economic benefits to the United States (e.g. job creation).
- The investor will personally lead and manage the development of the business
- The investor intends to leave the United States after the expiration of the E-2 visa
Passive investments are not included in the conditions for obtaining this type of visa.
8. Which is better: create a business from scratch or buy an existing one?
This will depend on the type of activity you intend to do. If it is a service company, then buying an existing business will be a rather difficult task, whereas, for example, if it is a store, it will be easier to organize it. Buying an existing business is preferable in most cases, as the company will generally continue to be profitable even after the expiration of the E-2 visa.
9. Is joint ownership of the company permitted?
Yes. Joint ventures are permitted. To qualify for an E-2 visa you must own a controlling stake and be able to make binding decisions (at least 50% of the company must be owned by the applicant). You must show that you will “develop and control” the joint venture.
To get advice on the E-2 visa – contact us
10. Do I need to hire staff with an E-2 visa?
This will depend on your type of activity. Perhaps your company is very small and you don’t need employees. However, your company will need to hire employees to show that it benefits the US economy. This is an important factor that immigration officials take into account when applying for an E-2 visa extension.
11. What type of business is worth investing in?
Most businesses are eligible to participate. But investing in real estate or stock does not qualify you for an E-2 visa. All other types of commercial businesses are accepted.
12. Does an E-2 visa lead to a Green Card?
An E-2 visa does not lead to a green card, but this option is available on an EB-5 immigration visa. This is a passive investment from $900 thousand with a retention period of 5-6 years, which leads to obtaining a green card and US citizenship.
To learn more about the EB-5 immigrant visa in the United States, fill out the feedback form
13. Does the applicant become a US tax resident immediately after obtaining a visa? If there is a business in other countries, will he have to pay US tax?
As a rule, it doesn’t happen automatically. It all depends on the number of days spent in the United States. It is recommended to consult a tax attorney.
14. Are there requirements for education, work experience, age, language skills?
No. However, the pre-visa interview is in English.
15. Do I need to get my driver’s license again?
You should arrange to take a written and driving test so that you have a valid US driver’s license. Some countries have reciprocity with some US states that waive test requirements.
The process of obtaining an E-2 visa
1. Do I need to travel to the United States before submitting an E-2 application?
No. However, you might want to think about whether you are comfortable buying a business without visiting the country. A local expert can send you detailed information on any business that interests you, and you can put together a shortlist of businesses you would like to learn more about. Once you have compiled the list, you can come to the United States on a 90-day ESTA (Visa Waiver) or a 180-day B1/B2 visa. Both methods allow you to explore potential businesses to buy and sign an asset purchase agreement, but they prevent you from working until you get E-2 visa approval.
2. What happens after the E-2 application is submitted to the US Consulate?
After you or your licensed agent submit the application package, you will be invited for an interview with USCIS. Processing time depends on the consulate. On average, the interview should happen 6 to 12 weeks from the date they receive your application. The consulate may contact your agent and ask for additional evidence/documents at the interview.
3. What level of English is required for the E-2 interview?
The interview is conducted in English. It is possible to take an intensive English course before starting the E-2 visa process. This will help you not only in your interview for an E-2 visa but also to run your business successfully.
4. What happens after my E2 visa application is approved?
Once your visa application has been approved, the consulate will deliver your documents by courier service to your home address or let you know when and where you can collect them. In most cases, you should receive them within 3-5 business days after your interview. Then you can travel to the United States to be accepted as an E-2 investor.
5. What do I need to do when I arrive in the United States after my visa has been approved?
When you arrive at an airport in the United States, an immigration officer will check your passport and may ask you questions regarding your E-2 visa business. Then the immigration officer must approve you for two years. Your period of admission is confirmed by the I-94 document. Form I-94 can be found on the Customs and Border Protection website at www.cbp.gov and is additional evidence of your authorization to remain in the United States. Print the document and keep it with you, as this certificate is often requested by government agencies as proof of your actual status.
6. When do I need to get a Social Security number?
You can also apply for a US Social Security Number (SSN) – as a major E-2 investor, there is no need to have an SSN to start your business. However, it is advisable to obtain your SSN as soon as possible.
7. What are the criteria for extending my E2 visa?
When renewing an E-2 visa, several criteria are taken into account, such as the number of employees you have, whether they work full-time or part-time, the wages they receive, and whether you hire independent contractors. Also, the received profit, which should correspond to the standard of living for the investor and his family members in the US, as well as a benefit to the US economy.
8. What do I need to include on my E-2 visa extension application?
The court official will consider several factors, such as whether the company is profitable and whether it creates jobs for American workers. This is a rather individual question that should be discussed in detail with your agent.
1. If I am applying for an E2 visa, can I include my spouse and children in the application?
Yes. They also fill out a package of documents and applications for an E-2 visa as dependents.
2. Can I include children of any age in the application?
No. The allowed age for children is up to 21 years.
3. Can a spouse work on an E-2 visa?
Yes. Once the E-2 visa is approved, and you arrive in the United States, your spouse can apply for a work permit.
4. Can my children work in the USA?
No. Your children are not allowed to work in the United States.
5. Can children with an E-2 visa go to school in the US?
Yes. As E-2 dependents, your children can attend public school and even college until age 21.
6. When can my spouse get a Social Security number?
Your spouse can apply for an SSN at the same time as you, even before the work permit is issued.
7. Do children need to apply for a Social Security number?
Your children are not eligible to apply for an SSN, but they can apply for an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number), which will be required to file a tax return and claim them as dependents with the IRS.
8. Will my children be forced to leave the United States when they turn 21?
When your children turn 21, they are no longer allowed to remain in the United States as your dependent. Your children will either have to leave the United States or apply for a visa on their own. For example, if your child went to University, they can apply for an F-1 student visa that will allow them to complete their studies. If they have F-1 status for at least one year and have graduated from college in the United States, they can apply for additional practical training, which permits them to work for one year in their specialty. They can also try to find an employer in the US and apply for an H1B visa.
1. How much do you need to invest to get an E-2 visa?
The law does not specify a minimum dollar amount for an investor visa. This amount will vary depending on the type of activity you choose (for example, services or selling goods), whether you are creating a business from scratch or buying an existing one, and the location of the business. Investments often start at $100,000.
2. What additional costs should the applicant consider?
The success of a case is largely dependent on your choice of a licensed agent/lawyer. In addition to the investment itself, it is worth considering your agent’s payment.
It is important to know
1. Is the E-2 visa available to citizens of the Russian Federation, Belarus, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan?
No. These countries do not have an E-2 visa agreement with the United States.
2. What are the alternatives if my country does not have an agreement with the US for this type of visa?
There is a way to apply for an E-2 visa through a Grenada passport by investment. Initially, the passport of Grenada is issued for investment in the State Fund or real estate. Then, as citizens of Grenada, you can apply for the E-2 visa. The validity of this visa for this country is 2 years.
3. Is the E-2 visa available to citizens of Ecuador, Iran, Bolivia, Bangladesh?
Yes. However, it is worth considering that the E-2 visa is issued to citizens of these countries for only 3 months, and its renewal each time will require considerable time.
“How to get an E-2 visa through the passport of Grenada – read the full description here.”
Full list of participating countries and the period for which the E-2 visa is issued: Schedule
1. How do I submit the E-2 visa package, and what documents should I send to the US Consulate?
Each US consulate has its own procedure when it comes to the method and types of documentation that must be submitted to apply for an E-2 visa. However, documents will always include:
- A cover letter detailing how you comply with all legal requirements
- Documents confirming ownership
- Proof of significant investments and the legality of their origin
- Business plan
Applying independently for an E-2 visa has a fairly high risk of refusal. A licensed agent will help you choose the right strategy, tell you more about the pitfalls, and approach your case individually. Contact us for details.