Visa For Investors
The E2 Treaty Investor
The E2 Treaty Investor visa allows the investor to live and work in the US to direct and develop the business, and allows entry of Executive, Management and Essential skills employees. In larger businesses management and executive level employees may be sent to the US instead of the owners of the business. Employees that are also nationals of the same E2 visa Country as the investor may also qualify for an E2 visa. The E2 visa can continue to be extended indefinitely as long as the business continues in the US.
Unlike the H1B visa category, there is no quota for E2 visas. The investment necessary to qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status varies and there is no set minimum. For consultancy businesses, for example software businesses, this could be tens of thousands of dollars or less in some cases. However, for smaller investments to register the business as an E2 business can be more difficult.
E2 Visa investment requirements
When you apply for E2 registration of a business you need to be in the process of investing money. Unless an escrow arrangement is possible, you should show that you have made a substantial investment before applying. An escrow arrangement is possible in some circumstances. For example, if you are buying an existing business money could be held in escrow to only be invested if you are granted an E2 visa. You should have realistic plans to establish and fund the business. Usually, the qualifying E2 visa business should eventually create employment for US citizens and residents of the US.
Nationals of many Countries can apply under the E2 visa scheme. Unfortunately, nationals of India and China cannot apply under the E2 visa scheme unless they wish to gain entry as a spouse of an E2 visa holder or can gain some other citizenship. Some Indians are applying under the fast Grenada citizenship program to become eligible to apply under the E2 Treaty Investor visa scheme. Even if you have to apply for another citizenship first under a Citizenship investment scheme, this is probably still a cheaper and faster alternative to the EB5 immigrant investor program that has greatly increased in cost since 21 November 2019 to a minimum investment of $900,000.
The investment used to qualify for an E2 visa must be in an active and operating business that requires people to work in the business. Therefore businesses that do not require any employees which could include passive investments in say property or stocks and bonds do not qualify. Usually at least part of the investment should have been made or money should be held in escrow before applying for E2 Treaty Investor Registration and E2 visa status. If you are buying an existing business it may be possible to apply for E2 registration based on a purchase agreement with the money being held in escrow, with the investment only going ahead if the visa is granted. The business needs to be registered as an E2 Treaty investor business before you can apply for an E2 visa.
E2 Visa and Escrow Agreements
Many investors are worried about investing money even before they have been granted a visa. It may be possible to have money held in an escrow account only to be spent if the E2 visa is issued. The following are some examples where this might be feasible:
E2 Visa is much cheaper than the EB5 Immigrant Investor Green Card
For investors who do not wish to invest at least $900,000 under the EB5 immigrant investor Green Card Program the E2 treaty investor visa category (or possibly the L1 visa) is worth considering. You will usually need to create employment in the US under the E2 treaty investor scheme, but unlike the EB5 immigrant investor visa scheme you do not need to create employment for a minimum of ten people and there is no visa quota.
E2 Treaty Investor Applicant Requirements
Investors from qualifying countries may apply for an E2 treaty investor visa in order to ‘Direct and Develop’ their business. They may also apply for E2 visas for key managerial and specialist employees which can be particularly useful for medium and large size businesses.
In contrast to the L-1 visa, there is no requirement that such employees have worked for the business outside the US for a set period of time, and there is no requirement that under the E2 visa scheme that the business continues operating outside the US.
E2 treaty Investor applicants should meet the following conditions:
E2 Visa Consular Processing or Change of Status
In most cases it is recommended that Consular processing is used and an application is made at an US Embassy abroad. The advantages of Consular Processing are as follows
The advantage of applying for an E2 visa via a change of status in the US is that with premium processing a decision can be reached in fifteen days. You will firstly need to have a non-immigrant visa for the US, which is not under the visa waiver scheme. You cannot change status under the visa waiver scheme. When you leave the US you will need to apply for another E2 visa at an Embassy or Consulate. The Visa Officer will then have to decide whether they agree with the decision of the USCIS.
E2 Treaty visa application process
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E2 Visa Employeesd
Once the principal applicant has obtained registration as an E2 Treaty Investor they can obtain E2 visas for qualifying employees who are the same nationality as the investor. Obtaining the E2 registration could take some months, and obtaining E2 employee visas usually takes about two weeks.
E2 Executives, Managers and Supervisors
Executives and Managers should be in a senior position and manage the whole business or a key part of the business. In larger businesses the owners of the business may not actually in practice spend much time in the USA. Such personnel should be able to demonstrate their executive or managerial pedigree, though there is no requirement that they have worked for the principal trader or investor for at least one year in the last three years, as there is with the L-1 visa. Documents required for the application would likely include job description, resume, and supporting letter from the employer.
E2 Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers
This is a good way of employing highly skilled level people over in the US. You should demonstrate that
Family and dependentsholders of E2 visa
Spouses and dependents of E2 visa workers are can also apply for E2 visas, and will normally be granted the same period of stay as the principal E2 visa holder. E2 spouses and dependents do not need to be the same nationality as the principle applicant.
Spouses are allowed to work. However, it is probably advisable to apply for work authorisation which may take a few months. Children under the age of 21 can study but unfortunately are not allowed to work under the E2 Treaty Investor visa category. Children after reaching the age of 21 years of age under E2 visa status will need to find some other US visa category to be able to stay in the US.