INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM
UNDERSTANDING THE U.S. E-2 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM
E-2 INVESTOR VISA PROGRAM
The E-2 Investment Treaty visa is available for people who enter the United States “to develop and manage the operations of a company in which the person has invested in or is actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital.” The non-immigrant E-2 Visas are available for foreign investors if the country of the investor has a treaty with the United States for the E-2 Visa. At least 50% of the shareholders of the U.S. Company must be nationals of a county with which the U.S. has the required treaty.
The investor must make an actual, active investment. This means the money invested must be used to produce a real service or merchandise. For example, investing in vacant land lot would not be considered active investment; however, if the investment would be accompanied by the purchasing of rights to a Miami Grill development or purchasing an existing Miami Grill restaurant, it would be an active investment. The USCIS and the Department of State allow the use of a trustee’s account to protect the petitioner in case the visa is denied, however other evidence showing the investment will be active must be presented. The investor must manage the company and maintain an interest in the company. It is recommended that the investment have occurred prior to the submission of the application.
The investment must be substantial. “Substantial” is not defined by any dollar amount; both the USCIS and the Department of State use one to two tests to observe that the requirements are met. They require the amount invested be proportional to the total value of the business or the amount typically needed to establish a viable business in that market. The law does not establish a maximum or minimum investment. Therefore, part of an acquisition can be financed.
One advantage of the E-2 visa is that in most cases the process is handled by the U.S. consulate in the home country where the foreign investor resides, which in many cases reduces the processing times as compared to other non-immigrant visa applications.
Secondly, depending on the country of origin, the length of approval of the visa could be for longer periods – in some cases the approval is for five (5) years. However, the investor should consult with experienced immigration legal counsel as to how to obtain the residency (Green Card) if that is the investors long-term intent.