Basic E-2 Visa Requirements
Investor must be a citizen or national of a country with which the US has an established E-2 treaty.
Investor must make a substantial investment in a US enterprise.
The enterprise must be more than a marginal enterprise.
Investor must intend to enter US to direct and develop the enterprise.
Investor must own at least 50% of and control the enterprise.
COUNTRIES that HAVE AN ESTABLISHED E-2 TREATY WITH THE US
Step One: Understanding the E-2 visa requirements
“Investor must make a substantial investment in a US enterprise.”
But WHAT IS A SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENT?
For an investment to be considered substantial it must contain the necessary capital required to fund the enterprise. The required amount of the investment varies depending upon the type of business you are investing in, and whether you are purchasing an ongoing business or starting-up a new business.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, no specific dollar amount of investment is required to qualify as substantial. If you are purchasing an ongoing business that in all other respects qualifies for an E-2 visa, any purchase price negotiated at arms length between unrelated parties would be considered substantial as long as the investment meets the proportionality test (described below).
In a start-up scenario, the investment must contain enough capital to cover start-up costs and to fund the business to the point of being operational.
THE PROPORTIONALITY TEST
The investment will not be considered substantial if its not large enough to capitalize the venture. The USCIS uses an "Inverted Sliding Scale" to calculate if the investment is substantial. The USCIS final determination is based on the investment in regards to the overall cost of the enterprise.
“Investment must be Non-Marginal”
The enterprise must be non marginal but what is a non-marginal enterprise? A non-marginal enterprise is a business that provides more than a livable income for the investor AND employs US citizens. What is a livable income? A livable income is determined by looking at the median household income in the area the investor intends to live.
Funding The Investment
It is important to already have access to the funds required in the investment and be able to prove it. The funds must come from a legitimate source. Bank loans and traditional financing is not permitted in the E-2 visa category. Many investors moving to the US under E-2 visa are average hard working individuals who do not have immediate access to large sums of money. This means they usually sell their assets (house, business) in their home country or borrow money from friends and family in order to fund the E-2 venture.
Who can work and where?
The investor is tied to the business and must direct and develop the business, they can work only for the business they invested in; they cannot work for another US business. When a foreign investor comes to the United States to develop a business the investor can bring their spouse and children (children under 21 years of age) as dictated by E-2 visa status.
The spouse of the investor can work for the business invested in or choose to find employment in another industry, the spouse is not bound to the business and can work ultimately anywhere.
The children (under 21 and unmarried) of the investor can attend school but can not work in the US under an E-2 visa.
How Long Can I Stay In The US on an E-2 visa?
E-2 visa status is usually active 2-5 years and can be renewed an infinite number of times but is usually determined by the success of the business invested in. The length of stay is ultimately determined by the officer issuing the visa.