E-2 Visas: What is a E-2 Visa?
Investing in the United States from Overseas
Depending upon the state of the U.S. dollar and its relative value against various foreign currencies, overseas investors may find that putting their money into U.S. investments will grant them a very favorable rate of return. For foreign nationals who wish to take this path, the U.S. government asks that they apply for an E-2 visa. This is a special document that allows someone from outside the United States to make a domestic investment and also relocate there for a period of time. For non-U.S. citizens with money to spend, this can be one of the easiest ways to end up living and working in the United States.
E-2 Visa Requirements
An applicant for an E-2 visa must be a legal resident of one of the countries with which the United States enjoys a treaty of commerce. It is called a “non-immigrant” visa because it does not guarantee the holder a direct path to U.S. citizenship – although many people coming to the country on an E-2 visa eventually achieve permanent resident status. It does, however, provide for the investor and immediate family (spouse plus children) to live in the United States legally. While it is expected that the investor would actively manage the company in which the money has been placed – this may involve starting a new business or buying an existing one – family members are granted the ability to work on their own or attend school without restriction. There is no set minimum investment amount – the law simply states it should be a “substantial” sum, and each case is considered on its own merits – but the general rule of thumb will involve anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 or more. In addition, the investor must acquire at least 50 percent of the business (controlling interest) and come to the United States with the intention of operating the business directly as its executive officer or manager. The business that holds the investment is also under scrutiny. It must be an active operation, with real revenues and a product or service for sale. The investor must also possess a means of support that is independent of the business he or she plans to control in the United States. This person may own one or more companies in their home country which continues to pay them a salary or dividends, or else have substantial cash-on-hand that earns a large enough return to provide for an independent income. Finally, E-2 visas are most often granted when the applicant can show that the investment will create a fair number of jobs for U.S. citizens.
Length of Stay
The period of an E-2 visa is generally two years, although residents of some countries can receive a five-year visa. Extensions are easily granted so long as the business remains viable and in control of the visa holder. As noted above, one’s spouse and minor children (age 18 or below, unless actively enrolled in college) also receive E-2 visas. They are granted what is called “derivative status” and have the right to find independent employment during their stay.
The Application Process
Anyone wishing to apply for an E-2 visa must file the form I-526 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form, titled “Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” requires a fee of $1,435. Once that has been approved, it is possible to apply for permanent residence by submitting the form I-485 and an additional $1,010. Application forms are available online at the USCIS Web site and are meant to be submitted at the U.S. embassy or consulate in one’s home country.