E-2 Treaty Traders / Investor Visas
An E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa designed for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade with the United States of America. An E-2 investor visa allows foreign investors to enter and work inside the United States based on a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise, which is defined by the immigration as “a real, active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit”.
E-2 Visa Requirements for Investors and the qualifications:
E-2 is a work visa with certain requirements. The immigration authorities define an E-2 investment as “the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The investment may be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture, or purchasing a pre-existing business”.
An E-2 treaty investor is a non-immigrant visa reserved for foreign entrepreneurs of countries that have a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the United States. It allows foreign investors to enter and work inside the United States based on a substantial investment in a bona fide enterprise.
Treaty countries currently include:
- The investor must be a national of a treaty country.
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Yugoslav.
It is important to note that you must be a legitimate citizen of one of the above countries in order to fulfill the E2 visa requirements. It is not enough to maintain legal permanent residency. Your current passport must be from one of these treaty countries. However, you do not have to be currently residing in a treaty country as long as your citizenship from a treaty country.
- The investment must be substantial.
It must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. The percentage of investment for a low-cost business enterprise must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost enterprise.
Evidence that can be used to prove that the investment is substantial is corresponding personal and/or business bank statements, an itemized list of goods and materials purchased for the start-up, and corresponding financial accounting statements..
- The investor must have control of the funds.
At risk means that the investor is to be irrevocably committed. If you’re able to walk away from the investment without losing anything, you do not qualify. The applicant must have already spent the money towards the startup, purchase of a U.S. business, or enterprise. The investment must be at risk of being lost due to the business or enterprise being unsuccessful.
- The investment must be a real operating enterprise.
A real operating enterprise means that the enterprise must be offering a tangible good or service. Examples of these enterprises are restaurants, retail stores, medical offices, etc. Speculative or idle investment such as real estate investments, undeveloped land, or stocks held by an investor who has no intent to direct the enterprise does not qualify. Similarly, uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.
- The investment may not be marginal.
A marginal enterprise will not project enough return on investment to make a significant economic contribution. The enterprise must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to the investor and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the U.S. economy.
- The investor must be coming to the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise.
If the applicant is not the principal investor, he or she must be employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify. The government will not grant you an E-2 visa if they don’t believe you play an important role in the enterprise.
You must show that you will develop and direct the investment enterprise by demonstrating ownership of at least 50 percent of the enterprise, or by possessing operational control through a managerial position or other corporate devices.