The E2 Treaty Investor visa program 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 on the number of E2 visas that may be graned. The investment necessary to qualify for E2 Treaty Investor status must be significant. Although there is no set minimum it is generally accepted that $100,000 is the requirement of a significant investment.
The investor needs to be a citizen of a treaty country to be eligible for the E2. For those who have made a significant investment in a US business in which the investor has at least a 50% ownership. The investment must be sufficient to provide employment for a number of people in the United States and must be in an active US business.
If the business is 50/50 controlled by nationals of two different E2 eligible countries then nationals of both countries may be able to gain entry under the E2 visa scheme. The E2 visa can continue to be extended indefinitely as long as the business continues in the US.
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 and irrevocable investment before applying. An escrow arrangement is possible in some circumstances where the money is released upon the condition of receiving an E2 visa.
The investment used to qualify for an E2 visa must be in an active and operating business that requires people to actively 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.
E2 treaty Investor applications should meet following criteria:
- There has been a substantial investment in the US or in some circumstances money is held in escrow to be transferred if the E2 visa is granted. There is no specific investment requirement but the baseline is around $100,000 USD.
- Money has been put at risk for the E2 Treaty Investor business: the investment must entail some risk to the investor. You may need to have an office lease agreement in the US. If you have a purchase agreement and are taking over an existing business, you can have money held in escrow.
- The investor will direct and develop his/her investment. E2 visa treaty investors with the requisite nationality will usually need to have 50% control of the US business.
- The E2 business should not be considered to be "marginal". US workers are (or will be) employed. The treaties envisage more than just creating a job for the principal investor, but there is no requirement to employ a particular number of US citizens or residents. It should be possible to meet the requirements by employing only a small number of employees.
- You should have a business plan detailing the future plans for a new business. This should have detailed information on the new business and the plans to employ new staff in the US.
- Details of the skills, qualifications, and work history should be provided for any prospective employees of the E2 Treaty Investor, and if appropriate for the investor themselves.
- The investor must show proof of lawful accrual of funds for the investment
- That the principal investor, and any other E2 visa staff, must be able and willing to leave the US upon termination of their E2 visa status, since the E2 is a non-immigrant visa category. However, the E2 Treaty investor visa can continue to be extended indefinitely.
E2 Visa Employees
Once the principal applicant has obtained registration as an E2 Treaty Investor they can obtain E2 visas for qualifying employees who are usually the same nationality as the investor.
1) 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.
2) Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers:
This is a good way of employing highly skilled level people over in the US. You should demonstrate that:
- The employee has specialized knowledge of the business which may be difficult to find in the US.
- The employee is necessary for the running of the principal trader or investor's business in the USA.
3) Family and dependents of E2 visa holders
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 principal 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.
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