E-2 Treaty Investors: arrive and work legally in the U.S.


The E-2 visa is a very popular nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign technology companies, banks and services companies seeking to send executives, managers and essential employees, and encourage cross-border transactions with the United States.

Many types of businesses can qualify for the E-2 Visa, including restaurants, coffee shops, supermarkets, dry cleaners, gas stations and many more.

What is E-2 Treaty Investors?

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country (U.S. Department of State’s Treaty Countries) to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.

The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa, meaning it is temporary, while green cards are permanent. Moreover, a green card through investment requires a dollar investment of $500,000 or more, while an E-2 visa has no dollar minimum.

A substantial amount of capital is:

  • Substantial in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.  The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

Key features of E-2 Visas:

  • The treaty investor can work legally in the U.S. for a U.S. business in which a substantial cash investment has been made by the visa holder or other citizens of the country of origin, so long as this country has a treaty with the U.S.
  • There are no annual limits on the number of E-2 Visas that can be issued to qualified applicants.
  • Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years.  Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each.  There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.
  • Visas are available for an accompanying spouse and minor, unmarried children. The spouse, but not children, may apply for a work permit once physically present in the U.S.
  • All E-2 nonimmigrants, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.

General Qualifications of a Treaty Investor:

There are six requirements for getting an E-2 visa:

  • Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States (must meet applicable legal requirements for doing business within its jurisdiction);
  • Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.  This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.

The investment enterprise may not be marginal, i.e. one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family.

General Qualifications of the Employee of a Treaty Investor:

To qualify for E-2 classification, the employee of a treaty investor must:

  • Be the same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country)
  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law
  • Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character, or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.

Please see the Questionnaire  in order to find out if you qualify for the E-2 Visa. Consult an immigration attorney for a full personal analysis of your eligibility, and help with the application process.

Source: USCIS

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