What Is an E2 Visa? (2023)

Written by: Patrick Findaro
Last Updated by Rocio Somoza: February 28, 2023
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This article is based on a video originally recorded on Visa Franchise Youtube Channel

Are you an entrepreneur or investor interested in relocating to the United States? The E2 visa may be your best option. This article will explain what an e2 visa is and provide information about how it has evolved over recent years, including current news updates.

Visa Franchise can help entrepreneurs and investors achieve their goals of owning a business in the United States. If you are considering applying for an e2 visa, this article will give you the answers you need to get started. Read on to learn more!

Contents

What Is the E2 Visa?

The E2 visa, also known as the Treaty Investor Visa, is a type of nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to engage in a substantial business venture. This type of visa is granted to individuals who are nationals of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.

The E2 visa is attractive to entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners who want to establish or purchase a business in the United States. The visa also affords business owners the opportunity to work and reside in the U.S., if certain criteria are met. Additionally, the E2 visa holders may bring dependents, such as their spouse and children, to the United States.

e2 visa business plan

Benefits of an E2 Visa

The E2 visa has many benefits for entrepreneurs who are looking to establish or purchase a business in the United States.

One of the major benefits of the E2 visa is that it does not have a permanent residency requirement. As a nonimmigrant visa, the E2 visa allows the visa holder to remain in the United States for an extended period of time, potentially up to five years. Furthermore, the visa can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the criteria for obtaining it are still met.

The E2 visa also allows visa holders to bring family members to the United States. The family members, who are known as dependents, can obtain an E2 visa of their own. Dependents of E2 visa holders are able to work and reside in the United States, although they are not able to work as primary investors.

Additionally, the visa holder is allowed to travel in and out of the United States. This means that the visa holder can leave the United States for business or pleasure without affecting their visa status.

Requirements for an E2 Visa

In order to qualify for an E2 visa, the foreign national must meet certain criteria. The individual must be a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The individual must also be investing a substantial amount of capital in a business, or in the process of establishing a business. The investment must be a real operating enterprise and must generate more than enough income to support the investor and their family.

Specific requirements:

To be eligible for an E2 visa, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Nationality: The applicant must be a national of a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States.
  • Investment: The applicant must have made, or be in the process of making, a substantial investment in a business enterprise in the United States. The investment must be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the business and must not be marginal.
  • Control: The applicant must have operational control over the business and must have the ability to direct and develop the enterprise.
  • Job Creation: The business must have the potential to create jobs for U.S. workers.
  • Spouses and Dependents
  • Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age of E2 visa holders are eligible for E2 dependent visas. E2 dependents may study in the United States but are not authorized to work.
  • Validity Period and Renewal
  • The E2 visa is typically valid for two to five years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the E2 visa holder continues to meet the eligibility requirements and the treaty country of the applicant remains in force.

E2 Visa Approval Statistics

The approval rates for the E2 visa are much higher than other employment or investor visas like the H1-B, L-1 and EB-5. Over the past year, the approval rate fell slightly from 93% to 92%.

The approval rate includes people who did not receive the approval in the first interview and had to return to the consulate with a revised petition. The State Department has not released the approval data for fiscal year 2017, but the 2016 approval rate was 92%.

We expect approval rates to decrease as the E-2 visa option for managers has been held under tighter scrutiny in consulates around the world. The manager’s E2 visa option is generally harder to obtain than an investor petitioning for himself. Immigration attorneys are often being asked to prove that a U.S. worker could not fill the E-2 visa position.

Year E-2 Visa Approval Rate*
2014 92%
2015 93%
2016 92%
*The adjusted approval rate equals:
[[1] minus [Refusals minus Overcomes]] divided by [Issuances plus Refusals minus Overcomes]

E2 Visa Approvals in The Americas

Our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico, remain the top countries for E2 visa approvals in the Western Hemisphere.


For example, Canada had 2,854 E2 visas issued in 2017, representing a growth of 10% over three years. This contrasts with Mexico, that has declined 10% over the past three years.


At Visa Franchise, we expect more Mexicans to apply in 2018 as fears have calmed regarding the perceived uncertainty in the Trump presidency and concerns have grown with the upcoming Mexican elections in July.

Two countries that do not maintain E2 visa treaties, Brazil and Venezuela, have had major growth over the past three years. Brazil alone has grown 354% over three years, representing an annualized growth rate about 100%. Many Brazilians and Venezuelans are dual nationals of E-2 visa countries in Europe and Latin America. In Latin America, E-2 visa demand tends to surge in countries with political and social uncertainty and instability.

Most of our Canadian clients move to the southern U.S. states of Florida, Texas, Arizona and California, often to escape the harsh winters in Canada. Many are also looking for greater economic and educational opportunities in the United States.

As for Latin Americans, there is a heavy concentration in Florida, Texas and California, and most of them move to the U.S. for better opportunities for their children.

E2 Visa

E2 Visa Issuances in The Americas

Countries 2014 2015 2016 2017 3 Year Growth
Canada 2,590 2,615 3,004 2,854 10%
Mexico 2,707 2,580 2,621 2,438 -10%
Argentina 536 595 683 566 6%
Colombia 322 393 465 420 30%
Venezuela 196 456 458 353 80%
Brazil 63 154 266 286 354%
Chile 51 141 116 172 237%
Ecuador 17 35 62 107 529%
Trinidad and Tobago 19 24 4 43 126%
Jamaica 5 6 21 31 520%
Honduras 46 33 45 29 -37%

E2 Visa Approvals in Asia

Asia has traditionally been the most popular region for E2 visa investors, due to Japan’s heavy concentration of petitioners. Through discussions with immigration attorneys, most of the E-2 visa issuances are for Japanese managers that are transferred to work in the Japanese company’s U.S. affiliate. Japan alone accounts for over 14,000 E2 visa issuances and that represents more than the 10,000 EB-5 visas issued every year! South Korea E-2 visa issuances have grown 20% over the past three years and many Koreans open up franchise businesses across the United States through the E2 visa program.

Language barriers can often be an issue for our Asian clients investing in U.S. franchises. We have developed a portfolio of business opportunities that has Chinese speaking staff (as well as other languages) to support our clients with less advanced English. Often, the franchisor can also provide an operator that speaks the same language as our client to support the ongoing business operations.

E2 Visa Issuances in Asia

Countries 2014 2015 2016 2017 3 Year Growth
Japan 11,439 12,172 13,609 14,360 26%
South Korea 1,766 2,137 2,020 2,126 -20%
Taiwan 361 382 463 561 55%
Thailand 427 506 598 511 20%
Phillippines 122 86 112 139 14%
Pakistan 52 140 160 111 113%
China 53 78 88 92 74%
Kazakhstan 24 20 37 46 92%
Sri Lanka 7 17 15 42 500%
India 22 34 34 32 45%

E2 Visa Approvals in Europe

Europe is not as concentrated in the countries issuing E-2 investor visas and nearly has the same amount of issuances as Asia. For years, Germany has been the primary source of E2 visa issuances and we see Germans moving throughout the United States. Italians have had a substantial increase in E-2 visa approvals, in fact, 35% + over the past three years. Many Italians move to Florida, New York, and California to open up franchises in the restaurant and beauty industries. Given the ongoing conflict with Russia, it should come as no surprise that Ukraine’s E2 visa issuances have increased 100% + over the past few years. Many Ukrainians are moving to Florida and New York, opening fitness franchises and small restaurants.

The British generally prefer service-based franchises that require a strong command of English and sales skills, albeit a relatively low investment amount ($90,000- $120,000+). Many of our British clients are moving to California and Florida to escape the cloudy skies of the United Kingdom. It should also come as no surprise that we have received many inquiries in March and April as the long winter drags on in Europe. Moreover, the Scandinavians often divide their time between Florida and their home country maintaining small franchise operations in the United States with a trusted day-to-day manager.

E2 Visa Issuances in Europe

Countries20142015201620173 Year Growth
Germany3,7314,3214,3294,26714%
United Kingdom2,9152,9352,9692,862-2%
France2,6413,2483,1992,8578%
Italy1,4041,9262,0541,91136%
Spain1,4801,9461,5221,402-5%
Sweden5295915355280%
Netherlands37731942744418%
Ireland27030035541152%
Switzerland23120128128825%
Belgium19124625224528%
Denmark14119920820344%
Austria12917819419954%
Poland10310113518983%
Norway192170179162-16%
Ukraine2973171115297%
Czech Republic687412110656%
Romania40475195138%

Our Italian client at the opening of his barbershop in Florida

E2 Visa Approvals in the Middle East

Is Turkey part of Europe, Asia, or the Middle East? It probably depends who you ask and perhaps what side of the city you live in Istanbul. E-2 visa issuances have grown 49% in Turkey over the past three years. Many Turkish nationals are moving to Florida and California and investing in a wide array of franchises, including fitness, coffee, and fast casual restaurants. Egypt also grew nearly 50% over the past three years and now has over 100 E2 visa issuances. Egyptian nationals generally have strong command of the English language and invest in service-based franchise (such as commercial cleaning) throughout the United States.

middle east-map

E-2 Visa Issuances in Middle East

Countries20142015201620173 Year Growth
Turkey42237168762949%
Egypt6710710710151%
Israel39448283113%
Jordan29352963117%
Azerbaijan2112382624%
Iran48251520-58%
Morocco171477-59%
Lebanon1443200%
Algeria1022100%
Tunisia11762-82%

 

E2 Visa Issuances When There Is No Treaty Brazil, China and India

Many countries, including the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), do not have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. allowing for the E-2 investor visa. With over 30% of our clients being dual nationals residing in countries that do not maintain an E-2 visa treaty with the United States, we have found that just because individuals are from a non-E-2 treaty country it does not necessarily mean that they or their spouses might not have another citizenship that would qualify them for an E-2 visa.

Brazilians and Venezuelans may leverage their European ancestry from such countries as Spain and Italy to apply through their second nationality. We expect many more Brazilians to apply for the E-2 investor visa. For instance, thousands of Brazilians recognize their Italian citizenship every year through their grandparents and great-grandparents. Also, we have clients from countries such as China who acquire a second citizenship through investment (often Grenada). They then make the investment and apply for the E-2 visa with their second passport. This has supported the increase of 72%, over the past three years for E2 visa issued in Chinese embassies and consulates.

For those not holding passports of one of the countries eligible for the E2 visa (listed below), they might consider investing for a second citizenship, or possibly have they or their spouse qualify for another passport through ancestry or birth.

E-2 Visa Countries

Countries With A Treaty Of Navigation And Commerce With The U.S.

AlbaniaArgentinaArmeniaAustralia
AustriaAzerbaijanBahrainBangladesh
BelgiumBosnia and HerzegovinaBulgariaCameroon
CanadaChileColombiaCongo – Brazzaville
Congo – KinshasaCosta RicaCroatiaCzech Republic
DenmarkEgyptEstoniaEthiopia
FinlandFranceGeorgiaGermany
GrenadaHondurasIranIreland
ItalyJamaicaJapanJordan
KazakhstanKorea (South)KosovoKyrgyzstan
LatviaLiberiaLithuaniaLuxembourg
MacedoniaMexicoMoldovaMontenegro
MoroccoNetherlandsNew ZealandNorway
OmanPakistanPanamaParaguay
PhilippinesPolandRomaniaSenegal
SerbiaSingaporeSloveniaSpain
Sri LankaSurinameSwedenSwitzerland
TaiwanThailandTogoTrinidad & Tobago
TunisiaTurkeyUkraineUnited Kingdom

E2 visa

Option for Green Card?

Although the E-2 visa does not have a direct path to U.S. permanent residency (green card), there are many ways to obtain a green card in the U.S. such as through the EB-5 or EB-1 visas. It is always advised to consult with a licensed immigration attorney in the beginning, because the investment might qualify the individuals and their families for a U.S. green card in the future.

Development of E2 Visa Over the Past Few Years:

Background:

The Department of State lost between 400 and 500 senior consular officers during the Trump administration, and there really wasn’t a plan to replace them, according to Department of State representatives briefing the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) convention about consular processing of visas in New York recently. Furthermore, because of poor ventilation in foreign consular offices, the Department experienced numerous shutdowns and sick staff when Covid-19 struck, which slowed down processing and created a backlog of E-2 applications awaiting authorization.

Although 500 new officers have been hired by Secretary Anthony Blinken, it will take time for them to become accustomed to the procedure. Officials at the conference forecast that it will take years for the U.S. consular system to return to its previous state before President Trump and the pandemic arrived. E-2 visa applications still take six to eight months to process, even in the better consulates, and in the worst U.S. consulates, no such cases are even being handled.

Recent news:

The E-2 Investor Visa has come under increased scrutiny in recent times, with processing times lengthening, and attorneys had to be creative in serving their clients who were investing in the United States. The Department of State has recently provided updated information regarding the processing of E-2 visas, with appointment slots at most consulates and embassies being based on discretion. As well, some posts have refused to accept E-2 visa applications at all, and visa processing delays have occurred for non-immigrant visas in general. Attorney Jacob Sapochnick has provided a brand-new update from the U.S. Department of State regarding the status of E-2 Treaty Investor and Trader Visas. For those interested in applying, funds and assets must be committed to the enterprise and must be real and irrevocable.

Conclusion

The E2 visa provides a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors to start or purchase a business in the United States. If you meet the eligibility requirements and are interested in starting or investing in a business in the United States, the E2 visa may be a suitable option for you.

Who Is Visa Franchise?

Visa Franchise guides investors in identifying and analyzing the best investment opportunities tailored to their specific objectives. The focus of the firm is on franchises that qualify for the E-2 (1) and EB-5 visas (2). Visa Franchise is the trusted advisor of clients from all over the world, helping them find the business opportunity that best meets their investment and immigration goals. Takes into consideration their capability, experience, and size of investment to ensure that they choose the best possible option for their unique, individual situation. Visa Franchise is based in Miami, Florida with offices throughout the U.S. and world.

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