What is the E2 Visa
The E-2 investment visa allows citizens of countries with a U.S. treaty of commerce and navigation to live and work in the United States. Under the E-2 visa previsions, an E-2 visa investor is able to secure dependent visas for their spouse and children under 21 years old. The spouse is allowed to work in the U.S. and children are able to study in public or private schools. Even though the E-2 is still considered a nonimmigrant visa, it can be extended without limitations.
E-2 Visa Conditions
In order to apply for an E-2 visa, the following conditions must be met:
I. Main applicant must have a qualifying nationality
Holding a nationality of a treaty country is a necessity for each applicant. (Mainland China, for example, is not a treaty country, so E-2 visa applicants from mainland China can only apply after obtaining the nationality of a treaty country, like Grenada). In cases where the applicants have a partner and children without the citizenship of the treaty country, they are still eligible for the E-2 visa as a dependent. For example, Visa Franchise has had many Italian national clients apply for the E-2 visa and bring their spouse and children over to the U.S. as E-2 visa dependents even though they only possess Brazilian or Venezuelan passports (neither Brazil nor Venezuela are E-2 visa treaty countries).
II. Investment in an American business.
The capital invested for the E-2 visa should be sufficient. There is no fixed amount of capital; however, it must be enough to create or develop a business of this type. Visa Franchise recommends minimum investment amounts around $150,000. The business has a higher chance of being approved if there is a more significant investment in the E-2 visa company. In many Asian countries like Korea, China and Taiwan, the average E-2 visa investment is generally closer to $300,000 and approvals can be quite difficult for investments under $200,000. When the main applicant does not speak English fluently, there might be increased expenses for bilingual staff and ongoing professional services (attorneys, accountants, etc.).
More workers, apart from the investor’s family members, have to be employed by the business and maintain their employment. Managers can either be hired by the applicants, or the applicants can be one of the managers. The applicants have to play a leading role in the company’s direction and actively participate in business management.
Uncertainties and Limitations
In comparison with other methods of immigration, the limitations of the E2 Visa are:
I. Investors need to actively manage business operations or hire a manager, compared to the EB5 investment visa, that allows for a more passive involvement (often times in real estate). This brings difficulty for most of the EB5 investors with inadequate skills in English and without the necessary know-how of the American culture. Visa Franchise has business options available for E-2 investors in need of more operational support given poor English language skills or constraints with being at the business daily given foreign business interests. Also, many Visa Franchise clients have children requiring constant medical attention and these E-2 visa investor need operational support to cover unexpected health issues that arise.
II. Children beyond the age of 21 are not eligible for the E-2 visa as a dependent on their parent’s application. These children can either apply for an E2 visa in their own name or have the child apply for another visa (such as an F-1 student visa).. We have some clients who will invest in one franchise to start and as the business expands to multiple locations, the adult children later apply for the E-2 visa.
Although the E-2 visa has its limitations, many immigration attorneys consider it a great first step option for foreign national entrepreneurs in the U.S. It is always advised to consult with a licensed U.S. immigration attorney before deciding on what visa option might be best for you and your family.