The E2 visa business, according to the State Department, “must be an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking.”
Money or stocks sitting in a business bank account will not be considered an investment for E2 visa purposes.
Top E2 visa attorneys suggest that the business is operating or as close to operations as possible before applying for the visa. Although we have had E2 visa approvals for businesses with just a letter of intent and no signed lease for the business premise, similar cases have also been denied. The denials have all been investors not following the advice of their immigration counsel. Denied petitioners generally invested and committed little capital/time, increasing the risk of denials for the Real Operating Enterprise requirement, among others.
The U.S. government wants to see that the E2 visa applicant has significant ‘skin in the game’ before the visa is approved. You could blame your fellow countrymen who have successfully received E2 visas for business plans that were not carried out and then tried to renew the visa with the same business five years later. This is especially common for passive real estate development and flipping businesses.
For example, embassies in Paris and Buenos Aires are extremely rigid on real estate-related businesses given past failures of these businesses to meet the ‘real operating enterprise’ and ‘Direct and Develop’ requirements.