In March, the U.S. Department of State suspended routine visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. Now, some embassies and consulates are reopening in phases. As part of the phased reopening, the State Department is beginning to process E-2 treaty investor visas, along with some other visas.
If you 1) have the ability to make a substantial investment in a U.S. business and 2) come from a country with which the U.S. maintains a commerce and navigation treaty, you may qualify for an E-2 treaty investor visa. This is a non-immigrant visa that allows you to come to the U.S. for two years to develop and direct the business you have invested in.
Is an E-2 treaty investor visa for you?
There are two basic criteria for an E-2 treaty investor visa. First, you must invest a “substantial amount of capital” in a qualifying U.S. business or be in the process of doing so. Second, you must be traveling to the U.S. to develop and direct that business.
A substantial amount of capital is defined as:
- Substantial in relationship to the total cost of purchasing or establishing the business
- Sufficient to ensure your financial commitment to the successful operation of the business
- Sufficient to support the likelihood that you will be successful in developing and directing the business
The law does not specify a dollar value of the required investment. However, be prepared to invest at least $100,000.
In addition, your business must be real, active and operating, which means producing goods or services for profit. It must also meet the local business laws and regulations. Finally, it cannot be “marginal.” That means that it must have the present or future capacity (within 5 years) to generate enough income for you and your family to live on.
Purpose of your trip to U.S.
Are you coming to the U.S. to develop and direct that enterprise? This can mean either that you own at least 50% of the enterprise or that you have operational control. If so, you meet the other criterion for an E-2 treaty investor visa.
How the E-2 visa works
If you receive this visa, it qualifies you for an initial two-year stay in the U.S. You may receive unlimited extensions of two years each. However, you must maintain the intention of leaving the U.S. when your status expires or is terminated. While in the U.S., you may only work at the business you have invested in.
Your spouse and any unmarried children under age 21 can come to the U.S. with you as dependents. They will also receive an initial stay of two years with unlimited two-year extensions. Your spouse can also petition for authorization to work in the U.S.
You must notify the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if there is a substantial change to your U.S. business. This could be a merger or acquisition, sale of a division of the company, or any event that affects your relationship with the business. If you are unsure of whether a change is substantial, discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney at Yew Immigration Law Group.