How to apply for an E-2 ‘treaty investor’ visa

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The United States’ E-2 visa for treaty investors allows people to come to the U.S. to develop and direct a business in which they are the primary investor. E-2 visas are also available for critical employees of the enterprise and for family members of the investor or the qualifying employee.

The E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa. That means that it will not lead to lawful permanent residency (a green card). E-2 visas are granted for two years, with unlimited two-year renewals available. However, E-2 visa holders must maintain the intention of leaving the U.S. when their visas ultimately expire.

General qualifications for the treaty investor

  • The first qualification is that you must be a national of a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Here is a list of those countries.
  • The second qualification is that you must invest a substantial amount of capital in a significant U.S. enterprise. The investment must put your funds or other assets at commercial risk with the object of generating profit.
  • The third qualification is that you must be entering the U.S. solely to develop and direct the enterprise. You show this by owning at least 50% of the enterprise or by possessing operational control over the enterprise.

The term “substantial capital” generally means that the capital you invest is substantial in relation to the total cost of the enterprise; is sufficient to ensure your financial commitment to the success of the enterprise; it supports the likelihood that you will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.

The enterprise itself must be real, active and operating to produce goods or services at a profit. It must not be considered “marginal,” meaning that it must generate more than enough income to provide a living for you and your family within five years.

Examples of qualifying enterprises:

  • International banking
  • Transportation
  • Tourism
  • Communications
  • Insurance
  • Technology

How to apply for an E-2 visa

The process depends on whether you are already in the United States or are still abroad.

If you are lawfully in the U.S. on another type of non-immigrant visa, you file Form I-129 to request a change of status to an E-2 visa. The investor can also fill out this form on behalf of a qualifying employee who is already lawfully in the U.S.

If you are outside the U.S., you file Form DS-160, along with a photo in a required format. You will generally be required to go through an interview at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Refer to the embassy or consulate’s website for specific instructions.

For assistance, contact Yew Immigration Law Group. We have years of experience helping investors come to the U.S.