E-2 Investor Visa Requirements: Everything You Should Know
In this video Joseph reviews the key requirements of an E-2 investor visa, so you have all the knowledge you need to understand the E-2 visa and get tips on how to qualify, investing, and how to get approved.
Key Requirements of an E-2 Investor Visa:
- You have the nationality of a particular country that is in partnership with the US.
- Have a real and existing business.
- Ensure you’ve sufficiently invested in the business.
- Show that your investment is at risk.
- Show that you intend to return home after your business ends.
- Marginality: Your business must make more than a marginal income.
Full Video Transcript
This is a really special place in my heart because I sort of got trained as a lawyer as an immigration business lawyer with E-2 cases. You’re really partnering with people to do startups every single case. We get to partner with people with big dreams and help them get started. And some of these we grow over the years until the IPO.
(people clapping from The Wolf On Wall Street movie)
It’s really really fun and I can’t wait to share this series with you. Let’s get started.
(Tsang & Associates Intro Splash)
Since this is the pilot we’re going to go to the key requirements of an E-2 and then later on in the other videos, we’re going to go directly dive into different cases and talk about their nuances.
0:45: The first requirement is that you have to have the nationality of a particular country that is in partnership with the US. The US partners with a lot of countries around the world and these are added every single year. If you are a national of a country that is in partnership with the US, then you qualify for this E-2.
(list of E-2 partner countries)
A lot of people look at that and say “Well I’m hopeless. I’m not part of that country so this visa option is completely apart to me.” Now that’s not quite true. A lot of people acquire the citizenship of another country who is in partnership with the US in order to qualify for this E-2. Just don’t be disheartened in your country is not part of that list. Don’t take no for an answer. Try to get the citizenship, and then you can qualify for E-2.
1:30: Okay the second requirement is that you have to have a real and existing business.
You can’t just have a random business plan to show the government that you are going to invest. You actually have to have a business that’s already existing. This doesn’t mean it needs to be a full flourishing business. It just needs to mean you have to have the Articles of Incorporation. You have to look real. You have to have a website. Depends on what business you’re doing.
If you’re doing a restaurant, well, do you have a restaurant? Do you have a kitchen? Do you have kitchen staff? You have to show that your businesses is either already operating or about to operate the moment you get in..
Now of course, some businesses have a much easier time to demonstrate this, like if you have a brick and mortar store or you have staff, you have pictures. What if you do an online business? What if you’re doing a consulting business? It’s still a real business; much more difficult to prove, but don’t be disheartened. Don’t take no for an answer. It’s still possible. You just have to go the extra mile to demonstrate that it is real.
2:27: Now the third requirement is that you sufficiently invested in the business.
So every business is different and a lot of people like to throw around numbers. “You have to invest at least $100,000,” people say. “$200,000, $300,000.” Its not the amount. You can invest as much as you want, but if you didn’t… if it doesn’t match your business and it’s just parking in your bank account, the consulate officer or USCIS could still deny it. You want to show that the amount that you invested is sufficient and it can actually take off.
So we’ve done a lot of success stories where it’s only $70,000… only $50,000… and it was enough to start up an entire business, to kick it off the ground. Why? Because maybe they already have customers. Maybe they have enough inventory in their service space that they can keep the business going.
So whatever your business is you have to think what’s the corresponding amount that’s needed to be invested. Every case is different. Every person’s background is different. Everybody has different connections. Maybe you have inventory that other people don’t have. Maybe you already have an app completely designed because that was part of your MBA project. You can use that for the business.
So different businesses have different strengths. Leverage that, and that can reduce the amount that’s actually needed to invest. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have a huge fortune to invest to start a business. That’s the beauty of the American dream. You can start with so little and grow it to be so much. The way I think about it is treat the Consular officer or treat USCIS as if they are an investor. Imagine if they are investing a million dollars in you to start this business. Why should they? Why should they give you the E-2 visa? Show them how your business is going to grow and that you’re going to hire people and then the US is going to get tax revenue, right? Show them that it’s going to succeed.
4:10: The fourth requirement, and this is probably the one that’s most difficult for most people, is that you have to show that your investment is at risk.
The amount of money, doesn’t matter how much $50,000-$500,000, if it’s just sitting in the bank account or the moment you invested it into your company, you used it to purchase your Porsche… Well, you’re not really funding the company now are you? You have to show that the money that you spent.. that the money you invested, was spent on the business. It’s at risk and it’s operating.
Why is this so hard? Because it’s kind of like a catch 22, right? Psychologically, I don’t want to invest a whole bunch of money if there’s no guarantee that I get my E-2 visa, but conversely, if you don’t spend the money, if you don’t invest, then you’ll never get the E-2 visa. It’s a catch 22.
(clip from Catch 22 movie)
So the problem is how can you spend it wisely? How can you invest it wisely? And that’s where everybody gets tripped up. It’s easy to for a lot of people, so for some people, to invest $100,000, telling them to spend it within a month in order for you to apply for E-2 visa the next month… that’s the hard part. That is where the key part is and that’s where the fun part is. How can you grow a business efficiently, spend it without risk or without significant risk and to qualify for the E-2 visa, right?
So that’s a lot of stuff to talk about. Almost every single one of our success stories deals with this particular problem so we’re going to talk about it. But the other problems are also real as well.
5:48: The fifth requirement is you have to show that you intend to return home after your business ends.
What is your exit plan? How do you plan on selling the business? How do you plan on exiting? How do you prepare that, right? So maybe some people they already have US citizen children here. Maybe the’ve already lived in the US for ten years because they were an F-1 student. All of these things makes it difficult to prove that they want to leave the US after the business.
If you have this problem, then you have to prepare documents to show that you will leave.
6:12: And then there’s marginality which is the idea that your business must make more than a marginal income. Your business cannot be so small that you’re just making enough income to put in your pocket, to take home, to feed your family. The purpose of E-2 is to bring in outside investors from all these treaty countries to come into the United States to start their businesses. If all it does is to be able to make enough income to feed their own family, then it doesn’t achieve its goal.
The main point though is that all of these things can’t be overcome. It’s a great visa category if you qualify. You’re investing in your own business, your own startup, and this will help you in so many ways over the years. I’ve seen people who started a business, they don’t know if it’s really going to succeed even after they got married and got a green card, they still kept the business and continue to grow it as a side hustle. And that turned out to be one of the greatest things. Every single case, right? It’s an idea. It’s incorporating. It’s trying to get customers. It’s trying to do marketing. It’s trying to grow and seeing what’s at stake for so many people and seing how hard they work on their business plan and partnering with them to help them grow.. it’s phenomenal.
Now there’s a lot of different types of E-2 attorneys, right? Like when you start a business, it’s easy to give a checklist to say please give me these documents to prove their business is existing, spend $100,000, spend $200,000 within a few months, and then we can file. “Oh you can’t? Well then sorry that you don’t qualify.” It’s okay if you’re that kind of practitioner. You still probably have a very fulfilling life, but that’s not what we do.
When the client comes to us with their significant problem, “I only have 50,000 to invest and I don’t want to invest it in all these things without a guarantee. What can I do?” or “I need to…
(Audio Ends at 7:56)