E-2 VISA FOR TREATY INVESTORS
The E2 visa classification for treaty investors is exclusive for citizens of treaty countries. It allows a treaty country investor to receive a work visa after investing in a new or existing enterprise in the United States. An applicant may either apply for an E-2 visa through consulate processing abroad in his or her home country, or the applicant may also apply for a change of status if he or she is already in the United States under a valid nonimmigrant status.
A perfect example of an E-2 visa applicant would be a chef from Paris investing $60,000 in opening a fine dining restaurant in New York, where she spent $60,000 on setting up the company, staffing, leasing, and marketing.
At Tsang & Associates, our team of immigration attorneys has successfully helped many clients to secure E-2 visas. We can help to complete the process from start to finish as well as provide continued assistance in maintaining compliance and securing E-2 visa extensions.
E-2 PROCESS OVERVIEW
Step 1: Strategy Session for E-2 Visa
This is the most crucial step for your entire E-2 Visa. We will review all of the supporting documents to create a strategy, a customized checklist, and a timeline to serve as the guiding foundation for the entire case preparation.
Step 2: Prepare the USCIS E-2 Visa Application
Our team will complete all the application forms and package and assemble all supporting documents and information into the proper application format to enhance your chances of approval.
Step 3: Submit the E-2 Visa Application to USCIS
Once our team prepares all the information in the proper format and organizes all supporting documents, we will send the completed packet to USCIS.
Step 4: Respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)
In the event USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) or Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), our attorneys will craft a response in a timely manner to fight for the approval of your E-2 visa application.
Step 2: Prepare the Consulate E-2 Visa Application
Our team will complete all the application forms, then package and assemble all supporting documents and information into the proper application format to enhance your chances of approval.
Step 3: Submit the E-2 Visa Application to the Consulate
Once our team prepares all the information into the proper format and organizes all supporting documents, we will send the completed packet to the consulate in your home country.
Step 4: Prepare Client for Interview at the Consulate
We help guide you in your preparation for the interview with the consulate by simulating the interview and ensuring you are well-versed in the application material. Our services include a comprehensive strategy for answering inquiries posed, practice questions, thorough feedback, and other tools to help you succeed during your interview.
Step 5: Respond to Consulate Requests/ Administrative Processing
After the interview, we will assist with any follow-up required, including responding to additional document requests from the consulate, revised applications, or fraud alerts. This step is about keeping close tabs with the consulate until your visa is issued.
Arrival Is Only The Beginning
Continued Corporate Guidance
Securing the initial E-2 approval is not everything. Many businesses have failed to secure E-2 extensions and have had to leave the United States. We are here to help you stay qualified for all your extension needs and as corporate counsel.
E-2 VISA COSTS & FEES
Our fee structure is unique to us as we strive to tailor our services for each client individually. We adapt price standards that are capable of fluctuating for each client depending on their unique needs. Clients may retain us for one or all of the below steps/services.
Consular Processing Fee: ~$205
When applying for an E-2 Visa from outside the US, the consulate in your home country may charge a processing fee. Check with your home country’s consulate as fees vary by home country and reciprocity schedule.
E-2 Legal Fee: $6,000
Our typical fee for a standard E-2 case is $6,000, not including governmental fees and third-party extensions. We are happy to customize a proposal for you during a consultation and walk you through what a standard E-2 case looks like.
ESTIMATED TOTAL E-2 COSTS: ~$6,460 – $6,665
Filing Fee Payment Details: You may pay the filing fee with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. When filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and we will help you send it to the correct USCIS Mailing Address. Please note that service centers are not able to process credit card payments.
When you send a payment, you agree to pay for a government service. Filing and biometric service fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of any action we take on your application, petition, or request, or if you withdraw your request.
E-2 VISA PROCESSING TIME
As with any USCIS petition or application, the E-2 visa processing times vary depending on the nature of the case. The number of applications and petitions that have been received by USCIS will also affect processing times, as will the accuracy of the information and the amount of evidence you provide with your petition.
In our experience, the typical E-2 processing time varies with each consulate, but on average, it takes 6-12 weeks from the date of receipt of the application for the interview to occur. You can use the USCIS Processing Timetable to figure out how long the E-2 visa processing time will be.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for requests for additional information or evidence.
E-2 VISA TREATY COUNTRIES
To qualify for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa, you must be a national of a treaty country, but you do not need to be currently living in the treaty country. Legal permanent residents cannot apply. E-2 Treaty Investor countries are subject to change, the complete list is provided by U.S. Department of State.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- China (Taiwan)
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- Denmark (excluding Greenland)
- South Korea
- Slovak Republic
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Kingdom
E-2 VISA REQUIREMENTS
E2 Visa Eligibility
- National of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation;
- Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States; and
- Seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.
- This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.
Determining "substantial amount of capital" for E-2 Treaty Investor
- Substantial in proportion to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one
- Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise
- Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise.
- The lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.
What is a "bona fide enterprise"?
According to USCIS, a bona fide enterprise is “a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for a profit.”
Limitations on E-2 Treaty Investors
Marginal enterprises are not considered bona fide enterprises as they do not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his/her family.
Even if a new enterprise lacks the current capacity to generate income, it may avoid being considered a “marginal enterprise” by projecting the capacity to generate income within 5 years from the treaty investor’s E-2 classification.
Employee of a Treaty Investor Eligibility
- Same nationality of the principal alien employer (who must have the nationality of the treaty country);
- Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law; and
- Either be engaging in duties of an executive or supervisory character or if employed in a lesser capacity, have special qualifications.
If the principal alien employer is not an individual:
It must be an enterprise or organization at least 50% owned by persons in the United States who have the nationality of the treaty country. These owners must either:
- be maintaining nonimmigrant treaty investor status or
- if the owners are not in the United States, they must be, if they were to seek admission to this country, classifiable as nonimmigrant treaty investors.
“Executive or supervisory character”
Employee has complete control and responsibility for the enterprise’s overall operation or a major component of it.
Employee’s services are essential to the operation of the treaty enterprise:
- The degree of proven expertise in the employee’s area of operations
- Whether others possess the employee’s specific skills
- The salary that the special qualifications can command
- Whether the skills and qualifications are readily available in the United States
Evidence Checklist for E-2 Treaty Investor
For an Existing Enterprise: (show purchase price)
- Tax valuation
- Market appraisal
For a New Enterprise: (show estimated start-up cost)
- Trade Association Statistics
- Chamber of Commerce Estimates
- Market Surveys
Source of Investment:
- Personal statement of net worth prepared by a certified accountant
- Transactions showing payment of sold property or business (proof of property ownership and promissory notes) and rental income (lease agreements)
- Voided investment certificates or internal bank vouchers and appropriate bank statement crediting proceeds
- Debit and credit advices for personal and/or business account withdrawals
- Audited financial statement
- Annual report of parent company
Evidence of Investment:
- Escrow documents
- Signed purchase/sales agreement
- Closing and settlement papers
- Loan or mortgage documents
- Promissory notes
- Financial reports
- Tax returns
- Security agreements
- Assumption of lease agreement
- Business account statement for routine operations
- Inventory listing, shipment invoices of inventory, equipment or business related property
- Receipts for inventory purchases
- Canceled checks or official payment receipts for expenditures
- Canceled check for first month’s rent or full annual advance rent payment
- Lease agreement
- Purchase orders
- Improvement expenses
- Initial business accounts statements
- Wire transfer receipts
- Letter from E-2 enterprise providing specific information on the applicant and the reasons for his/her assignment to the U.S.
- The letter must explain the employee’s role in the U.S. company (job title and duties), the applicant’s executive or supervisory responsibilities or, if not a supervisor, his/her specialist role, the level of education and knowledge required by the employee’s position, his employment experience, progression of promotion or high level training or special qualifications and the reasons why a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident cannot fill the position (if the position is not managerial or supervisory)
- Letter from responsible official at U.S. company or office identifying the need for assigned employee.
- Organizational chart showing current staffing pattern at U.S. company
- Evidence of executive, supervisory or specialized knowledge, education, experience, skills or training, such as certificates, diplomas or transcripts.
Length of Stay in the U.S. for E-2 Status
- Initial stay of 2 years maximum
- Extension of stay in E-2 granted in up to 2-year increments
- No limit on extensions on E-2 treaty investors
- Change of Status to E-2 granted in up to 2-year increments
- All E-2 treaty investors must maintain an intention to depart when their status expires or is terminated
- If traveling abroad, upon returning, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officer may grant an automatic 2-year period of readmission
Each U.S. Embassy or Consulate has different steps and requirements for applying to the E2 visa. Check the embassy or consulate website where you will apply for more detailed information.
General Required Documents for Consulate processing
- DS-160 Confirmation Sheet:
- All E-2 principal investor applicants and employees are required to complete the DS-160online electronic visa application form and submit their application confirmation sheet.
- Include an e-mail address to contact.
- DS-156E (for all principal applicant E-2 employees):
- E-2 employees are also required to complete and submit the DS-156E (PDF).
- Please note principal investor applicants are not required to complete the DS-156E.
- A copy of the payment receipt showing that the MRV fee has been paid;
- A detailed letter discussing the applicant’s job in detail. The letter should be printed on the company’s letter head and should describe:
- the company;
- applicant’s title and role;
- Salary, allowances, benefits and other compensation that the applicant will receive;
- his or her qualifications for that job; and
- The company’s contact information.
Fees for E2 Visa Services
- Fees for consulate processing
Requests for Additional Documentation
The consular officer may request additional documentation to determine your eligibility for a treaty investor visa. It is impossible to specify the exact documentation required since circumstances vary greatly by applicant. For detailed requirements for this category, review 9 Foreign Affairs Manual 402.9 Treaty Trader and Treaty Investor. Country-specific requirements for E-2 visas are found on the respective Embassy/consulate website.
What to bring to a Consulate Interview
- Confirmation page of the application form DS-160;
- Completed Form DS-156E: Each E-2 employee applicant is required to fully complete all parts of the DS-156E;
- Appointment confirmation page (if relevant);
- A passport or other travel document: The passport or travel document must be valid for at least six months beyond the holder’s stay in the United States and contain at least one blank page.
- One 5 x 5 cm (2” by 2”) color photograph taken within the last six months
- Evidence of the applicant’s status
- Evidence of previously issued U.S. visas
- A detailed job description letter which includes a description of the company; their role in the company; their salary, allowances, benefits and other compensation they will receive; their qualifications for that job; and the company’s contact information;
- Organizational chart reflecting their position in the company with clearly delineating lines of authority;
- A current curriculum vitae or resume;
- A copy of educational certificates, diplomas and/or transcripts;
- A copy of the approval letter for the registered treaty company;
- A signed and dated statement of intent to depart the United States upon termination of nonimmigrant E treaty legal status;
- A photocopy of the I-797 Notice of Action authorizing the change of status granted by USCIS if residing in the U.S. without a valid E visa;
- A copy of a name change by deed poll, if name has been changed; and
- If they have ever been arrested, cautioned, convicted, a police certificate known as an ACRO. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act does not apply to U.S. visa law. Click here for further information;
- If they have a medical condition that could have a bearing on their eligibility for a visa, a letter from their physician which discusses their current state of health. Click here for further information;
- If they have been denied entry into or deported, or removed from the United States documents relating to this. Click here for further information.
E-2 SAMPLES & TEMPLATES
Attorney Brief: [coming soon] We will provide an attorney brief sample for the E-2 petition.
E-2 Cover Letter: [coming soon] We will also provide a cover letter sample for the E-2 petition.
Sample Request for Evidence: [coming soon] Requests for evidence can be used to strengthen the case.
E-2 VISA FAQs
How long can you stay with an E-2 visa?
Qualified treaty investors and employees will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay in, or changes of status to, E-2 classification may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-2 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated.
An E-2 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted, if determined admissible by a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officer, an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.
How do I file for change of status under E-2 visa?
If you are currently in the U.S. in a lawful nonimmigrant status:
- File Form I-129 to request change of status to E-2; or
- Your qualifying employer may file Form I-129 on your behalf
What is the minimum investment needed to qualify for an E-2 Visa?
There is no set minimum level, though obviously the lower the amount of investment the less likely it is that the application will succeed. The amount necessary will also depend on the type of business engaged in.
If I am currently outside the U.S., how do I apply for E-2 Treaty Investor?
If you are outside the U.S., submit the visa application to the U.S. consular office in your home country.
Can I gain E-2 Visa status as a self-employed professional?
You can as long as you also employ other people. The principal applicant should be going to the USA to 'develop and direct' his/her business. Thus accountants, IT consultants, doctors, lawyers, etc, can obtain E2 and E1 visa status to enable themselves to practice their profession in the USA as long as they eventually create employment for other people as well.
What happens if there is a change in my employment?
In the case of substantial change such as a merger, acquisition, sale of division, or another event that affects the previously approved relationship with the treaty enterprise, the treaty investor or enterprise must notify USCIS by filing an amendment petition (Form I-129) and may simultaneously request an extension of stay.
Can I work for the treaty organization's parent company or subsidiaries?
Yes, if the relationship between the organizations is established, and the parent or subsidiary employment requires executive, supervisory, or essential skills, and the terms and conditions of the employment have not otherwise changed.
Does owning property count as an investment for E-2 Treaty Investor?
No, owning property in the United States does not entitle you to a visa. To qualify for an E-2 visa the investment must be a real active and commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity.
Can E-2 Treaty Investor visa lead to citizenship?
No, the E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa that you may maintain as long as your business conforms to E-2 regulations. To qualify for citizenship, you must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa category.
What are the benefits of an E-2 Treaty Investor visa?
There are many benefits of an E-2 visa including:
- Legal work in the U.S. for the company you invested in
- No minimum investment required
- A spouse can gain work authorization
- Children can attend school
- Ability to travel freely
- Unlimited extension of stay under E-2
- No quota on E-2
Does an E-2 Visa require an interview?
Yes, you will need to schedule an interview at the U.S. consulate in your home country to apply for the E-2 visa. If you are already in the U.S., you may apply for a change of status by filing the I-129 Form with USCIS.
What happens if an E-2 visa is denied?
It depends on the reason for the visa denial. If denied based on substantive grounds, you may reapply at the U.S. Embassy once you have met all of the requirements for the E-2 visa. If denied for fraud/misrepresentation or any other bars to admission, then you will need to apply for a non-immigrant waiver. Unfortunately, there is no process to appeal the decision made by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate. However, if you applied for E-2 status within the U.S. by filing the I-129 Form, you may file a motion to reopen/reconsider if you determine that USCIS made a mistake in adjudicating your petition.