Applying for an E-2 Visa Extension as an Investor
Back in March 2021, we wrote about the application process for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa for foreign nationals with substantial amounts of capital to invest in the US. If the US is keen to encourage inward investment from treaty countries (i.e., countries with which the US has commerce and navigation), it is even keener to retain existing E-2 visa holders who have already successfully invested in the country. In this article, we will explain the process of applying for an E-2 visa extension as an investor in the US.
What is the E-2 Treaty Investor visa?
The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is for ‘non-immigrant’ investors from nations with which the US “maintains a qualifying international agreement, or which has been deemed a qualifying country by legislation”. E-2 visa holders can stay for an initial period of two years in the US to invest substantial sums of capital. The current list of E-2 treaty countries is as follows:
Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.
Can I extend my E-2 Treaty Investor visa beyond the initial two years?
Yes, as long as you remain eligible for an E-2 visa, there is no cap on the number of times it can be extended. It is important, however, that you always extend your visa before it expires.
The USCIS guidance states, “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 non-immigrant may be granted. All E-2 non-immigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated”.
How do I apply to extend my existing E-2 Treaty Investor visa?
Unfortunately, the process of applying for an extension to your E-2 visa is just as lengthy and time-consuming as making the initial application. There are several steps to the application process which must be completed online on the USCIS website. The main steps are as follows:
- Complete the online visa application form DS-160
- Login to the Visa Appointment Service website and pay the required MRV fee and arrange for the delivery of your passport after your visa interview
- Submit your extension application supporting documents (see below for more details)
- Attend your application interview (if required to do so by USCIS).
Which supporting documents should I send to USCIS with my E-2 extension application?
You will need to provide several documents to prove you are still eligible for your E-2 visa, these include:
- A covering letter outlining the enterprise and the beneficiary and that you meet all of the requirements as follows:
- A treaty exists between your home country and the US
- You are a national of the treaty country
- You have invested or are in the process of investing
- The enterprise in which you are invested is bonafide and commercially operational
- Your investment is still deemed substantial
- The investment is more than a marginal enterprise solely for earning a living
- You are still in a position to develop and direct the enterprise
- You still intend to leave the US when the E-2 visa expires
- Completed forms and other documents:
- DS-160 Confirmation Sheet: All E-2 principal investor applicants and employees are required to complete the DS-160 online electronic visa application form and submit their application confirmation sheet.
- 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 letterhead 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.
- If applicable, a letter of agreement between the treaty trader and their legal representative is signed by both parties and include a contact e-mail address and phone number.
- Evidence of any major new investments (if any) in the business
When it comes to the investments made, the USCIS guidance states, “if you operate the same business for which you were last approved, please submit evidence of any major new investments (If any) in the business;
If you no longer operate the business for which you were approved, you must submit all the documents required of first-time investors; and/or
If you have purchased any additional businesses, provide the purchase agreements and closing documents”.
In addition to the above documents, you may also be requested to provide proof of ownership that the enterprise is real and operating and that the business is more than just a marginal enterprise (referred to as ‘marginality’).
The key to securing an extension is proving that you are still eligible for an E-2 investor visa and that your investments are still viable and meet the threshold required.
How E-2 visa lawyers can help
Applying for an extension for an E-2 treaty investor visa is not a quick and easy process, no matter how successful your investments are. For this reason, to allow you to focus on your day-to-day business and investment interests, it is advisable to engage an E-2 immigration lawyer who can explain your options at each stage and handle the end to the end application process on your behalf.