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How to apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor visa for the United States

On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process. For expert assistance with your immigration matter, contact Reiss Edwards, immigration lawyers, and solicitors in London, on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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The United States is a natural choice for many business investors from treaty countries (countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation). In order to look after their interests in the United States, foreign business investors often need to be present in the country for a period of time to steer the business or businesses in which they have invested substantial sums of capital. This allows them to have a direct impact on how such businesses are set up and run. In order to spend time in the US for this purpose, investors require an E-2 Treaty Investor visa. On this page, we will explain who qualifies for the E-2 Treaty Investor visa scheme in the United States, the requirements which must be met, and the application process.

What is the E-2 Treaty Investor visa for the United States?

The E-2 Treaty Investor visa is for business investors who are nationals of countries with which the US maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. Applicants must be intending to develop and direct the operations of a business in which they have invested.

This visa scheme was put in place to make it easier for investors from treaty countries to manage their interests in the US. The E-2 visa does not, however, provide a way of retiring or residing in the US, it must be used to “develop and direct the operations of an enterprise” in which they have invested.

Because the E-2 visa is issued on a temporary basis, it can be renewed or extended on the condition that the applicant continues to invest in the US and they meet the applicable visa rules.

A list of the countries with which the US has a treaty can be found online.

Am I eligible for an E-2 visa for the United States?

To qualify for an E-2 visa, applicants must be classed as a genuine treaty investor; this means that they:

  • Are a citizen of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation
  • Have invested or are currently investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the US – see below for the definition of a substantial amount
  • Plan to enter the US purely to develop and direct the business in which they have invested.
  • Have at least 50% ownership of the business or “possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device”

The USCIS clarifies, “investment is the treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment fails. The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity. See 8 CFR 214.2(e)(12) for more information”.

What is meant by a substantial amount of investment capital?

‘Substantial’ means that the investment is:

  • Substantial in relationship 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. As such, the lower the cost of the enterprise, the higher, proportionately, the investment must be to be considered substantial.

The investment must also be in a bona fide business; this means it must be a real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial business entity producing services or goods for profit. Furthermore, to be considered genuine, the business must meet any legal requirements for doing business within the US jurisdiction.

How do I apply for an E-2 visa?

E-2 visas are available to investors (owners) and their employees; however, the application process varies depending on who is applying.

Investors (Owners)

Investors must first register their company with the USCIS’s E-Visa Unit. This process is as follows:

  1. Complete the online visa application form DS-160;
  2. Visit the Visa Appointment Service website and create an account, pay the MRV application fee, and arrange for the delivery of your passport by courier once you have attended the visa interview.
  3. Send your supporting documents electronically by email to the E-Visa unit.

Several documents must be provided to register a company with the E-Visa unit, these can be found online.

The E-Visa Unit will then contact the investor to arrange an interview.

Employees

Employees of registered companies need to make an appointment using the Visa Appointment Service. There is no requirement to send evidence/documents at this stage, as these will be checked during the interview.

Can my family members join in the US if I have an E-2 visa?

Yes, treaty investors and employees may be joined by their spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years of age. To gain the necessary permission to join you (or follow you at a later date), your family members will need to apply for an E-2 visa as a dependant. If granted, the visa they receive will typically run for the same duration as that of the main visa holder. In addition, family members joining an E-2 visa holder can apply for clearance to work in the US, and if this is approved, they will not have any restrictions on the type of work they can undertake.

Processing time for E-2 visa

Processing times for E-2 visas can range from as little as two weeks to four to five months, depending on how busy the visa processing office is, the complexity of your application, and whether all documents have been provided.

Applying for E2 status while in the US

It is possible to apply for an E-2 visa if already in the United States. Where a treaty investor is already lawfully located in the United States, they can request a change of status from their current status to E-2 status. To do so, they need to complete and file Form I-129.

Reiss Edwards has the resources and expertise to assist with all aspects of US immigration. If you need assistance with your E-2 visa application for the US or any other immigration matter, contact our E-2 Visa Immigration Lawyers on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk

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"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

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Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

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Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

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