If you are a foreign entrepreneur from a country that has a Treaty of Trade and Commerce with the U.S, you might be considering an E2 work visa. When deciding to file a petition for an E2 work visa, there are many key E2 visa requirements and individual guidelines to keep in mind. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department (USCIS) has strict definitions of an E-2 investment as “the investor’s placing of capital, including funds and other assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the objective of generating a profit. Your investment may be for the purpose of establishing a new business venture, or purchasing a pre-existing business.” An E2 visa allows foreign investors coming from outside of America to enter and work in the country if they invest substantially in a bona fide enterprise within the U.S. In this article we’re going to elaborate upon important E2 Visa specifications for foreign investors as well as the qualifications needed. Because there are actually two different types of investor visas, when you are looking into filing for an E2 work visa, be informed to make sure that it’s the right fit for you. If the E2 investor visa isn’t the right choice for you, there is the other option of an EB-5 investor green card. The Law Office of Frederic E. Waczewski, P.A., a top immigration lawyer Orlando FL trusts, can help you make sure that you meet all the qualifications for the E2 visa and guide you through the filing process.
So what can you do with an E2 work visa? On the E2 visa you are able to work legally in the company you are investing in as your entry to the U.S., and travel freely in and out of the U.S. while doing so. As long as you maintain E2 qualifications (which we will discuss below), you can stay in the country on a prolonged basis with unlimited two-year extensions of the visa. You can also bring your dependents who are under 21, relatives, and spouse. Your dependents may attend U.S. schools and universities while you hold this visa and do not have to apply for a separate student visa, while your spouse may also work while in the country. However, there are certain restrictions, such as that these visas are only available to nationals of the specific countries who have investment treaties with the U.S. You cannot work anywhere else except for the specific employer or self-owned enterprise that was your E2 work visa sponsor, and the application process of an E2 visa can be very slow, since they are approved for two years at a time.
Requirements for the E2 Investor Visa
There are many standards you must abide by in order to qualify for an E2 visa. An immigration attorney like the Law Office of Frederic E. Waczewski, P.A., a top immigration lawyer Orlando FL has to offer, can help guide you through the process. Firstly, the point of an E2 work visa is that you are investing a substantial amount in a legitimate company in the U.S. This is the U2 visa minimum investment. A “bona fide enterprise” is defined by the USCIS as a “real, active, commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.” There are many types of evidence you can submit to prove that the business you are investing in is bona fide. This includes notice of assignment of an Employed Identification Number from the IRS, financial statements from the company, tax returns, financial statements, business licenses, quarterly wage reports/payroll summaries, different bank statements and bills for the business, client contracts and agreements, escrow documents, and signed leases. There are also general E2 visa requirements for investors that they need to qualify. The investor filing for this visa must be a national of a country who has that specific trade agreement with the U.S. These treaty countries as of 2016 are: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Yugoslav. This list can change, so if you are applying for the E2 investor visa, make sure to check with the USCIS if your country qualifies in order to proceed. You must be a legitimate citizen of one of the above countries- it is not enough to simply be a legal permanent resident. In order for you to be considered a national of the treaty country, your current passport must be from one of these treaty countries, although you do not have to be currently residing there as long as you hold their citizenship.
Secondly, the investment you make in the U.S enterprise must be substantial, and sufficient to ensure continuous successful operation. For a lower-cost business enterprise, the percentage of investment must be higher than the percentage of investment in a high-cost one. $100,000 is the general investment baseline, as while some investments of less than $100,000 are occasionally let through, generally the investment capital and reserves should total no less than $100,000 to qualify. You will need to provide evidence of your investment sum, such as corresponding personal and/or business bank statements, itemized list of goods and materials purchased for the start-up, and corresponding financial accounting documentation. It is also good to present a business plan that shows your projected earnings.
Thirdly, the investor must be the one in control of the funds of the investment. The investor must be “at risk, or irrevocably committed. If you’re able to walk away from the investment without losing the funds put into it, you will not be able to qualify. The money must belong to the applicant and already be spent towards the startup, purchase of a U.S. business, or enterprise. Loans under the name of the investment enterprise do not qualify, and the investment must be structured so that the money will be lost if the business or enterprise is unsuccessful. This is to ensure that the investor has an actual stake in the outcome of the enterprise. If the investor is purchasing an existing business, it is essential for them to learn the ins and outs of the business and its counterparts. Be informed about all the components of the business so you can present a realistic conclusion of how well they are doing at the moment and a projection of how successful the business will be.
Next, your investment must be a real operating enterprise. The enterprise you are investing in must offer a tangible good or service. Some examples include restaurants, retail stores, and medical offices. The investment must not be a speculative or idle investment like real estate investments, undeveloped land, or stocks held by an investor with no hand in directing the enterprise. Likewise, simply putting uncommitted funds in a U.S bank account or securities are not considered a qualifying investment.
A marginal enterprise will not qualify as producing a significant economic contribution, since it will not project enough return on investment. The enterprise cannot just generate enough income to support the investor and family, it must generate a significant economic impact in the U.S. Furthermore, the investor’s purpose of coming to the U.S. must be to develop and direct the enterprise. Even if the applicant is not the principal investor of the company, they must be part of the company in a supervisory, highly specialized skill, or executive capacity. Simply acting as an ordinary skilled or unskilled worker in the company does not qualify, as you must play an important role in the enterprise. There are several ways to prove that you will develop and direct the investment enterprise. You can demonstrate ownership of at least half of the enterprise, or by proving operational control through a managerial position or other corporate devices.
Other Considerations For an E2 Visa
The employee of an investor is also able to apply for the E2 work visa. However, there are many E2 work visa requirements that must be handled in order to qualify. The employee of the principle E2 investor is required to be a citizen of the same treaty country as where the investor maintains citizenship. The employee must be an “employee” under the definition of the U.S. legal code. You can look this code up on the internet, or you can let an attorney such as the Law Office of Frederic E. Waczewski, P.A.handle it. The employee must be able to prove that they are absolutely necessary for the fulfillment of your business endeavor. This qualification is fairly easy to prove if the employee is in a managing or executive role. If the employee has specialized knowledge that makes them essential to the operation or development of the enterprise, they can also prove such special skills and qualify.
Though the E2 visa does not officially require a business plan, it is highly recommended that you submit a comprehensive business plan as part of your E2 evidence when you file. A business plan helps to legitimize the investment and the USCIS wants to see that your enterprise will help stimulate the U.S. economy and create employment. It is necessary for you to make it crystal clear that you have experience starting a business, and that the investment is sound, so that the USCIS can see that your enterprise has a high likelihood of success at expanding the U.S economy. A business plan will show clear projections and also prove former experience.
Filing for the E2 Visa is a complex and labor-intensive process, which is why it’s always a good idea to consult an attorney with experience dealing with immigration law. If you’ve gone through the preliminary requirements for the E2 visa and think you meet the qualifications, the next course of action is to give us a ring and start the filing process so we can gather the materials necessary to send to the USCIS. We will also evaluate your case and figure out what visa plan is best for you, so that if you do not qualify for an E2 investor visa, then we will send you other visa options that may be more optimal for your situation. Because these filings are so time sensitive, you should begin right away, just in case you find out that other appropriate visas which have a fixed quota/annual allotment are better suited for you.
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Filing for a visa into the U.S can be a taxing, complicated process that requires a lot of assistance. The Law Office of Frederic E. Waczewski, P.A. has over a decade of experience working with immigration law in Orlando and is an immigration lawyer Orlando FL trusts to deal with their immigration issues. Call us today and get started on your visa process.