During the past twenty (20) years of immigration law practice I have represented business and restaurants, that you have likely dined at, in the St Petersburg, Tampa Bay FL, area to qualify and receive the E-2 investment visa.
The Treaty Investor Visa (non-immigrant E-2 classification) is intended for nationals of a foreign country with which a qualifying treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation, or a similar agreement exists with the United States. Nationals (individuals or companies) of countries with such treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in the USA in order to develop and direct their investment with the USA. The E-2 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. to invest a substantial amount of capital or to direct and develop the business operations of an entity in which the individual has already invested funds. A person may qualify as the principal investor or as an employee of an investor company having the same nationality. There are no numerical limitations on E-2 admissions.
The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.
Foreign nationals from treaty countries who have made a substantial investment in the United States may qualify for E-2 Treaty Investor status. There is no set minimum level of investment, which may qualify for E-2 status, however the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify. Therefore, the level of investment must be such that it is sufficient to justify presence of the treaty national in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business e.g. a speculative investment in undeveloped land would not qualify, whereas an investment in a real estate development project probably would. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made prior to applying for E-2 status.
The E-2 ‘investor visa’ is available to an applicant who invests a substantial amount of his own money into a U.S. business, which he can control and direct. The investment can be to purchase an existing business or to start up a new one.
- The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must be a citizen of a treaty trade/investment country, and be involved in international trade.
- If the investor is a company, at least 50% of the owners in the qualifying company must maintain the nationality of a treaty trader country if they are not lawful permanent residents of the U.S. If these owners are in the U.S., they must be in E-1 or E-2 status.
- The investment funds and the applicant must come from the same Treaty Country.
- The business in which investment is being made must provide job opportunities or make a significant economic impact tin the United States. The business should not be established solely for the purpose of earning a living for the applicant and his or her family.
- The investment must come from the investor. The money must be “at risk”. Thus, a loan that is secured by the assets of the business itself will not qualify i.e. if loans have been taken out, they must be secured or guaranteed by the investor personally, and not by the assets of the corporation.
- The investment must be substantial, a standard which depends on the nature of the enterprise. Generally, investment funds or assets must be committed and irrevocable. The funds or assets must be deemed sufficient to ensure the success of operations.
- The investment must be real and active and not passive; this means that a bank account, undeveloped land or stocks, or a not-for-profit organization will not be sufficient to be considered.
- The enterprise must be a real, operating commercial enterprise or active entrepreneurial undertaking productive of some service or commodity. Paper organizations, speculative, or idle investments do not qualify as real operating enterprises or active entrepreneurial undertakings. Funds in a bank account are not considered at risk since they have not been committed.
- These types of visas are for managerial and supervisory personnel, therefore, unskilled workers and workers with ordinary skills do not usually qualify for such visas. However, other personnel who have special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise may also qualify for such visa.
- Aliens who qualify for treaty investor status include the principal investor, who develops and directs the enterprise. If you are not the principal investor, you must be considered an essential employee, employed in a supervisory, executive, or highly specialized skill capacity.
- An alien is the immediate family member of a principle E-1 visa holder.
If Approved the, E-2 visa is typically valid for 5 years, but the length of stay allowed will typically be at two year intervals. Alternatively, a change of status can be filed with the USCIS if the applicant is currently in legal status in the US and otherwise qualifies.
This page is not meant to act as legal advice for your specific case. You should seek the advice of an immigration attorney to review the specific facts of your case as applied to the law.