Investing in the United States: The E-2 Business Visa

Establishing a New Business in America

Entrepreneurs from other countries wishing to establish a new business in America, or purchase an existing one, may qualify for an investor visa, also known as an E-2 visa. The Treaty Investor Visa (nonimmigrant 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. In order to develop and direct their investments with the US, nationals (individual persons or companies) of countries with such treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in this country.

These non-immigrant visas allow foreign investors and employees to live and work in the U.S., or foreign companies with U.S. subsidiaries to send employees to work here. The DiJulio Law Group has been assisting clients for over 35 years in addressing a wide range of legal matters, including their immigration and business needs.

Guidelines for an E-2 Business Visa

As with any type of visa, there are guidelines that apply for an E-2 visa. The U.S. Department of State website lists many, but the following information provides highlights of those guidelines.

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Treaty Trader (E-1) and Treaty Investor (E-2) visas are for citizens of countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation.

You must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities, principally between the United States and the treaty country; or develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested a substantial amount of capital.

Examples of types of enterprises that constitute trade under E visa provisions include international banking, insurance, transportation, communications, or tourism.

You must be coming to the United States to develop and direct 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. Ordinary skilled and unskilled workers do not qualify.

It must generate significantly more income than just to provide a living to you and family, or it must have a significant economic impact in the United States.

The investment must be a real operating enterprise, an active commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking. A paper organization, speculative or idle investment does not qualify. Uncommitted funds in a bank account or similar security are not considered an investment.

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