» E-2 Visas

How long does it take to get an E-2 visa?

An E-2 visa is a very document-intensive petition. In addition to a number of government forms, the visa requires the submission of a binder full of documentation that is often quite lengthy. Once the documentation is prepared, the processing time depends on the processing time at the consulate that is located in the applicant’s country. This could range from 3 weeks to 3 months (or longer).

Which countries are eligible to get an E-2 visa?

The E-2 investor trader visa is only available to people from the countries that the U.S. has a treaty with.  Many Western countries are on the list, but there are also countries from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East on the list. Israel was just recently added to the list.

Can I bring my family and can they work in the U.S.?

Your husband or wife can get an E-2 visa and are eligible to apply for an “Employment Authorization Document” (referred to as an EAD) to work in the United States after obtaining E-2 status. They can work in any field, and this is a significant advantage of an E-2 visa, as many other non-immigrant visas, like a TN visa and an H-1B visa, do not allow a spouse to work in the U.S.

Does an investment in real estate qualify for an E-2 visa? Can I buy a home and get an E-2 visa?

No. The E-2 visa can be obtained by either purchasing an existing business or creating a new business in the United States, and the business must be an “active” business. This excludes passive investments like real estate or owning stock. Your business must also make money, and as such, not-for-profit enterprises are excluded.

Do I have to make a business plan to get an E-2 visa?

Yes. A 5-year business plan is required and the business plan is a key element that immigration officials consider when they review your petition. 

Is there a particular type of business that I have to start or buy?

No. Any for-profit active business type is fine.

Can I borrow money to start the business?

Yes. Borrowing money is fine as long as the business is not overly leveraged.

Can I get an E-2 visa with a low amount of Investment? Is there a minimum amount of investment?

There is no required investment amount.  A common myth is that a minimum of $100,000 is required. If your business is a service business, the investment that is required will be much lower than if your business is a capital-intensive business.

Is an E-2 visa the visa where I have to invest 1 million dollars ($1,000,000) and hire 10 employees?

No. The E-2 visa is often confused with an EB-5 visa. In contrast to an EB-5 visa, an E-2 visa does not require a specific amount of investment and does not have a specific number of employees that you have to hire.

Do I have to hire U.S. employees to get an E-2 Visa?

There is no required number of U.S. workers that have to be hired to work in the business, but usually the business should employ at least some employees in the U.S. as reasonably necessary for the business to operate. If no workers are hired, the investment may be considered as a business that is set up only to support the E-2 applicant and his or her family. You do not have to hire the workers immediately, and your 5-year business plan should detail exactly when you plan to hire the employees.