A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

E-2 Treaty Investors Visa

The E-2 nonimmigrant classification allows a national of a treaty country to be admitted to the United States when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business.  Certain qualified employees of the business may also be eligible for this classification. 

Basic Requirements for E-2 Visa
To qualify for an E-2 visa, an applicant must be a national of a treaty country. If the person will be employed and doing business on behalf of a company, the employing company must also be from the same treaty country.  The employing company must be at least 50 percent owned by persons with nationality from the treaty country. These owners must not be lawful permanent residents of the U.S. 

Other requirements include: 1) The investor must possess and control the investment capital; 2) The investment must be invested and subject to risks of loss; 2) The investment must also be "substantial" so that it is enough to ensure that the business will likely to take off successfully; 3) The investment must not be "marginal", meaning that it must generate revenues more than enough to support the livelihood of the investor and his/her family; 4) The investor must actively develop and direct the business  rather than actually doing employees' work.  

Advantages of the E-2 Visa 
The E-2 classification does not require a fixed amount of investment, unlike EB-5 visas.  E-2 admission is generally granted for 2 years, and extensions are possible.

Many countries have trading treaties with the U.S. for E-2 visas including Albania, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Austria, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgari, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Finland, France, George, Germany, Grenada, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Monaco, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, and other countries.

Further the spouse and children (under 21 and unmarried) may also accompany the principal E visa holder to come to the U.S. regardless of their nationality.  So if the principal applicant is a Taiwanese national, after his E-2 visa is granted, his Chinese-born wife and children may also enter the U.S. with him.  Also, E-2 spouses are allowed to obtain employment authorization to work legally in the U.S.

Currently, Indian and mainland Chinese nationals do not qualify for E-2 visas, but citizens of many other countries including Taiwan, Canada, England, Australia, etc., qualify for the E-2 visa.  India- and China-born investors who have acquired a qualified nationality (e.g., Canada) may also apply for the E-2 visa status.  

How to Apply for E-2 Classification
There are two ways to apply for E-2 visa classification.  Investors may apply for a E-2 visa at an overseas U.S. Embassy or Consulate Office.  If they are already in the United States, they may also apply for the E-2 classification by filing a request for a change of status with the USCIS.

For investors who are citizens of a qualified country, the E-2 visa is a great tool to invest and live in the United States without having to commit a large sum of capital upfront.  There are no fixed amount of dollar investment required and no specific time limit for the E-2 visa.

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