The E-2 visa is a nonimmigrant visa created through an intergovernmental treaty of commerce and navigation. The United States maintains this treaty with a selected group of countries.

Country

Effective Date

Albania

January 4, 1998

Argentina

October 20, 1994

Armenia

March 29, 1996

Australia

December 27, 1991

Austria

May 27, 1931

Azerbaijan

August 2, 2001

Bahrain

May 30, 2001

Bangladesh

July 25, 1989

Belgium

October 3, 1963

Bolivia

June 6, 2001

Bosnia and Herzegovina

November 15, 1882

Bulgaria

June 2, 1994

Cameroon

April 6, 1989

Canada

January 1, 1993

Chile

January 1, 2004

China (Taiwan)

November 30, 1948

Colombia

June 10, 1848

Congo (Brazzaville)

August 13, 1994

Congo (Kinshasa)

July 28, 1989

Costa Rica

May 26, 1852

Croatia

November 15, 1882

Czech Republic

January 1, 1993

Denmark

December 10, 2008

Ecuador

May 11, 1997

Egypt

June 27, 1992

Estonia

February 16, 1997

Ethiopia

October 8, 1953

Finland

December 1, 1992

France

December 21, 1960

Georgia

August 17, 1997

Germany

July 14, 1956

Grenada

March 3, 1989

Honduras

July 19, 1928

Iran

June 16, 1957

Ireland

November 18, 1992

Italy

July 26, 1949

Jamaica

March 7, 1997

Japan

October 30, 1953

Jordan

December 17, 2001

Kazakhstan

January 12, 1994

Korea (South)

November 7, 1957

Kosovo

November 15, 1882

Kyrgyzstan

January 12, 1994

Latvia

December 26, 1996

Liberia

November 21, 1939

Lithuania

November 22, 2001

Luxembourg

March 28, 1963

Macedonia,

the Former Yugoslav Republic of (FRY)

November 15, 1882

Mexico

January 1, 1994

Moldova

November 25, 1994

Mongolia

January 1, 1997

Montenegro

November 15, 1882

Morocco

May 29, 1991

Netherlands

December 5, 1957

Norway

January 18, 1928

Oman

June 11, 1960

Pakistan

February 12, 1961

Panama

May 30, 1991

Paraguay

March 07, 1860

Philippines

September 6, 1955

Poland

August 6, 1994

Romania

January 15, 1994

Serbia

November 15,1882

Senegal

October 25, 1990

Singapore

January 1, 2004

Slovak Republic

January 1, 1993

Slovenia

November 15, 1882

Spain

April 14, 1903

Sri Lanka

May 1, 1993

Suriname

February 10, 1963

Sweden

February 20, 1992

Switzerland

November 08, 1855

Thailand

June 8, 1968

Togo

February 5, 1967

Trinidad & Tobago

December 26, 1996

Tunisia

February 7, 1993

Turkey

May 18, 1990

Ukraine

November 16, 1996

United Kingdom

July 03, 1815

Yugoslavia

November 15, 1882

Resource: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html


The E-2 visa is unlimited in duration and currently holds no quota or annual capital requirement. People who qualify for an E-2 visa will have invested considerably into an existing company registered in the United States of America, or are able to demonstrate ability and willingness to invest substantially in a company they intend to launch on their own.

The governmental authorities do not specify an actual sum, only mentioning a “substantial” amount (relative to the cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one) sufficient for a business to properly run its operations. The minimum investment threshold for a small business in the US is $100,000; however, there are precedents when investors received E-2 visa investing between $50,000 and $100,000 depending on the nature of the business.   

An investment is recognized as a treaty investor’s placing of capital, including funds and/or other assets, at risk in the commercial sense, with the objective of generating a profit. The capital must be subject to partial or total loss if the investment ends up in failure. The treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly, from criminal activity.

Several Facts about the E-2 Visa:

  • Typically issued for two or five year periods;
  • Allows you to get entry into the USA without actually "immigrating”;
  • Also covers the investor's spouse and children under age 21;
  • Can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the investor is running the business and profiting from it;
  • Also available to non-investor employees of the business (CEO, manager, key employee of the company);
  • E-2 holders can extend their stay, while still remaining in the US;
  • Established companies have the advantage of getting a longer stay per each visa over startups, who normally receive shorter validity periods (Under appropriate conditions, E-2 treaty investor registration may be granted to a start-up business);
  • E2 status holders and dependents may study in the US;
  • Children lose their dependent status after turning 21, and have to re-enter with a new visa;
  • A spouse, but not children, may apply for a work permit once physically present in the US;
  • An E-2 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission upon returning to the United States.  It is generally not necessary to file a new Form I-129 (change of status) with USCIS in this situation.

Who Normally Applies for E-2?

  1. Entrepreneurs willing to purchase a business within the USA
  2. Real Estate Investors
  3. People who want to retire in the USA              

Advantages and Disadvantages of the E-2 Visa

An investor’s family can also reside within the United States and be educated (you may study on an E-2 visa, however, you may not join a full length program. You may take up a few credits at a university if doing so does not conflict with the primary interest of the visa).

One of the biggest pros of E-2 is that it is issued for an unlimited period of time. As long the business is valid, ongoing and growing, providing income to support the Treaty Investor and his dependents, it will continue to be extended. Indefinitely.

Spouses of E-2 workers may apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 with fee. If approved, there is no specific restriction as to where the E-2 spouse may work. A Treaty Investor’s children cannot work in the USA unless they receive explicit authorization to do so from DHS-USCIS in the United States.

Investor’s children who have reached age 21 and created their own families can no longer reside in the US under the E-2 visa.

In comparison with EB-5, which requires an investment of $500,000 or $1 m, the E-2 visa is likely to cost much less. In fact, many families have paid between $100,000 to $200,000 to purchase a suitable business qualifying for the E2.

E-2 visas are valid and can be renewed with two year extensions, as long as you maintain the necessary qualifications. But only if the business operates. develops and grows the investment.

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How the US Government Determines E-2 Investment Success

Every business is approached differently, yet some basic indicators of success include:

  • More employees are hired;
  • The business has expanded;
  • Income has grown (petitioning);
  • Rent payments are made on time;
  • New business connections with vendors are established;
  • An export business branch was started;
  • Salaries are being paid on time and being increased;
  • Tax obligations are being followed;
  • Premises are rebuilt and refurbished.

How to Apply for Extension of Stay on an E-2 Visa

To apply for E-2 extension you must submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, along with E Supplement, and submit Form I-539,, “Application to Extend or Change Nonimmigrant Status,” for accompanying relatives. Along with it you must submit:

  • A copy of your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure document
  • A copy of original Form I-797, Notice of Action, if your status was previously approved or extended in the US or
  • A copy of your complete passport, including the E-2 visa
  • A letter from your employer stating that your extension is required and
  • A copy of your personal and US business income tax returns for the past two years, including payroll tax returns.
  • And all the financial documentation that shows that the business is in substantial compliance with the original business plan filed with the initial application.

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Things to Consider before E-2 Application:

  • You have to prove you have sufficient funds.  Experience in business management is not required but recommended;
  • The US government will thoroughly examine the source of the investment money. It cannot be crime- or terrorism-related. If borrowed, the funds must be supported with collateral;
  • Counsel may be asking what exact experience you have in running the type of business you are buying or entering;
  • You have to own the  majority stake in the company - 51% or more;
  • You have to present the actual paperwork with the proof of your substantial investment;
  • You have to prove that investment funds are from a legitimate source;
  • The investment size has to be proportionate to the type of business in which you are investing, if an investor buys business;
  • The only reason for the Treaty Investor to stay in the USA (extend a visa) after the E-2 visa is expired is to provide paperwork (petitions) in the interest of continuously contributing in the American economy;
  • The investor must provide solid proof of the amount invested and its origin,  such as cancelled checks or payment orders from an identifiable source, with corresponding bank statements proving actual payment to an identifiable beneficiary;
  • An investor can file for a Green Card after the investment has grown from the initial $100,000 to $1,000,000 through EB5 petition. The bottom line: an E-2 visa does not offer a smooth transition from temporary to permanent resident status. You may get a chance to apply for permanent residence after the business has been successfully operating for at least one continuous year;
  • The Treaty Investor must not  employ a certain number of US citizens;
  • If the Treaty Investor chooses to travel outside of the US while on an E-2 visa, they will generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States. However, the new readmission period will not apply to the family members.
  • Also, it is important to note that if the status has been changed in the US, the investor has to reapply through the embassy if he (she) left the US.

E-2 Visa Qualifications

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To start the E-2 Visa application process you must:

  1. Be a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.
  2. Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise in the United States (there is no legal minimum, but the applicant or company must be putting capital or assets at risk, be trying to make a profit, and the amount must be substantial relative to the type of business).
  3. Be a qualified prospective employee of a treaty investor if the employee is of the same nationality as the investor and either an executive or supervisor, or a skilled worker with special qualifications that are essential to the proper operation of the company in the US.
  4. Be the spouse of an E-2 visa holder. Your unmarried children under the age of 21, regardless of their nationality, are also eligible for E-2 visas.
  5. Be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise. This is established by showing at least 50% ownership of the enterprise or possession of operational control through a managerial position or other corporate device.  However, if only 50% ownership shown, the investor must prove he has the ultimate control of the company.
  6. The applicant must be either the owner or a key employee (executive or supervisor, or someone with essential skills) of the U.S. business.
  7. Intend to leave the U.S. when his or her business in the U.S. is completed.
  8. Not intend to invest into a marginal enterprise (one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and their family).

How to Apply for E-2

  • Applicants should generally apply at the U.S. Embassy or consulate accredited to their place of permanent residence (schedule an appointment for your visa interview).
  • An interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79.
  • Each visa applicant must pay a non refundable $205 nonimmigrant visa application processing fee and a visa issuance reciprocity fee for certain countries.
  • A digital fingerprint scan will be taken before the interview.

Required Documents:

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application, Form DS-160.
  • Nonimmigrant Treaty Treaty Investor Application DS-156E.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States.
  • One 2-by-2-inch (5-by-5-cm) photograph.
  • A credible business plan with 5 years projections.
  • A business registration for the United States business.
  • Proof of wire transfer.
  • Proof of legal source of income.
  • Statement of intent to return to your country.
  • Other documents relevant to the case, such as marriage and birth certificates of you and your family members.

Processing Time for the E2 Visa

The processing time for E-2 visas is generally between two and four weeks from the filing of the application, however, it may take longer in some Consular posts. This may vary depending upon the workload in the US Consulate where you choose to apply.

Note:

Before committing substantial funds to a business, whether by purchasing an existing business or creating a new one, an investor should seek independent advice, both as to whether the investment is proper, given the investor’s financial situation, and whether the planned investment is likely to qualify for E-2 registration. Applicants should never rely on prospective business partners for immigration advice!

A visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (generally an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials at the port-of-entry have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States which, however, does not happen often if all the documentation is properly prepared.