The E-2 visa is a temporary visa for foreign nationals who own, or work for, a company in the United States that has majority ownership by fellow citizens from that foreign national’s country. Only individuals who are citizens of certain countries with treaties of commerce and navigation with the United States may be granted E-2 visas. A current list of E-2 treaty countries is maintained by the U.S. State Department.
Moro Legal, LLC, advises and represents investors, employees, and businesses through the E-2 visa process. Schedule an attorney consultation online today to begin your journey, or contact our office for more information.
E-2 visa holders may work as owner-operators, high-level managers, or as employees with specialized knowledge of the foreign business. Investors can start a new business to qualify for the visa, or work for a business that they already own. They must be seeking to enter the United States solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise, which is shown by demonstrating that the foreign national has at least 50% ownership of the business or that the foreign national has operational control of the business in a managerial position. The business must be a bona fide enterprise, defined as “a real, active and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking which produces services or goods for profit.” The business may not be marginal, and must have the present or future capacity to generate enough income to support the visa holder (and his or her family) within five years of the date that the E-2 visa is granted. However, there is no set minimum investment amount that a business or investor must meet to qualify for an E-2 visa.
When an individual is seeking an E-2 visa as an employee, the employee must be of the same nationality as the employer, must meet the legal definition of an employee, and the employee must either be (a) engaging in executive or supervisory duties or (b) have special qualifications or skills which make the employee essential to the operation of the business. If the employee is seeking an E-2 visa, the employer (or a majority of the company’s owners) must also be in E-2 status if residing in the United States.
Individuals applying for E-2 visas must show that their business has already invested, or will invest, a substantial amount of capital in the United States compared to the business’s overall value. Funds placed in escrow on the condition of receiving an E-2 visa may be used to meet the investment requirement. The business must also employ additional U.S. workers beyond the business owner. If the visa applicant is purchasing a new business to qualify for the E-2 visa, the business purchase documentation must accompany the visa application.
Applicants may file the E-2 visa with USCIS in the United States or at the appropriate consulate in the foreign national’s home country. If filed at the consulate, the foreign national must retrieve his or her visa in their home country and then enter the United States. If the business owner is already in the United States and wishes to apply, he or she may request to adjust immigration status to the E-2 visa in the U.S.
The E-2 visa holder is only allowed to work in the activity he or she was approved for when the visa was granted, although E-2 visa holding employees may also work for parent companies or subsidiaries of the same business as long as the executive, supervisory, or essential skills are still required for the position and the terms and conditions of the employment have not otherwise changed. In any other case of a substantive change in the E-2 visa holder’s terms or conditions of employment (including a merger or acquisition of the business), USCIS must approve a new E-2 visa application showing that the affected investor(s) and/or employee(s) continue to qualify for E-2 status.
The E-2 visa is granted for a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests to extend E-2 visas may be granted in increments of up to two years at a time. There is no limit to renewals, and the E-2 visa may be renewed as long as the visa holder’s business meets the requirements.
The spouse and unmarried children (under age 21) may apply for E-2 dependent visas to accompany an E-2 investor or employee. An E-2 dependent spouse will be eligible to apply for a work permit in the United States, without restriction as to where he or she may be employed.
Moro Legal, LLC, advises and assists investors, businesses and employees through the E-2 visa application process. Contact us today to get started.
The content of this website is for general informational purposes only and is not a replacement for legal advice. Immigration law is a complex area of law that is constantly changing and this website cannot cover every facet of the law. Every case is different, and all individuals and businesses should consult with an immigration lawyer prior to filing any petition or application.