E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
The Treaty Investor Visa (non-immigrant 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. Nationals (individuals or companies) of countries with such treaties with the United States can obtain visas to work in the USA in order to develop and direct their investment with the USA. The E-2 visa is for individuals coming to the U.S. to invest a substantial amount of capital or to direct and develop the business operations of an entity in which the individual has already invested funds. A person may qualify as the principal investor or as an employee of an investor company having the same nationality. There are no numerical limitations on E-2 admissions.
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The E-2 treaty investor visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign entrepreneurs from treaty nations to enter the United States and carry out investment and trade activities. Investment activities include the creation of a new business. The investment must be significantly proportional to the total investment, that is, usually more than half the total value of the enterprise or, if a new business, an amount normally considered necessary to establish the business.
Foreign nationals from treaty countries who have made a substantial investment in the United States may qualify for E-2 Treaty Investor status. There is no set minimum level of investment, which may qualify for E-2 status, however the lower the investment the less likely one is to qualify. Therefore, the level of investment must be such that it is sufficient to justify presence of the treaty national in the United States. The investment must be in an operating business e.g. a speculative investment in undeveloped land would not qualify, whereas an investment in a real estate development project probably would. Also, a substantial part of the investment must have been made prior to applying for E-2 status.
The E-2 ‘investor visa’ is available to an applicant who invests a substantial amount of his own money into a U.S. business, which he can control and direct. The investment can be to purchase an existing business or to start up a new one.
- The investor, either a person, partnership or corporate entity, must be a citizen of a treaty trade/investment country, and be involved in international trade.
- If the investor is a company, at least 50% of the owners in the qualifying company must maintain the nationality of a treaty trader country if they are not lawful permanent residents of the U.S. If these owners are in the U.S., they must be in E-1 or E-2 status.
- The investment funds and the applicant must come from the same Treaty Country.
- The business in which investment is being made must provide job opportunities or make a significant economic impact tin the United States. The business should not be established solely for the purpose of earning a living for the applicant and his or her family.
- The investment must come from the investor. The money must be "at risk". Thus, a loan that is secured by the assets of the business itself will not qualify i.e. if loans have been taken out, they must be secured or guaranteed by the investor personally, and not by the assets of the corporation.
- The investment must be substantial, a standard which depends on the nature of the enterprise. Generally, investment funds or assets must be committed and irrevocable. The funds or assets must be deemed sufficient to ensure the success of operations.
- The investment must be real and active and not passive; this means that a bank account, undeveloped land or stocks, or a not-for-profit organization will not be sufficient to be considered.
- The enterprise must be a real, operating commercial enterprise or active entrepreneurial undertaking productive of some service or commodity. Paper organizations, speculative, or idle investments do not qualify as real operating enterprises or active entrepreneurial undertakings. Funds in a bank account are not considered at risk since they have not been committed.
- These types of visas are for managerial and supervisory personnel, therefore, unskilled workers and workers with ordinary skills do not usually qualify for such visas. However, other personnel who have special qualifications that make the services to be rendered essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise may also qualify for such visa.
- Aliens who qualify for treaty investor status include the principal investor, who develops and directs 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.
- An alien is the immediate family member of a principle E-1 visa holder.
E-2 Visa Countries
The following countries have treaties with the United States that allow qualifying nationals to apply for Treaty Trader status:
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Grenada||Montenegro||Switzerland|
|Canada||Ireland||Norway||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Congo (Brazzaville and Kinshasa)||Jordan||Paraguay||United Kingdom|
- If the foreign national is already in lawful status inside of the U.S., then the foreign national must submit an application for a treaty trader visa by applying for a change of status, extension of stay, or change of employment at a USCIS field office in the U.S.
- This classification does not require a petition for employment if the foreign national is outside of the US. If outside the US, the foreign national should apply for an E-2 visa on his or her own behalf directly to a US consular office abroad.
The following is a list of some documents that should be included in the E-2 visa petition. The list is not all inclusive and specific details pertaining to your application should be discussed with a licensed attorney in detail. Additional documents may be necessary depending on the specific case. The list includes but is not limited to the following items:
Beneficiary's Biographical Documents
- A passport valid for travel to the U.S. with a validity date at least six months beyond the alien's intended period of stay;
- Any US visas issued to the applicant with corresponding I-94;
- Two photographs for each member listed in the visa application;
Applying at a U.S. Consulate Abroad
- Form DS -160, Nonimmigrant Visa Application (if applying at a U.S. Consulate abroad);
- Form DS-156E, Treaty Trader Application (if applying at a U.S. Consulate abroad);
- Application fee/payment receipt;
Supporting Documents May Include:
- Documents that establishing identity of the company's nationality;
- Letter from employer detailing aliens position, specialized qualifications and skills that make his services essential to the efficient operation of the enterprise;
If Establishing a New US Business
- Articles of incorporation/organization filed with the Secretary of State;
- Proof of Employer Identification Number with the IRS;
- Corporate Bank account;
- Required business license (if applicable)
- City Tax License;
- Seller’s permit (if applicable by law);
- Corporate documents: Bylaws/Operating Agreement, organizational minutes, ledger and stock certificates issued;
If Acquiring an Existing Business
- Articles filed and corporate documents;
- Purchase agreement;
- Transfer of ownership / stock certificates and updated ledger;
- Tax returns/Federal and State (last 4 quarters);
- Financial statements;
- Loss & Profit Balance;
- Payroll statements;
- List of employees;
Evidence of Investment
- Lease agreement for the business premises (corporate offices, store, restaurant);
- Receipt from payment of the rent;
- Utility bills;
- Proof that you set up Telephone, Internet and Power in your new location (bills or account confirmation);
- Invoices and Receipts of all the purchases made for the business (decoration, equipment, tools, reparation, renovation, inventory etc.);
- Clients Orders / Letters of Intent to do business;
- Evidence of assets of business (if applicable);
- Contract entered into with vendors (if applicable);
- Proof of payroll set up;
- Color Photographs of business;
- List of employees, social security numbers, legal status, positions;
- Business plan/projections;
Source of Money:
- Foreign Bank statements 4-5 months prior to the wire transfer;
- Foreign Wire Transfer(s), copies of the original order for the wire;
- Foreign Bank statement(s) showing money being withdrawn (wired);
- Property Deed(s) if loan money is involved;
- Letter of Employer, family member or any relevant person to confirm source of funds
- Personal Statement stating the source of the money – where did the money come from;
Evidence of Wire Transfer to the US:
- Actual wire transfer/bank report (copy) showing money entering the United States and to your U.S. Bank;
- Bank statement(s) showing deposit(s);
- Current Bank Statement(s) (9-12 months of statements), if new start-up business all Bank Statements;
Duration of Stay and Extensions
A treaty trader may be admitted for an initial period of no more than 2 years. The spouse and minor children accompanying the principal treaty trader shall be admitted for the period during which the principal is in valid treaty trader status.
Extensions of stay can be granted in increments of two years, with no outer limit on the total period of stay for the alien. A treaty trader or treaty investor in valid E status may apply for an extension of stay by filing an application for extension of stay on Form I-129 and E Supplement, with required accompanying documents. There are no quota restrictions for E-2 visas. Spouses of E-2 visa holders are also eligible to accept employment in the United States.
The immigration business plan is a unique document because it is drafted for a specified audience. The only person reading the plan will be the reviewer at the immigration service center or a consulate. These civil servants start each day with a stack of visa applications. The document on the top of the pile of papers is the business plan. The quality of the business submission will set the tone for the evaluation of the visa application.