E2 Treaty Investor Visa U.S | Startup Business Bureau

E2 Treaty Investor Visa

Investors and entrepreneurs planning to invest a small amount of money and establish their own business or invest into a running enterprise as a partner may find the E-2 visa option suitable.

The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for investors, entrepreneurs, and people looking to run a business in the United States. With an E2 visa, you can start a US business or invest in a US business and work for that business.

It is granted for a two-year term and does not lead to the permanent residency status, but there is no limit to the number of times the E-2 visa may be extended (depending on your current citizenship). E-2 visa holders may stay in the U.S. as long as they need, as long as they abide by the conditions of the visa, i.e., while their business is successfully running in the U.S.

Requirements & Benefits of E2:

  • Alien must citizen of a Treaty Investment Country.
  • He/she can buy a running business or start new enterprise or in case of partnership at least own 51% shares of any business.
  • No Point grid means no minimum education requirement, no age limit, no business experience required, and no English proficiency test required.
  • His/her position in the company will be as an Executive, Supervisor OR Essential Employee.
  • The Investment of the company should be substantial.
  • Investment should be from a clear source, own, by selling property or business, inherited money.
  • Applicant can choose any state or territory to live in the US.
  • Can change or expand business.
  • No restriction on business type and no condition on numbers of employees.
  • You can travel freely in and out of the US while on a valid E2 visa.

Eligibility Criteria

There are seven main criteria’s for obtaining an E-2 Principal Investor visa (status):

1. Treaty Country

The applicant must be a citizen of a country that has a relevant treaty with the United States.


2. Ownership

The applicant must own at least 50% of the US business.



3. Develop and Direct

The applicant must develop and direct the business (at least during its initial stage, until managers/supervisors have been hired).

4. Substantial Investment

The applicant must have made a substantial investment in the US business (and show evidence of that investment before applying for the visa). There’s no legal minimum, but the applicant must be putting his capital or assets at risk, and the amount must be substantial relative to the type of business. Usually for small businesses and start-ups the amount invested by the principal investor should be around $100,000. You will need to provide:

  1. Business Plan: A detailed breakdown, or spreadsheet, of all funds invested into the U.S. venture;
  2. Proof of Investment. For example: Signed, dated, valid lease for business premises, including evidence of payments; Evidence of equipment and/or inventory purchases; Evidence of intellectual property or other intangibles invested; and Evidence of any other funds spent to acquire and set up the business;
  3. If you are buying an existing business, please provide a signed, dated, valid purchase agreement; and, if applicable, a binding escrow agreement that explicitly confirms how the funds will be distributed if the visa is issued, what happens when it not issued, and is signed and dated by all parties;
  4. If you are purchasing a franchise, please provide a signed and dated franchise agreement, a copy of your franchise disclosure document and evidence of payment of the franchise fee.
  5. Evidence of how the funds invested into the U.S. venture were acquired in the form of documentation of the original source of the funds (sale of property, inheritance, loans, gift, earnings, sale of business, etc.) and evidence that he funds have been moved to the United States.

5. Real and Operating

The US company must be actively engaged in commercial, for-profit activities and meet the applicable legal requirements for doing business in its state or region.


6. Marginality

The US business must be more than just a marginal enterprise. The new business cannot be merely a means to support the investor. The underlying goal of the treaty investor visa is to create jobs for US workers.

7. Intent to Depart

The applicant must intend to leave the US when his or her business in the US is completed, although the person is not required to maintain a foreign residence abroad. A statement of intent to depart will suffice.

Family of E-2 Treaty Investors and Employees

Treaty investors and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age.  Their nationalities need not be the same as the treaty investor or employee.  These family members may seek E-2 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, generally will be granted the same period of stay as the employee.  If the family members are already in the United States and are seeking change of status to or extension of stay in an E-2 dependent classification, they may apply by filing a single Form I-539 with fee.  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.

Business Categories

There are 3 different ways where you can own a business in USA and qualify for an E2 visa.

1. Buying an Existing Business

You can buy and existing and established independent business or a franchise business and inherit a customer base and current financial situation of the business. In this case, you need to do appropriate due diligence to make sure that the business information provided by seller is actual and the business size satisfies requirements of E2 Visa.




2. Open a New Standalone Business

If you have a business idea and carry the skills and expertise to execute the idea, then you may establish your own business in USA. establishing your own business is more entrepreneurial and have potential for higher returns in future.

For the entrepreneurs who have a limited small budget to establish a business in USA then in my opinion starting your own new business is the best idea. All the initial investment of the business can be controlled and regulated as per the business plan and hence can be justified as substantial to run the business.

3. Open A New Franchise Business

If you are afraid from the uncertainties and risks associated with opening a new business in a new country and specifically United States and prefer to minimize the risk of losing the investment by taking a more reliable route. Franchises are recognized as “already established business models” which most of the time has been “successfully tested” by the franchisor or through other franchisees in the U.S.

There are hundreds of low or medium cost franchises available in US market which ranging between $80K to $120K which has tried and tested business model and perfectly matched with all E2 business investor visa requirements as well.

However, in all the business options, it must be kept in mind that as one of the prerequisites of E2 program, major portion of the investment amount has to be invested or in the process of investing into the business and must be on RISK. Which means in case of visa refusal, if any, the investor has to be ready to bear the losses as the amount invested towards establishing the business up to the qualification criteria may not be recovered.

Nature of Business

Selecting the nature of business is a decision which the investor has to take very carefully. There can be various factors which can help to decide which business is most suitable for an investor to start;

  • What is your education and qualification?
  • What is your current experience?
  • What expertise do you have?
  • What business you can manage well?
  • How much is the investment you want to make?

Investment amount is absolutely depending on the nature of business. Officially there is no minimum amount required by govt. In general, if you choose to start any services business it can be around $50,000.00 and for any Retails or Consumer Businesses it must be around $100,000.00 or more.

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Services Business:

  • IT Consulting & Web Development
  • Marketing Agency
  • Maid Services Company
  • Car Wash & Detailing Services
  • Courier & Delivery Services
  • HR Recruiting & Consulting Firm
  • Event Management
  • Senior Care Business

Retail Business:

  • Gas Station
  • Convenience Store or Grocery Store
  • Restaurant or Café
  • Laundry Shop
  • Gift Shop
  • Mobile Shop
  • Trading Business

These are just examples of businesses. Investor can find anything of its own interest and preferences.

Individual or Business Investment

There are 2 ways to make an E2 investment:

  1. You can make the investment yourself as an individual
  2. Your foreign business can make the investment

If you make the investment as an individual:

You are the E2 investor
Your country of citizenship will determine your nationality

If your foreign business makes the investment:

The foreign business is the E2 investor
The individual owners of the business will determine the nationality of the business
The foreign business must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty country.

US business must be a “bona-fide” enterprise

The business you invest in must be an active and for-profit business.
A passive investment will not qualify.
You cannot invest in a piece of residential real-estate or a stock portfolio.
The business should be engaged in some kind of an entrepreneurial activity such as selling a product or providing a service, for profit.

Your investment is at-risk and is irrevocably committed to the E2 business

To get an E2 visa, your investment must be “irrevocably committed” to the E2 business and must also be “at-risk.”

For this requirement,
we will break it down into 4 parts:

1. Investment
2. Possession and control
3. At-risk
4. irrevocably committed

Investment

For an E2 visa, you must make an actual investment.

This means you must put capital at risk for the purpose of generating a profit.

Investment At-risk

The investment funds must be subject to total loss.

There can be no guarantee that you will get any portion of your investment funds back.

Possession and Control

  • As the E2 investor, you must have possession and control of the funds invested.
  • This becomes an issue with gifts and inheritance.
  • If your investment funds are from a gift, the gifting party must give you the funds, and then you can invest those funds in the E2 business.
  • Someone else cannot invest the funds into the company for you.
  • You cannot inherit a business for an E2 visa.
  • You can inherit capital, which you can then use to invest in a US business, for an E2 visa.

Investment Irrevocably Committed

  • At the time you file your E2 visa application, your investment funds must already be invested or be in the process of being invested in the E2 business.
  • Your business must be close to starting actual business activities
  • Just having the intent to invest is not enough.
  • Just putting the investment funds in a bank account is not enough to qualify for an E2 visa.
  • You can have a reasonable amount of capital in your business operating account which can count toward your E2 investment capital.
  • You can meet the irrevocability standard by placing your investment funds in an escrow account.
  • You can do this by making the release of the funds conditional on the approval of your E2 visa.

E2 Visa Preparation & Process

After all the initial consultation and understanding of E2 visa program you need to hire a business consultant first to fulfil all the requirement of business acquisition and who may coordinate with registered attorney at law for petition filing.

1

Choose the business model which you want to execute, and have it discussed with the consultant.

2

Connect with the seller or franchisor to start the business bargain in case of the existing business or franchise or start the registration process of the business with the help of the consultant.

3

Do a thorough market research and prepare a detailed and extensive business plan.

4

Register the Company and Obtain Tax Identification Number (EIN)

5

Open a Business Bank Account and Transfer the funds to USA and finalize the business deal.

6

Connect with attorney for application preparation.

7

Submit the petition.

8

Be ready for the RFE (request for evidence) form USCIS and an interview in case of consular processing.

9

Visa approved – enjoy your American Dream

10

If Visa Rejected – Explore the appeal options or take decision on the business to run or wind up.

Visa Application Processing Time

Depending on the scope of your business, average duration for documents preparation is up to 6 weeks.

US consulate processing time is average around 3 months to review the petition. After approval it takes almost 1 week to get the visa stamp on the passport.

USCIS offers Premium Processing with an extra fee which reduces the processing time to 15 days.

Initial Documents Requirements

Personal Documents

  • Completed application form
  • A color photocopy the passport
  • Latest updated resume
  • Attested copy of Birth Certificate and Marriage certificate
  • Attested copy of educational certificates

Business Documents

  • Business registration documents
  • Articles of organization
  • Share certificates
  • Operating agreement



Financial Documents

  • Bank Statement
  • Income Proof
  • Tax Returns
  • Audit Reports (if applicable)
  • Proof of Investment
  • Source of Investment


How Can We Help?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

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A – You can choose and pick any business (literally any) as per your background, experience or expertise. Please be reminded that the business category should be the one which you must comfortable with, as you must run and manage it for future.

A – As a mandatory requirement of E2 visa application, funds must be from the legal source and committed towards the E2 business. Which means you must spend and invest the major portion of the funds before the application.

A – If by anyways your E2 petition is rejected or refused, you still own the business which you have created or bought. You can hire employees to manage the business or sale it and recover your investment amount.

However, in some of cases of buying a business, depending on the seller arrangements with seller, you can put the finds in escrow account for a limited time period with a condition of E2 approval. This might be beneficial for you to minimize the risk of losing a major investment in case of denial.

A – To get an E2 visa, your investment must be considered substantial.

The tricky part to this requirement is that there is no set minimum amount that is considered substantial.

To determine whether an investment is substantial, a proportionality test is used.

This means that the amount you invest will be compared with the total cost of a comparable established business.

For example, if you are investing in a restaurant, the amount of your investment will be compared to the total cost of the restaurant.

If you are investing in a brand-new business, the amount of your investment will be compared against the total cost to bring the business to full functionality.

The proportionality test should be viewed as a sliding scale.

  • For lower cost businesses, you should invest 100% of the total cost of the established business.
  • For higher cost businesses, you may invest less than the total cost of the business.

To make things easy, as a rule of thumb, we recommend investing NO LESS than $100,000 for an E2 visa.

This is not a guarantee that $100,000 will satisfy the substantiality requirement. But you certainly should not invest less than $100,000.

A – as a mandatory requirement of E2 funds should have a clear proof of funds (which can be your income, saving, sale of asset or property, inheritance, personal loan or gift) and it must be transferred to USA via official banking channels to match the money trails.

So, once you start the process, you open a corporate bank account in USA and transfer the funds to that account for future expenses.  The account operations will be in your control so will be fully secured.

A – You must be able to show that you have maintained the terms and conditions of your E-2 status and the business is meeting its objectives.

A – You can apply for E2 visa at a US Consulate at the country of your lawful residence (Consular Processing) or do the Change status to E2 visa status while lawfully present in the United States (Change of Status).

A – We as business consultant and your representatives can do all the work to find the business, negotiate with the Seller or Create a new business from the scratch on your behalf by having a Power of Attorney. (PoA).

A – You can sponsor your wife and kids under age 21 years as E2 dependent visa and your spouse may obtain a work authorization too. So, she can work anywhere if she wants.

A – The E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa category. This means that the E2 visa is temporary and does not directly lead to a green card so in order to qualify for a green card you might need to qualify for a separate immigration procedure.

Following are some of the options to qualify for a green card program;

  1. EB-5 Green Card – one of the best routes towards the green card is to qualify for EB5 as most of the E2 requirements including the investment amount and job creation can be counted towards the EB5 contribution.
  2. Family Based – your US citizen close family members can sponsor your green card petition.
  3. Spousal – You may qualify for a green card if you enter into a legitimate marriage with a US citizen.
  4. Employment Based – You may qualify for a green card if a US company offers you a job and sponsors your green card. Or even if your spouse is a working and that company is ready to sponsor your spouse Green Card.
  5. EB-1A – The EB-1A visa is for people with “extraordinary ability.”
  6. EB-1C – The EB-1C visa is for people considered as “multinational managers and executives.”
  7. EB-2 – NIW – With a National Interest Waiver, you can apply for an EB-2 visa without a US company sponsor.

A – The straight answer is No. Unfortunately, if you are visiting USA on B1, B2, ESTA visa waiver or Canadian visitor, you are not allowed to work for your own business. Only things which you are allowed to do is to make investment related and/or business setup activities.

A – Work related activities in general are day-to-day business operations activities that are required to keep a business running such as selling or customer service.

While the business setup activities are more of business regulatory work, infrastructural planning and design and preparing the strategies and documentations.

As an example; if your business is a coffee shop, you may establish and construct the café but cannot serve the clients or work as cashier.

  • Finding a business opportunity
  • Business set up and registration
  • Opening a business bank account
  • Hiring an attorney
  • Attend meeting and seminars
  • Consult with business associates
  • Negotiate a contract
  • Lease an office or workplace
  • Hire US employees

A – In order to secure your E-2 visa it is always helpful to have relevant business experience. However, if you have a good business plan clearly outlining your ideas from all business perspectives like operations, marketing, and finances showing your precise planning and preparation, you can overcome the deficit of lack of experience.

A – 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.

A – 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.

A – there can be maximum of 2 partners with 50% shares each can join the business and sponsor their families for E2 Visa.

A – The source of your investment funds must be lawful.

This means that you must have lawfully obtained the funds you use for your E2 investment.

Examples of lawful funds include:

  • Income earned from lawful employment
  • Income from the sale of a property
  • Income from the sale of a business
  • An unsecured loan
  • A loan secured by your personal assets
  • A gift
  • An inheritance

A – We don’t leave our clients alone on their life changing journey. We offer business accelerator program we assist and guide in training, advising and even managing your business until you become confident enough to manage it yourself.

A – We as business consultants offer a complete range of services from scratch till end including but not limited to;

  • Business Planning
  • Finding a suitable business as per your requirements
  • Establish a new company and set up the whole business
  • Application preparation
  • Appointing an attorney
  • Business Advisory

A – E2 visa approval is on the sole discretion of the adjudicator reviewing your petition and nobody can ever give any guarantee of approval. However, hiring a qualified business consultant and competent immigration attorney at law can minimize the risk of denial because of experience and expertise.

A – Our service fee for business services is depends on the scope of services. However, 50% of any fee to be paid at the time of signing the contract and balance 50% at the time of application submission. 

For a complete business accelerator program package, pls contact us.

A – Sign the service agreement, pay the initial fee and we start preparing the business visa application.

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