What You Should Know
E-2 Visa is a long-term, non-immigrant work visa that is available to foreign investors who live in countries that have signed an investment treaty with the United States. This investor’s visa can be renewed for as long as the U.S. sponsoring business employs several full-time workers and continues to be profitable.
In order to obtain the E-2 Investor Visa, a substantial investment into an active U.S. business that will be sufficient enough to develop a profit is required. This business must have an important effect to the local community and economy – meaning that it will create jobs for local workers and can employ a minimum of 5 full-timers while earning enough income to realize a profit beyond paying the proprietor’s living wage. In many cases, the consular office issues a first time investor visa for only 2 years but can be renewed if the investor business qualifies. Through the discretion of consular officer Investor visa renewals can be issued.
Advantages of the E-2 Visa:
- Investors from over 75 countries (who have signed an investment treaty with the United States) are allowed to establish, advance and operate a business within the United States.
- There is no minimum investment amount that is required – as long as the investment is enough to establish, develop and operate a profitable business that meets the criteria above.
- Spouse of E-2 Investor will be issued an E-2 dependent visa which can allow the spouse to apply for work authorization based on their E-2 dependent visa.
- Children under 21 of the E-2 Investor will also be issued an E-2 dependent visa and are be able to attend school of their choice (in many states, children can qualify for in-state tuition at State Universities up until they reach the age of 21). Children of E-2 Investor do not qualify for a work visa.
- The E-2 visa holder has the choice of living outside of the United States for unsettled amount of time and can re-enter the country for as long as their visa is valid.
Disadvantages of the E-2 Visa:
- If the invested business is struggling or just barely successful, an E-2 Investor visa renewal is generally denied.
- E-2 visa holder can only work for the business he/she is investing in.
- If the investment business fails, the visa holder must leave the United States even if the allotted 2 years have not expired.
- Children who are over 21 or reach the age of 21 while under their dependent visa must then qualify and apply for a different visa if they wish to stay within the United states.
- The E-2 Investor visas does NOT lead to permanent residency nor does it provide a qualifying basis. Therefor they do not enjoy the benefits of permanent residents. If their business fails or closes, the Investor must apply for another visa if they wish to stay in the country.
Norma Lorenzo, Esq., is the managing partner at Hermanni & Lorenzo Law Group, an Immigration law firm established in Miami since 2008. Ms. Lorenzo has helped hundreds of immigrants with a variety of cases obtain legal status in the United States. She also teaches at Florida International University School of Law.