A very useful visa for many business people throughout the world is the treaty investor visa – the E2 visa.
The basic use of an E2 visa is for a person to enter the U.S. (for indefinite time); based upon treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation, or other arrangement between the U.S. and the county of applicant’s nationality; and the person is entering solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which the alien has invested, or is actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide enterprise.
There are a few key considerations to take in to account when approaching the use of the E2 visa.
- Nationality of the Investor: The person entering the U.S. on the E2 visa must be a national of the treaty country. This excludes permanent residents of the treaty county, but does allow for people with dual nationality to benefit from the visa.
- Investment: The investment must be “at risk,” and in the possession and control of the investor. This means the capital must be subject to potential loss if the investment fails. Unacceptable funds include commercial loans, inheriting a business (even though you can use inherited money), and third party money’s. The funds must also be free from any connection to criminal activity.
- Substantiality of Investment: The Department of State uses a relative/proportionality test to determine if the investment is substantial. First, they weigh the amount of funds invested against the total cost of purchasing or creating the business, second, they consider the amount normally invested to ensure the success of the type of enterprise, and third, they consider the magnitude of the investment and the likelihood the investor with successfully develop the enterprise.
- Develop and Direct: The investor must be managing the business, and have a controlling interest in the business. Majority ownership of stock may not be sufficient if investor cedes control over the business to managers.
How Much Money?
The biggest question when wishing to obtain an E2 visa is the amount of money necessary for investment. The best way to approach this is to consider the startup costs of the business and how much is substantial compared to that amount.
For example, if you are starting a real estate company, the initial investment is going to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Therefore, a substantial investment in a real estate company would need to be $150-200 thousand. However, if you are starting a business with a total investment of $75000 a substantial investment might be $40000-$50000.
The other important question is whether or not your country is a treaty county. That information can be found at: travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/fees/treaty.html.