Residency and Citizenship

E-2 visa Requirements and Advantages, Interview with Our Expert

1/26/2021 8:00:00 AM
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In our goal of finding the best business opportunities and immigration options for our readers, the E-2 visa has a very special place because it combines both. Although it is not an immigrant visa per se, it allows for the possibility of freely entering and leaving the US, sending your children to school and allows the spouse to have a job in the country. The E-2 visa´s main requirement is that the applicant establishes and runs a business in the US. Now, we are going to let our expert talk about the requirements and advantages of this investment visa option. 

-Dear Ron, it is a pleasure to have you as Mundo expert for E-2 visas. We are very excited to present our readers with the unique possibility of running a business in the United States. Firstly, can you please tell me about yourself and your background?

- I have been practicing immigration law for over 30 years. In 2004, I started my current firm with other partners. Our firm now has six partners, 20 attorneys and employs nearly 100 staff members dedicated to US and global immigration through employment or investment.

I have assisted thousands of international investors to reach their goal of living and working in the United States, either through the EB-5 program or the E-2 visa. The E-2 visa has grown in popularity since I pioneered the solution of acquiring a 3rd country citizenship for those from countries without an investment treaty with the United States. 

I also counsel organizations on their immigration programs, like large corporations, startups, universities, hospitals, and research institutions. My firm has developed a large client base particularly in higher education, healthcare, telecommunication, finance, and technology sectors. 

I am proud to work with an amazing staff that has produced creative and innovative work that the firm is now known for.

My partners and I have grown the firm to be able to offer comprehensive immigration solutions for virtually any employment-based or investment-based situation, including challenging delays, denials, policies, or regulations in federal court.

-As far as I understand, only citizens of some countries can apply for E-2 visas, can you please comment?

- That is correct. Only citizens of the approximately 80 countries in the world which have investment treaties with the US can apply for E-2 visas. If someone is not a citizen of one of those countries, it may be possible to obtain citizenship through investment in either Grenada, Turkey, or Montenegro and then apply for an E-2 visa.

-I understand this is not an immigrant visa, can you please tell me the difference between an E-2 and an immigrant visa? What does the E-2 allow?

- An immigrant visa, or a green card, allows someone to remain in the US permanently. An E-2 visa allows someone to stay in the US as long as the business in which the client has invested remains in operation. The basic requirements are: 

  • Being a citizen of a treaty country.
  • Investing in a company in the US in which the investor owns at least 50%.
  • Making a “substantial investment”. There is no exact amount of investment. The amount must be sufficient for the type of business invested in to be successful, grow, and employ people. With some types of businesses, an investment of $100,000 to $200,000 may be sufficient. Other types of businesses require larger investments to be successful. 
  • The investor must either manage the business or hire a manager and then “develop and direct” the business, which means overseeing the activities of the manager. 
  • The business should employ people other than just the investor. However, there is no exact number of employees required. 

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-What are the requirements to apply for an E-2 visa? Which family members can apply? Is there a minimum investment amount required?

- The E-2 visa is issued to the investor and the spouse and under age 21 children of the investor. A spouse of the investor can obtain an employment authorization document, which enables him or her to work in the US for any employer. 

-Are there any restrictions on which activities can the company carry out in the US? Can it carry out activities outside the US?

- There are no restrictions on the type of business activity for the treaty investor business, as long as it is an active commercial enterprise (for example, merely investing in real estate is not an active business). The E-2 business can carry out activities outside of the US.

-What are the minimum stay requirements for the E-2 visa holders? Can a businessperson hold this visa but not be a US tax resident?

- There is no minimum or maximum amount of time that E-2 visa holders can remain in the US. They can spend 100% of their time in the US or very little time in the US as long as they can show that they are still “developing or directing” the business while outside the country. If the investor spends a relatively small amount of time in the US, the investor may be able to avoid taxation as a US resident.

-Does it mean that you can run a business in the US but not be subject to tax on worldwide income?

- If the investor spends a small enough amount of time in the US to avoid being a tax resident, the investor may not be subject to tax on worldwide income. 

-Can an E-2 visa holder change his immigration status eventually? Under which conditions?

- An E-2 visa holder may be able to apply for a US green card, usually through the EB-5 program. The EB-5 program requires an investment of either $900,000 or $1.8 million depending on the geographical area of the investment enterprise. The amount of the E-2 investment is considered part of the amount required for EB-5.

-What are, in your view, the advantages of the E-2 visa and of doing business in the United States?

- There are many advantages of the E-2 visa. It can usually be obtained for 5 years, and it can be extended indefinitely. The application for the E-2 visa can be made directly at a US consulate and does not require any approval from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The spouse of an E-2 visa holder can work anywhere he or she wants in the US and children can go to a public or private school.

It is important to consider that the requirements to obtain an E-2 visa are more flexible than other categories. This visa can be used to set up a subsidiary of an overseas business, acquire an interest in a US business or become an owner of a franchise. The E-2 visa holder is not required to actively manage the business (although the investor can do so). 

If you want more information about the E-2 visa requirements and application, you can contact our expert by clicking the button below. Contact us now and start your business in the US.

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