The E-2 is a non-immigrant visa that allows a person to enter and live in the United States based on a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business that he or she will be managing and controlling while in the country. The E-2 visa allows an individual to obtain permanent residence through self-employment. There are a number of requirements that must be fulfilled in order for a person to qualify for an E-2 visa.
This type of visa is only available to a foreign national, partnership, or corporate entity of a country with which the U.S. has a treaty of commerce and navigation. The most recent addition to this list is Israel, which signed a treaty with the U.S. in early 2019. The applicant must be entering to work in the U.S. for a business that he or she owns or that is at a minimum owned by other nationals of the country of origin. The individual must be either the owner of the business or have a prominent role, such as an executive, manager, or supervisor. The applicant or the company must have made a substantial investment in the U.S. business. The U.S. company must be actively involved in commercial activities and meet the applicable legal requirements for doing business in its state or region, and the applicant must intend to return to his or her home country when the business in the U.S. is complete.
An investment is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as the investor’s placing of capital, including monetary funds or assets, at risk in the commercial sense with the goal of making a profit. The capital must be at a risk of total or partial loss if the investment proves to be unsuccessful. The investment cannot be passive, such as a stock or land that is not developed. The applicant must demonstrate that the funds have been lawfully obtained and not through any direct or indirect criminal activity.
E-2 visa holders are allowed to stay in the U.S. for a maximum initial stay of two years. Individuals can request an extension of stay for additional increments of two years each. One benefit of the E-2 visa is that there is no maximum number of extensions that an applicant can be granted. An E-2 visa holder who travels outside the U.S. may generally be granted an automatic two-year readmission when he or she returns to the United States.
Dependents of an E-2 visa holder, such as a spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21, may receive visas in order to accompany the principal visa holder. Spouses of E-2 visa holders may seek work authorization by filing Form I-765 with the appropriate fees. If the work authorization application is granted, the spouse is free to work where he or she desires.
Obtaining an E-2 treaty trader visa can be a long and complicated process. If you wish to seek this type of visa, it is best to seek the advice of a qualified immigration lawyer who can assess the merits of your case and help with the appropriate paperwork.