FAQ : Frequently Asked Questions
Can I qualify for an E-2 visa?
Yes, if you are a citizen of the many countries that have the required trade treaty with the States. You need to show ties to the home country.
How much do I have to invest?
There is no stated minimum and figures will vary greatly between a business purchase, a franchise purchase or a start-up business.
Is the amount I invest the only factor for visa approval?
No. It's just one of the many factors taken into consideration. You will need to show the venture will provide more than just an income to support you and your family, and has the capacity to employ US workers.
Do I have to find the business before I make a visa application?
Yes. Your application will be based on the specific business. A signed purchase agreement needs to be provided as part of the documentation.
Can I get an E-2 visa for a start-up business?
Yes. You will need to prove the various expenditure required for set up and convince the Embassy that the business will be profitable and employ US workers.
What kind of businesses qualify?
All types could qualify as long as they show the criteria required.
Do franchises qualify for E-2 visas?
Yes. The same criteria apply, whether it is a new franchise or a franchised business already in operation.
Must I have all the money available prior to the application being made?
Yes. The Embassy will want to see funds irrevocably committed to the business purchase. The purchase funds will be shown as in an independent Escrow account in the US for the application.
How do I go about applying for an E-2 visa?
As a resident of a qualifying country, your application will be submitted to an American Embassy or Consulate in that home country. Each E-2 application has to be thoroughly documented with supporting paperwork, the necessary forms and a comprehensive explanatory letter.
What are my chances of success?
It depends on the quality of the business, the preparation of the application and ensuring all the documents are Embassy acceptable. If the business meets all requirements and the application is well put together, there is a great chance you will be approved.
What happens to the funds I have invested if the application is refused?
There should always be a contingency clause in the purchase agreement, stating that the purchase is subject to the provision of an E-2 visa.
What happens if I sell my business?
You will be no longer eligible to remain in the US on E-2 status.
What if I have a criminal conviction?
It depends on the nature of the conviction. Minor offences may not cause a problem but all convictions must be clearly stated in the application.
Will I ever qualify for a Green Card?
The E2 is non-immigration visa so will never qualify for immigrant status. However, there are other ways that Green Card can be achieved.
Is the E-2 my only option?
Maybe. It depends on a number of factors. The possibility of an alternative route should be fully investigated.
For most applicants the E-2 visa route will be the only option, but if there is a home country business that is large enough and will be kept operational the L-1 intra company transfer visa may be an option.
What are the benefits of an L-1 visa over an E-2 treaty investor visa?
An L-1 petition for application and renewal gets approved in the US, unlike the E-2 visa, and allows you to apply for a Green Card after the first renewal.
Do I qualify for L-1 visa?
The US Company you transfer to must be a branch, subsidiary, affiliate or joint venture partner of the home country employer or business, set up with exactly the same ownership as the home country business, and the position must be as a manager, executive or person with specialized knowledge and skills.
Can I extend my stay on L-1 visa?
You can apply for L1 extension using a Form I-129, and an L Supplement. Initial applications usually give a one year time period and extensions of two years at a time may be allowed with a renewal application.