E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
The E-2 Treaty Investment Visa allows business people from specific countries to operate in the United States. The E-2 non-immigrant category requires less investment and no job creation. Although creation of jobs is expected and is a positive factor, it is not required. In many ways, the E-2 classification is similar to a green card. The holder of an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, his/her family, and employees are allowed to enter and leave the US as much as needed, as long as the business exists. E-2 holders may engage in self-employment (in furtherance of the qualifying investment), may remain in the US for an indefinite period by extending their status every two years, and are not required to maintain ties to their home country.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa: Requirements
1) The applicant must be a citizen of the treaty country. E-2 is a treaty-based visa, which means that there must be an existing E-2 treaty between the United States and the applicant’s country. The current list includes: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
2) The investor must have possession and control of the funds invested. This means that the applicant must own at least 50% of the business entity. Therefore, two owners of the same entity can apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, but not three.
3) The applicant must prove the legal source of funds. The source of the funds does not need to be outside the US, i.e. it can be a gift from someone in the US. But it must be demonstrated that the funds came from a legal source. The applicant must establish a clear link (chain of transfer) between the source and the funds invested.
What does this mean? For example, if the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa applicant is using proceeds from the sale of his property in his home country, it will not be enough to simply show that there was a sale of property. To demonstrate the lawful source of funds, the applicant must show all of the following: (i) Documents evidencing the ownership of the property sold; (ii) Documents evidencing sale of the property; (iii) Bank statements and deposit/wire transfer slips (certified) showing that the money from the sale were deposited to an account when the sale occurred, e.g. the applicant’s personal account in his/her country; (iv) Bank statements and certified wire-transfer slips from the
applicant’s personal account abroad (or in the US– it doesn’t matter) to the US account of the E-2 business. (v) Any other documents showing the chain of custody of funds.
In the case of a cash transaction, it is highly advisable to at least use a safe deposit box for the cash. In short, there must be some sort of documentation showing the trace of the specific funds used in the E-2 business.
4) The investment must involve risk. This means that just putting the money in a bank account or buying real estate does not qualify as an investment under the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa scheme. It must involve some enterprise, and be an active business that involves risk, i.e. a business that can be closed if things do not go well.
5) The investment must be committed. This means that one cannot just show money in a bank account and claim it is an investment. The money must be either spent for the business, or there must be contracts with customers or vendors showing commitment.
6) The business must be a real commercial undertaking. This means that we need to show that the business is not created solely for immigration purposes, but rather for purposes of profit and development. This requirement is satisfied by proving that business is being undertaken, that an office has been leased, an entity formed, equipment purchased, a business plan exists, contracts are signed, etc. Promising to do these things is not enough.
7) The investment must be substantial. There is no special figure. This amount may vary depending on the type of business. Typically, $100,000 or more is substantial enough.
8) Investment must not be marginal. This means that the E2 Treaty Investor Visa holder must have bigger plans, i.e. the business is not only to earn a living, but is expected toexpand and grow. This is done by preparing a business plan, and providing evidence the business will continue growing. The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa applicant must also demonstrate that she has sufficient financial support, other than the E-2 business, to support his/her family. This is needed to make sure that the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa holder or his/her family do not become a public liability if the business fails.
9) Finally, the investor must have the ability to develop and direct the business. This is proven by showing evidence of the investor’s prior experience, education and skills relevant to managing the intended business.
I.S. LAW FIRM, PLLC provides services from the beginning of the process to the final point. We can establish a business entity, negotiate agreements, draft contracts, and handle the entire immigration process for the investor and his/her family.