About the E-2 visa
An E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa which allows foreign nationals from a treaty country who made substantial investment funds to a new business, existing business, or franchise business in the U.S. to go to the country to direct or develop such business.
This visa doesn’t give the investor permanent residency compared to an EB5 visa, but they may stay in the U.S. for an indefinite period provided that they continue to satisfy the requirements.
E2 visa Requirements Singaporeans Need to Know
The requirements for an E2 visa are strict, so it’s highly recommended that you seek the guidance of an experienced E2 visa lawyer to help you throughout your application. These requirements must be proved before the adjudication officer so you can acquire the visa, and with the help of your E2 visa lawyer, you can increase the chances of your application getting approved.
One of the main requirements to obtain an E2 visa is that you must be a national of a treaty country. A treaty country, as defined, is a country which has a treaty of commerce or navigation or a qualifying bilateral agreement with the U.S., or is otherwise qualified by law. Should you have dual citizenship, you can choose which nationality to use when applying for a visa provided they are both treaty countries.
As it stands, Singapore is a treaty country as it maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S.
If your foreign is making the business, it will be the one considered as the E2 treaty investor. Its nationality will be determined based on the individual owners and must be at least 50% owned by nationals of the treaty country.
Investment Capital Requirement
Your investment must be substantial
Compared to other visas, the E2 visa doesn’t have a specific minimum amount of investment required. However, to be considered substantial, the investment must be proportional to the nature of the investment enterprise.
You have invested or are actively in the process of making an investment
It is required that the investment is not merely sitting in your business bank account but is repeatedly placed at risk in a commercial sense. The funds must be real and irrevocably committed and you must be near the start of operations rather than merely starting to sign contracts.
Your investment must be made in a functioning commercial enterprise
The investment enterprise must be active, real, and operating which produces goods and services for profit. Generally, your business should require executive oversight daily.
Your investment must not be made in a marginal enterprise
Aside from the investment enterprise being active, real, and operating, it must also not be a marginal enterprise. This means that the E2 business has the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for you and your family members, and must also have a significant economic contribution to the U.S., for example, by providing full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
You must have control over the investment funds and assume risks
Another requirement is that you must be in control of the funds and that you bear the risk of the investment you made. You must prove to the adjudicating officer that you own at least 50% of the enterprise and that you can direct and develop the business activities.
You intend to leave the U.S. once your visa expires
Since the E2 visa is classified as a non-immigrant visa, it doesn’t confer permanent residency status to the treaty investor and their family members. You must show that you will leave the U.S. as soon as your visa expires.
Requirements for the E2 Employee
Qualified employees are also allowed to acquire an E2 employee visa provided that they meet the following requirements:
They share the same nationality as the treaty investor
They are going to work in the E2 enterprise in an executive or managerial position or have specialist or essential skills for the operations of the business
They will leave the U.S. once their visa requires
However, even before the employee can acquire this visa, all the requirements for the E2 enterprise must be first met.
Benefits of an E2 visa
As with non-immigrant visas, the E2 visa gives you benefits which you can enjoy once you have a valid E2 visa:
You can work in the investment enterprise
You have the freedom to travel in and out of the U.S.
You can indefinitely stay in the U.S. as long as you meet the eligibility requirements
Your dependent family members can accompany you and stay with you in the U.S.
Your children can have access to U.S. education
Your spouse can work in the U.S. without the need to secure an employment authorization document (EAD) as they are already considered authorized from their valid E status according to the recent USCIS policy update.
Qualifications for an E2 visa
There are qualifications that you must satisfy to be able to acquire an E2 visa:
You must invest a substantial amount of capital in a new business, existing business, or franchise business in the U.S. There is no minimum amount of investment required, but to be considered substantial, it must be proportional to the nature of the business.
You must be a national of a country which has a qualifying treaty with the U.S. If you’re a national of a non-treaty country, you also have the option to acquire citizenship from a treaty country. But if you’re married to a national of a treaty country, then you can also be qualified for an E2 visa provided you acquire citizenship from their country.
If you’re an immediate family member of an E2 visa holder or a key employee of an E2 business, you are also qualified for the visa. The employee must show certain requirements to be able to acquire an E2 visa such as having the same nationality as the treaty investor, assuming an executive, managerial or essential skill position, and intent to leave the U.S. once their visa expires.
Processing Times for an E2 visa
The processing time for an E2 visa is dependent on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you have applied. Generally, it takes 2 weeks to 5 months for your application to be processed.
If you are staying in the U.S. under a valid visa, you can apply to change status with the USCIS. You can cut down the time of the processing of your application to 15 days by opting for premium processing after paying $2,500.
Drawbacks of an E2 visa
You lose your treaty investor status when your business ceases
Your treaty investor status is banked on the business, so once your business ceases you’ll lose your status.
You can’t work for anyone other than the E2 enterprise
You’re not allowed to work for anyone other than the E2 business you have invested in. This is because one of the requirements of the visa is that you prove that you will direct and develop the enterprise in the U.S.
You can be denied a renewal if your business is struggling
Although the E2 visa has unlimited renewals, the renewal may be denied if your business is struggling or barely successful. Moreover, even if your visa has not yet expired, there’s a chance you may leave the U.S. if your business fails.
You can only obtain the visa if you’re a national of a treaty country
Compared to other investment-based visas, the E2 visa has a rigorous requirement when it comes to nationality. You must be a national of one of the E2 treaty countries to qualify.
You can stay temporarily
The E2 visa can be renewed for up to two years indefinitely as long as you meet the requirements, however, this doesn’t mean this would lead you to a permanent residency status. If you want to acquire a green card, you need to apply for another visa which would grant you such status.
Is there a minimum investment required for an E2 visa?
There is no required minimum investment to qualify for an E2 visa, however, it is required that you invest a substantial amount of funds. The substantiality is determined depending on the nature or type of the business you have invested in.
What are the essential characteristics of an E2 visa?
The E2 visa is a temporary visa given to foreign nationals of treaty countries who have invested a substantial amount of capital in a new business, existing business, or franchise business in the U.S. This means the visa will not confer permanent residency status to treaty investors and is valid only for a temporary period.
What is the period of stay for an E2 visa?
Once approved, your E2 visa confers a 2-year period of stay which you can extend indefinitely in increments of 2 years as long as you still satisfy the requirements.
Can I bring my family members with me to the U.S.?
Yes, your dependent family members such as your spouse (even same-sex spouse) and unmarried children under the age of 21 can go and stay with you in the U.S. It’s not required that they have the same nationality as you, as compared to an E2 employee.
Can I bring key employees with me to the U.S.?
Yes, you are allowed to bring an executive, managerial or essential skilled employee with you under your valid E2 visa provided that the employee bears the same nationality as yours, meets the definition of an employee under the relevant law, and possesses the required position and skill relevant to your business operation.
Can I acquire a green card with my E2 visa?
Since the E2 visa is classified as a nonimmigrant visa, you can’t acquire a green card or permanent residency status with it. Moreover, it is also not considered a dual intent visa. For you to acquire a green card, you must apply for other visas which grant you such status such as the EB5 immigrant investor visa.
A US immigration lawyer for Singaporeans can help you determine the right path for your immigration goals and needs depending on your circumstances.
Are there any alternative options for an E2 visa?
Another investment-based visa is the EB5 visa, which gives you a direct path to a green card. You also have the option to apply for an E1 visa, which applies to treaty traders carrying substantial trade to the U.S.
Do I lose my status once my business fails?
Yes, once your business ceases its operations, you become ineligible for the E2 visa and you lose your status as a treaty investor because your application is based on the existence of the E2 business.
Can I change my status to E2 if I’m already in the U.S. under another visa?
Yes, you can change your status to E2 as long as you meet the requirements for the visa. You would just need to fill out a Form I-129 and submit it to the USCIS together with supporting relevant documents providing your qualifications.
Am I allowed to work in the U.S. under my E2 visa?
Yes, but only under the E2 business where you have invested in. Aside from the E2 business, you are not allowed to work for any business.
How do I extend my E2 visa?
If you are still eligible based on the E2 visa requirements, your business still operating, and you’re not violating any rule or law, you may extend your visa by submitting a Form DS-160 along with supporting documents.
Can I apply for an E2 visa despite having been denied a U.S. visa before?
Yes, you may still apply for an E2 visa despite being previously denied a U.S. visa as this is not one of the disqualifications in obtaining the visa.
If you want to acquire an E2 visa, you can start by consulting with a US immigration lawyer for Singaporeans who can help you determine the perfect option for your current circumstances, immigration goals, and financial capacity.