5 Top Questions from E2 Visa Investors
How much money should I invest?
This is by far the most popular question of applicants and albeit a simple and important one, there is no straight answer. The regulations do not state a specific amount required to invest. So there is no “magic” number. The regulations do, however, require that the applicant invest a “substantial amount.”
The amount of money required to invest would depend on what type of enterprise or business the investor is seeking to set up. For example, if the investor is trying to build a hotel, the “substantial amount” of money required to invest would be very different than setting up a consulting company, which would, arguably, require not more than a computer and a desk.
Therefore, in order to determine whether the investment is “substantial”, U.S. Consulates and USCIS use a proportionality test, which expects the applicant to put 100% of the money at risk if the investment is small. For example, if cost to set up a restaurant requires $100,000, the applicant would be expected to show that 100% of the investment was put at risk at the time of application. On the other hand, if the total investment is 1 million dollars, then the initial investment of $200,000 would arguably be sufficient.
I have transferred the money into my business bank account and it is ready to be spent. I am ready to submit my E-2 visa application?
An important requirement to be eligible for an E-2 visa is to put the investment “at risk.” Although you may want to show the US Consulate that you are ready to invest, the US Consulate nor USCIS will see it that way. Your money is not “at risk” when it sits in your business bank account. Therefore, you must show that the money has been spent or committed while setting up the newly created business. If you are buying an existing business, you can put the money in escrow with a legal mechanism to release the funds upon the issuance of the E visa.
On the other hand, if you choose to start your own business from scratch, you must show the US Consulate that you have irrevocably put your money at risk by spending it in setting up your enterprise. Your expenses and planning have to reach a point of no return and show that you are committed to continue investing in the newly created business.
Can I come to the US as a B-1 visa to start to set up my business?
You can certainly use this kind of visa to look for office space, sign or negotiate leases, hire legal counsel and an accountant to assist in setting up your business, secure funding, opening bank accounts and attend meetings in connection with the new business.
However, there are certain activities that will draw a red flag to the US Consulate or USCIS such as: paying yourself a salary from the new business, or having any other compensation from a US source aside from reimbursement for business expenses. The intent to hold a B-1 should be temporary in nature and you should always show intent to return to your home country. B-1 should not be used to carry-on day to day activities of your new business and it is advisable that you hire a manager to do it for you to avoid any issues with the US Consulate or USCIS.
How long can I stay in the US as a E2 visa holder?
Your length of stay on E2 depends on your country of nationality and the US Department of State publishes this reciprocity schedule on their website. The maximum time allowed is 5 years. You can continue renewing your E2 indefinitely every 2 years as long as the terms of employment and E visa qualifications remain the same.
What are other limitation of E2 visas?
Although you are able to renew your visa indefinitely, you can only work for the specific E2 visa employer or self-employed business to which it served as a sponsor for that visa. If you want to invest in other business opportunities or work for a different employer, then you will need to submit a new application.