The United States offers many different opportunities for entrepreneurs and business investors to grow their businesses and expand their operations into the country in a way that benefits the American economy and generates jobs for U.S. workers. The E-2 visa is one of the most sought-after visas for foreign-born citizens looking to live and work in the United States while expanding their enterprises. The attorneys at Stelmakh & Associates, LLC explain what you need to know about E-2 visas and why working with an attorney can make the E-2 visa application process more manageable.

What Can You Do With an E-2 Visa in the United States?

An E-2 visa holder can live and work in the United States while owning and operating a business. This includes opening a new business, purchasing an existing business, or investing in an existing business. In other words, you may not only invest in a business but also work for the company you are creating or investing in and generate income for yourself and your family.

Additionally, an E-2 visa holder may bring their employees into the United States to work for their business. The visa also allows the visa holder’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to live and study in the United States. The spouse of an E-2 visa holder may also apply for work authorization to obtain employment in the United States.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an E-2 Visa?

The E-2 visa comes with several benefits as well as drawbacks that must be considered by anyone thinking about applying for this visa category. An E-2 investor may be able to obtain a visa by making a substantial investment in a business, but there are no required minimum investment amounts. Once the investor receives the E-2 visa, they and their spouse and unmarried children under 21 may live and study in the country and, in many states, may qualify for in-state tuition rates. Additionally, the E-2 investor may travel outside the United States and re-enter the country many times as long as their visa is still valid.

On the other hand, the E-2 is not a green card and is considered a temporary, nonimmigrant visa. That means that the visa holder must leave the country once their visa expires. If they wish to remain in the country, they may apply for a renewal or may need to apply for a different visa. If the business enterprise they invested in fails, they may need to leave the country regardless of whether their visa will expire soon or not.

What Is Considered a Substantial Investment to Qualify for an E-2 Visa?

It is interesting to note that the E-2 visa does not require a set minimum investment amount. However, the applicant must show that the amount they intend to invest constitutes a “substantial investment.” In general, a USCIS officer may use a proportionality test to determine if the applicant is making a substantial investment in the business.

This is typically done by comparing the total value of the business (usually its purchase price) with the total amount of money you are planning to invest. If the business value is low (for example, less than $100,000.00), a substantial investment may mean almost 100% of the value of the business. However, if the business has a high valuation and is worth millions of dollars, for example, an investment of 50% of the value of the company may be enough. An E-2 attorney can help you determine the right investment amount for your case.

How Long Will It Take To Obtain an E-2 Visa?

The E-2 visa can usually take a few months, depending on whether you are applying for the visa through consular processing in your home country or an adjustment of status if you are already in the United States. In general, getting help from a skilled E-2 attorney can make the entire application process smoother and more efficient, reducing the chances that your application would contain any mistakes or have missing information that would cause unnecessary delays.

If you are interested in an E-2 visa or have questions about investing in a business in the United States, contact Stelmakh & Associates, LLC at 206-558-6288.

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