What is the E-2 Visa?

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the E-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals from specified treaty countries to enter the United States to invest a significant amount of capital in a U.S. business. This type of visa is designed to promote foreign investment and facilitate the movement of individuals who contribute to the U.S. economy.

Who is Eligible for the E-2 Investor Visa?

There are certain criteria required for any person planning to move to the United States with an E-2 visa. Although specific eligibility requirements may vary depending on an individual basis, basic qualifications are as follows:

  • Nationality: The applicant must be a citizen of a country with a treaty of commerce and navigation or a bilateral investment treaty with the United States. A list of eligible countries can be found here through the U.S. Department of State.
  • Substantial investment: The applicant must be prepared to invest a substantial amount of revenue in a United States business. This investment must be sizeable enough to ensure the business’s success, and the amount that is considered “substantial” can vary depending on factors such as the type of business and its scale.
  • Active management: The applicant typically plays an active role in the management of the U.S. business. An example of an active role could mean the applicant has control and ownership of at least 50% of the enterprise, is involved in making major decisions, or oversees day-to-day operations.
  • Business type: The investment must be in a bona fide enterprise, and the business should not be marginal. The business must have the capacity to generate more than sufficient income to provide a nominal living for the investor and their dependents.
  • Source of funds: Similar to ensuring that the business is a legitimate and legal venture, the visa applicant must demonstrate that the funds invested into the business have a legitimate source. This is done to establish that the money used for the venture was obtained through legal means.

How Can I Apply For the E-2 Visa?

It is possible to apply for an E-2 visa while already in the United States, while on a separate visa, or while outside the country. Below, we will discuss the various ways to apply.

Applying From Within the United States

Applicants who legally reside within the United States may choose to change their status to an E-2 visa by filling a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. An investment plan will also be required. The application process usually takes around five months, though this period may be shorter or longer depending on various circumstances.

Individual investors will file for the petition themselves. Applicants who are part of a company will have an employer to file Form I-129 on their behalf. The USCIS will then deny or approve the application. For approved applications, Form I-797, Approval Notice, will be provided.

The filing of Form I-129 costs $460 or $1,440 to file using a premium express service. The express services ensure processing within 15 calendar days but do not increase approval chances.

Applying From Outside the United States

This is the most common way to apply for an E-2 visa, and it is done directly through the U.S. consulates abroad. First, the applicant must file Form DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, which costs $205 to submit. Most embassies or consulates require a minimum of two to three months to review the application, though procedures and timing vary from country to country. 

Once the application has been reviewed, then the applicant will make an appointment at the embassy or consulate for an interview. If the E-2 application is approved, then the passport is typically returned to the applicant within five to ten days.

If the applicant has a criminal record, he or she must bring all official court documents, such as a final court disposition, arrest report, or incident report that outlines the offense, penalty, probation, or other dispositions. When an applicant has a criminal record or other prior immigration violations, this can severely impact visa issuance processing times and may disqualify the applicant from entering the United States.

What Documents are Required to Apply for the E-2 Visa?

Additional documents needed to apply for the E-2 Visa include the following:

  • DS-160 form
  • Passport
  • Two photographs in color, taken within the last six months, with a plain background
  • The payment receipt of $205
  • Form DS-156E, if applying as an executive, manager, or essential employee
  • Proof of plans to return to home country, such as:
    • Property deeds, apartment leases, etc
    • Business documents
    • Business licenses and registration documents
    • Financial statements
    • Office lease agreements
    • Organizational chart
    • Tax returns
    • Bank statements
    • Employees and client contracts
    • Business plan

What Does Seattle Offer E-2 Visa Holders?

Seattle has become a booming hub of enterprise, with a dynamic blend of technology, trade, and a flourishing art scene. Home to business giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle offers a competitive edge for ambitious businesses.

Seattle offers a robust tech industry, port access for international trade, a highly educated workforce, and strong support for green businesses. The city is ideal for technology ventures, environmental startups, manufacturing, and export businesses, especially those focused on sustainability. 

Do I Need an Attorney?

If you are overwhelmed by the immigration process and paperwork but would like to invest in Seattle’s economy, let Stelmakh & Associates do the hard work for you. Call us at 206-605-0550 or schedule a consultation today.

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