Options for Entrepreneurs: E-2
E-2 is a non-immigrant visa based on the applicant’s investment in U.S. business. The investment can be done either by purchasing business opportunities of existing businesses or by setting up a new business in the U.S.
There is no limit with regard to the amount of investment. Instead, the amount should be a substantial amount to purchase and run a business or to establish a new business.
Appraisal of business value and listing prices of the similar business opportunity would be good standards.
This E-2 option is available only to the citizens of the countries that have an E-2 treaty with the U.S. You can find the list of such treaty countries from this link: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html
Once approved, you get a 2-year or 5-year E-2 visa, depending on the consular officer’s judgment. In some cases, 2-year visas were granted to the Investors when that was their first time applying for the E-2 visas.
Upon entry to the U.S., you will be granted 2-year status which has to be renewed before the end of the 2-year period. Investors can renew their status either by filing Form I-129 with USCIS or by leaving and re-entering the U.S. while their E-2 visas are valid.
For smooth renewal, Investors have to show profits of their E-2 businesses and the fact that they have been hiring employees and paying taxes properly. It is great that E-2 renewals do not have any limit, meaning you can renew your E-2 status indefinitely as long as you maintain your E-2 business.
E-2 visa and E-2 status are two different matters, and it can be confusing. We would recommend you to consult with your attorney for E-2 renewals.
Spouses and children under the age of 21 of E-2 Investors get their own E-2 visa. It is remarkable that spouses of E-2 Investors have employment authorization and can work for any employers not limited to the E-2 business, in contrast to E-2 Investors whose employment authorization is limited to their own E-2 businesses.
Children of E-2 Investors can maintain their E-2 statuses only until they turn 21. They need to change their E-2 statuses to other non-immigrant statuses before turning 21. Oftentimes the children choose to change their statuses to F-1 if they are attending colleges.
Unfortunately, E-2 itself is not connected to permanent residency, often called “a green card.” For this reason, if you are planning to live and work in the U.S. permanently, you need to find another path to permanent residency, such as an employment-based green card. With this limitation in mind, overall, E-2 is a good option for entrepreneurs who are interested in and have passion for running their own businesses in the U.S., and would function as a good first step for your journey of U.S. immigration.