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E2 visas:Investors and Employees of the same nationality



The E2 Visa  


allows the investor to live and work in the United States to run and grow their business. In large companies, executive and managerial employees may be sent to the United States instead of the company owners. Employees who are also nationals of the same E2 visa country as the investor are also eligible for an E2 visa.


The investment required to qualify for E2 investor status varies and there is no minimum. For consulting companies, for example software companies, this could be tens of thousands of dollars or less in some cases. However, registering the company as an E2 company may be more difficult for small investments.

When you apply for an E2, you must be investing money. You are not required to invest the total amount necessary to create the business before applying. However, you must have realistic plans for starting and financing the business. Usually, eligible E2 visa activity must ultimately create jobs for U.S. citizens and U.S. residents.


Nationals of many countries can apply for the E2 visa. Unfortunately, Indian and Chinese nationals can only apply for an E2 visa if they wish to enter as the spouse of an E2 visa holder.


The investment used to qualify for an E2 visa must be in an active business requiring people to work in that business. Therefore, businesses that do not require employees, and which might include passive investments in property, stocks or bonds, are not eligible. Usually, at least part of the investment should have been made before applying for E2 visa status. If you are purchasing an existing business, it is possible to apply for E2 registration on the basis of a purchase agreement providing that the investment will only be made if the visa is granted. The company must be registered as an investor before it can apply for an E2 visa.


Investors from eligible countries can apply for an investor visa under E2 to “direct and develop” their businesses. They can also apply for E2 visas for key managerial and specialist employees, which can be particularly useful for medium and large businesses.


Investors must meet the following conditions:

1/The main investor must have the nationality of a country having a trade treaty with the USA:

2/The main investor must own at least 50% of the shares of the company E2.

Two main investors can therefore apply for a visa under the same company.


3/The investment must be substantial, i.e. that a sufficient contribution of funds must allow the company E2 to be profitable within a period of 5 years. There is no minimum or maximum required to qualify for an E2 Visa so it largely depends on the activity as well as the character of the company. The investor must have invested or be in the process of doing so. Dormant funds in an account will not be enough since passive investment does not count.

4/The company must be able to produce income greater than that necessary to maintain the lifestyle of investors and their dependents. A company that only produces enough to meet investors' expenses would not be valid because the E2 is not a “self employment” visa.

5/The investor must have the capacity to manage and develop the company E2. When there is a partnership between investors, the ability to manage and develop applies to everyone. However, complementary partners could thus fulfill these conditions together.



Leaders, managers and supervisors

Leaders and managers must hold positions of responsibility and manage the entire business or a key part of it. In larger companies, the business owners may not actually spend a lot of time in the United States. This staff should be able to demonstrate their leadership abilities with a CV, a letter of support from the employer as well as reference letters from employers

Precedents if applicable.


E2 Specialist or Essential Skilled Workers

The employer must demonstrate that the candidate employee has specialized knowledge of the business that may be difficult to find in the United States and/or the candidate is necessary to manage the business of the principal operator or the investor in the United States.



Spouses and dependents of E2 visa applicants can also apply for an E2 visa and will be granted the same period of stay as the primary E2 visa holder. Spouses and dependents do not necessarily have to have the same nationality as the main applicant to obtain E2 status even if they are citizens of countries that are not on the list of E2 countries.


Spouses are allowed to work directly once they enter the US under the E2 visa category. Children under 21 can study but are not allowed to work unless they are at a university which authorizes up to 20 hours of weekly work directly related to the subject of study.




The validity of the E2 Visa depends on nationality. It is based on a reciprocity schedule. The legal period of stay in the US is 24 months for each entry until the end of the validity of the Visa. However, some officers grant 24 months from the last entry without taking into account the expiry date of the visa which can create confusion. 




1/Incorporate a company, after choosing a name. This company will be your E2 entity which must not be sold or closed for the duration of your visa. Depending on the state, incorporations differ in price. Check your state corporation website for details. An incorporation is done directly with the authorities of the state where the company will be domiciled. Some service providers will want to sell you an “operating agreement” or a “partnership agreement”. An “operating agreement” is not of much use if you are the only member or even two of a company. A “partnership agreement” can be useful when the company has at least 2 members. That said, these documents are essential when a company has many shareholders and members, which is never the case for Visa E2 since all principal visa applicants must hold no less than 50% shares to qualify, making that a maximum of 2 per E2 entity. 

If you would like to operate under a different name or “brand name”, you will need to register a fictitious name for it called a DBA (doing business as). 

2/open a company bank account after receiving your official documents. Some banks accept new customers without a US Social Security number or EIN corporate tax number. Check out several banks and choose the one that suits you. You should explore alternative banking online such as WISE which is a great way to move money at a low cost when you country allows access to that digital platform. 

3/transfer your investment funds to this one. The funds must come from an account in your name or in the name of a company belonging to you. Your funds can also be transferred to the “escrow” account of the lawyer handling the purchase transaction if applicable. Your money is then “locked" until “closing” on this account. This constitutes a committed transaction and qualifies you as “in the process of investing”. 

4/ Carry out the transaction with the seller with a formal contract. You can, if you wish, have an escape clause attached to the issuance of the Visa. When that happens you could be questioned about your intentions by an officer. Addendums stating a transaction can be retracted pending a visa approval might make some sellers nervous and could put you at odds with a seller. That could potentially make a landlord nervous or unwilling to grant you a lease. 


5/establish a 5-year business plan. This must demonstrate the ability of the company to be profitable within 5 years. Financial data and figures related to present and future employment are mandatory. This business plan must be condensed into only a few necessary pages and not developed over several dozen pages. The cost of a business plan for E2 visa purposes should not exceed $1,500. The business plan that you can carry out for your specific case falls within the lines above.

6/Make a List all expenses related to the establishment of your company/business, keeping all large invoices (above $500 per invoice).


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