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The E-2 Visa at a Glance: Advantages & Disadvantages

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The E-2 treaty investor visa allows foreign nationals to make an investment in an existing or new business venture in the United States.

Advantages

There are no numerical limitations on the number of E-2 visas that can be issued, and there is no set minimum level of investment required, however the level of investment that should be made in the business venture should be sufficient to justify the presence of the foreign national in the United States. Although the E-2 visa is granted for an initial two-year period, the investor may qualify to extend their stay in two-year increments, with no outer limit on the total period of the foreign national’s stay.

Disadvantages

Not all foreign nationals are eligible to apply for the E-2 treaty investor visa. To qualify, you must be a foreign national from a treaty country that participates in a treaty of friendship, commerce, navigation or similar agreement with the United States. See below for qualifying countries:

Albania Czech Republic Kosovo Romania
Argentina Denmark Kyrgyzstan Serbia
Armenia Ecuador Latvia Senegal
Australia Egypt Liberia Singapore
Austria Estonia Lithuania Slovak Republic
Azerbaijan Ethiopia Luxembourg Slovenia
Bahrain Finland Macedonia Spain
Bangladesh France Mexico Sri Lanka
Belgium Georgia Moldova Suriname
Bolivia Germany Mongolia Sweden
Bosnia and Herzegovina Grenada Montenegro Switzerland
Bulgaria Honduras Morocco Thailand
Cameroon Iran The Netherlands Togo
Canada Ireland Norway Trinidad and Tobago
Chile Italy Oman Tunisia
China (Taiwan) Jamaica Pakistan Turkey
Colombia Japan Panama Ukraine
Congo (Brazzaville and Kinshasa) Jordan Paraguay United Kingdom
Costa Rica Kazakhstan Philippines Yugoslavia
Croatia South Korea Poland

Another disadvantage is that the E-2 visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa type. This means that the E-2 visa does not create a pathway to permanent residency. In addition, making an investment in a small business venture is risky. Most small businesses fail. Investors seeking to establish a new business in the United States must be prepared to face challenges, obstacles, and potential losses. If the investment will be made by a company, at least 50% of owners in the qualifying country must maintain the nationality of a treaty trader country if they are not lawful permanent residents.

As you may already imagine, the process of setting up a new business in the United States is intensive. The investor will be required to lease a commercial space for the business, establish the new business by filing articles of incorporation, applying for the applicable business license, etc. In addition, the investor must provide some evidence that the funds he will be investing in the business are “at risk.” This will require the investor to irrevocably commit a portion of the investment funds to the business for example by paying rent on the commercial space, purchasing equipment, inventory, paying employees etc.

The investor must also provide evidence of the source of funds that he will use toward the investment. This process includes tracing the source of funds and providing documentation to prove that the funds are coming from that particular source. For example, if the investor obtained the money as a gift from a family member, and the funds were the proceeds of a sale of real estate, then the family member must provide a paper trail to trace the origin of those funds (such as the bill of sale, bank account statements etc).

The investor visa is a great option for foreign nationals who are not seeking to remain in the United States permanently.

For more information about the E-2 visa please click here.