The E-2 visa is an investor visa similar to the EB-5 visa. The difference is, the E-2 is a non-immigrant visa, which is a temporary visa and does not provide a method of receiving permanent residence (“Green Card”).
The E-2 entrepreneur visa allows an individual to enter, work and remain in the United States based on an investment that he or she will be controlling while inside the United States. This visa will allow the investor to remain in the United States in 2 year increments. This visa can be extended indefinitely every 2 years as long as the investment continues to be viable. The investment must be “substantial”.
There is no defining amount of money required to be a “substantial” investment in a business, nor is the investor required to create a certain number of jobs in the United States. The investment must be “substantial” and as a rule of thumb would be approximately $100,000 or above. It is possible under certain conditions that the investment could be less than $100,000. The investment cannot be marginal where the investor relies solely on the investment for his or her livelihood.
An E-2 investment can be an individual or a joint investment but the E-2 investor must own and control at least 51% of the business to qualify for that visa. Further the investment can be located anywhere in the United States without regard to population or unemployment areas.
The regulations state that the E-2 investor must at the minimum be in the process of investing the required capital for operating the business. Part of the investment can be the contribution of materials or equipment previously purchased and certain qualifying loans.
The E-2 investor is not normally allowed to be “hands on” or employed in the business and would serve in a managerial capacity only. However, he or she may be “hands on” to the point of having the business set up and begin operations but when the business is in full operation, the investor cannot perform daily duties. For example: if the investor opens a restaurant, they may perform various duties involved in setting up the restaurant, purchasing goods, arranging tables but once in operation could not perform the duties of a Chef.
The spouse of an E-2 may apply for employment authorization which would allow him or her to work in the same investment if so desired in any position.
To qualify as an E-2 investor / entrepreneur, there must be a treaty between the United States and the investors country. If there is no treaty, then this visa is not available.