Getting Approved For An E2 Visa On A Small Budget
If you are like so many of our clients, who do not have U.S. citizenship, you may be wondering: can I get an E2 visa on a small budget? The answer to this question is, it depends. After all, what is your budget, and do you consider it small? I know this answer is not very satisfying. But so much of this depends on what you are trying to do and if you can justify your “small budget.” For example, a restaurant in Orlando, Florida, will cost a lot more than the same restaurant in a small town two hours south of the city. The same restaurant will also cost significantly more in New York City than in Orlando, Florida.
First, lets’ take a closer look at the E2 Visa and what it is.
What is An E2 Visa?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an E2 Investor Visa allows foreign nationals from qualifying treaty countries to work and reside in the United States lawfully. As an investor, you can invest an amount of money in a qualifying business in the United States, and the U.S. will let you stay in the country with an E2 visa to develop your enterprise.
There is more good news. Immediate relatives and family members such as your spouse and/or children under 21 years of age can all come with you. Your spouse can apply for an Employment Authorization Card (“work permit”) and work for any employer and/or pursue another occupation separate from your business, and your kids can attend public schools. The Visa lasts up to 5 years, but you can renew indefinitely as long as you are still managing your business and once your U.S. visa is renewed, you or your family members will not be deported or subjected to removal proceedings.
E2 Visa is Not an Immigrant Visa
The E2 Visa is different from immigrant visas or green cards. Instead, the E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa that prohibits the visa holder from having an intent to immigrate to the United States, apply for citizenship or obtain permanent resident status during the time that the Visa was used for entry or issued. Therefore, the E2 Visa does not provide a cardholder with a direct pathway to permanent residency (a green card). However, the E2 Visa holder, after entry, is eligible to proceed with indirect pathways to apply for permanent residency as long as they do not violate their E2 status during the application process.
Unlike the H1B visa, there is no quota for E2 visas by the US Department of State. Overall, the E2 Investor Visa is great and is much cheaper than the EB5 Immigrant Investor Green Card, and we really like it!
Preliminary Questions for E2 Visa Application Approval
Whenever a client comes to us looking to get an E2 visa application approval, we always ask the following questions:
- What is your budget?
- What is your type of business?
- Where is your business going to be located?
- Where is the money for your business coming from?
- Do you have the experience to run it?
I use the answers to those questions to determine if my client’s business meets the legal requirements for an E2 Investor Visa.
E2 Visa Requirements
- The amount of money invested must be substantial enough to ensure the smooth running of the business.
- Your investment must be in a real operating company, and you should have supporting documents to prove it.
- Your investment may not be marginal; it must generate more income than just to provide for the investor and family; it must have a significant economic impact in the US.
- You must have control of the funds, and the investment must be at risk.
- You, the investor, will come to the US only to develop and run the company.
How Much Should I Invest?
If you want an E2 Visa, you must make a “substantial” investment. But the law does not say how much money, nor does it state a minimum amount. As an immigration lawyer, I often recommend my clients to be prepared to invest about $100,000. However, we have clients who received an E2 Visa with as little as $65,000 (for a cleaning company). As well as clients with as high as $750,000 (for a land development business). Those respective amounts made sense for their type of businesses, their locations, and projections. Their businesses met the legal requirements above, and they were approved for an E2 Visa.
A substantial investment is defined as an amount sufficient to ensure the investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise. This is measured by a proportionality test. Specifically, the total amount invested in the business is compared with the cost of establishing a viable business of the same nature OR the amount of money needed to buy an existing successful business. This proportionality test is how the US government determines if your investment amount is substantial.
At Risk Investment
That investment must be at risk. In other words, you are not just faking it to get an E2 visa. It also doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you have. You can have working capital in your bank account and a plan to use it. This working capital can also count as part of your investment. You should have all this information organized, in case the government request evidence of your business operations, etc., on your visa application form.
Working With a Small Budget
Thus, if you want an E2 Visa, but you have a “small” budget, then you should start a business that truly doesn’t need a large investment. This is often the case with businesses that offer services like consulting, cleaning, beauty services, and such. Businesses that offer products, restaurants, merchandise stores, or manufacturing plants typically require higher budgets.
Physical Location Requirement for E2 Visas
Nevertheless, don’t think that you can cut corners by working out of your home office. One thing that every E2 business must have is a “physical location,” and there is no waiver of this requirement. That means you must operate your business out of an office, a storefront, or another location that you either purchase or rent.
You must also keep in mind that you, as the Visa holder, should create some new jobs. After all, your investment must not be marginal. It must generate more income than just to provide for the investor and their family (see #3 above). When it comes to the number of jobs your business should create, there also isn’t a magic number. It will also depend on what makes sense for your specific type of business and investment.
Approval and Renewal Periods for E2 Visas
E2 Visa typically lasts for five years. However, you can stay in the United States with an E2 Visas for two years. The entries (I-94) are renewed in two-year increments. This means that every two years, you, and your family members must depart the United States and return for a new two-year stay while your Visa is valid. Before your E2 Visa expires, you must renew your visa for another five years. The application process and administrative processing times are notoriously slow. As an immigration attorney, I recommend requesting renewal at the earliest time possible. This ensures that you can work in the United States and maintain your E2 visa immigration status.
Do I Qualify for an E2 Visa?
To find out if your country of origin qualifies for an E2 Visa, click here.
We recommend seeking the help of an immigration lawyer to analyze your specific situation. At Terra Immigration, we have helped investors from all over the world obtain E2 visas. It is important that you work with a professional that can give you an honest assessment. As well as help you achieve your objectives. If you have any questions, you can speak to Attorney Ileana Rivera or Ingrid Perez. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (407) 818-1244.
Extra Resources for Immigrants Seeking to Obtain the E-2 Visa:
Learn more about Investment Requirements for E-2 Visa by reading “E-2 Visa: Investor Requirements, Application & Renewal“