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Dyer Harris Blog

E-2 Investor Visas: Options and Strategies

Skyscrapers at sunset

The U.S. economy turns on constant inflows of new investment – including, and especially, non-U.S. investment. Subject to a number of caveats, the U.S. offers visas to foreign investors (and their same-country designees) who invest a substantial, controlling investment in a commercially-viable U.S. company. The visa is called an E-2 Investor Visa and it is based on the existence of a commerce and navigation treaty between your home country and the U.S.

Let us assume that:

  1. You are a citizen of Atlantis.

  2. You seek to invest in a U.S. company called Newcorp. (Newcorp might be a traditional corportation (an "Inc.") or a limited liability company (an LLC).

Requirements for an E-2 Visa in this context:

  • There must exist the right sort of treaty between the U.S. and Atlantis. Click here to check if such a treaty exists.

  • Many important countries do not have the requisite treaty with the U.S.: Brazil, China, India, and Russia lack the treaty. Citizens of these countries are not eligible for E-2 visas.

  • This application would ultimately be submitted to the U.S. Embassy in Atlantis.

  • You would incorporate a new company in the U.S. – Newcorp or purchase an existing company.

  • The total investment in Newcorp must be substantial — typically $100,000, but it can be somewhat less, if an accountant agrees that the lower investment level is sufficient to launch the business.

  • Shareholders with Atlantis citizenship must own 50% or more of the investment in Newcorp. (E-2 regulations focus on voting power as the key metric of ownership.

  • A U.S. accountant must confirm that a substantial investment in Newcorp has been made.

  • The investment cannot simply sit in a bank account, but must be committed to Newcorp’s operations: office (and, perhaps, warehouse) rent, salaries, inventory, equipment.

  • You will come to the U.S. to manage the investment.

  • You must prove that Newcorp is commercially viable - a detailed business plan is necessary.

  • Newcorp must be an active operation.

  • Newcorp must project a plan for hiring people in the future.

  • E-2 Visas are issued for up to 5 years and can be renewed. (Typically, investors in startup companies receive a shorter initial period, like 3 years. Visa duration can even be less for citizen of countries subject to visa reciprocity rules.)

  • If you have an existing company in Atlantis and seek to establish a U.S. subsidiary or affiliate, you may also qualify for the L-1A visa (transferred Executive within an international corporate group).

  • Once the US Embassy has certified the investment in Newcorp as substantial and found Newcorp to be operationally viable, it is possible to obtain E-2 visas executives or essential skills employees who might have no ownership interest in Newcorp.

The E-2 Visa process is complicated. You need an experienced lawyer to establish and document a compelling narrative of your U.S. company’s past, its current operations and its future promise. We invite you to discuss your options with our team.

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