E2 Visa: The Initial Steps You Must Take
If you're looking to start or invest in a business in the United States as a foreign national, you may be considering applying for an E2 visa. This nonimmigrant visa allows individuals from certain countries to come to the US to direct and develop their own business enterprise. However, the application process for an E2 visa can be complex and time-consuming, requiring thorough preparation and attention to detail. That's why the lawyers at SG Legal Group, a leading immigration law firm in Maryland, have put together this guide on the initial steps you must take when applying for an E2 visa. In this article, we'll walk you through the key requirements and considerations to help you maximize your chances of success.
The Six Steps You Must Take to Apply for an E2 Visa
1. Establish the Basis of Your Eligibility
The first step is to confirm whether you qualify for an E2 visa. This type of visa is available only to nationals from a treaty country. Here’s a complete list of the treaty countries: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/fees/treaty.html 2. Consult With an Experienced Immigration Lawyer
Once you have confirmed that you are a citizen of one of the treaty countries, the next step is to seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer. It is recommended that you take this step right at the beginning so that you can avoid discovering later on that you do not meet some of the E2 visa requirements after investing significant time, effort, and money into the process. Below is a general overview of the requirements for an E2 Visa:
Applicants should possess the necessary education and experience to manage a business
Applicants are required to invest a substantial amount of capital in the US business
Applicants should have a minimum of 50% ownership in the US business
Applicants are expected to put their investment “at-risk”
3. Set Up Your Business, Purchase an Existing Business or a Franchise
Once you have consulted with an attorney and confirmed that you can satisfy the basic requirements for an E2 visa, the next step is to determine what you will invest in. Typically, there are three choices for investment: purchasing an existing business, investing in a franchise, or establishing your own business.
If you decide to acquire an existing business, it is crucial to assess its feasibility and viability. To meet the criteria for an E2 visa, the business should have the potential to generate profits, sustain its operations, and exhibit potential for expansion, among other indicators of a prosperous and growing business. Another alternative for an E2 investment is to invest in a franchise. Embassies usually view these investments favorably since franchises have a long track record of financial data, as well as marketing and training materials that can be included with the application. The third option for an E2 investment is to launch your own business. To accomplish this, you must obtain a Federal Employment Identification Number from the IRS, select a business structure, and register it.
4. Open a Business Bank Account and Transfer the Investment Funds
After you have either launched or purchased the business that you will be investing in, the subsequent step is to open a business bank account. It is possible to form a company and open a bank account before obtaining an E2 visa. These actions are considered as setting up the business and are not regarded as unauthorized work. However, you cannot perform any work for the business until the E2 visa is granted, and work authorization has been issued. Having a business bank account is necessary for the subsequent steps and to qualify for the E2 visa.
After you have established your US business bank account, you need to transfer your investment funds into the account. To qualify for the E2 visa, you must make a significant investment in the US business. The term "substantial investment" is subjective and may vary depending on various factors, such as the type of business, which an immigration attorney can explain in detail. Nonetheless, it is typically advisable to have a minimum of $100,000 for the investment. 5. Spend the Investment Funds
The subsequent step is to utilize the investment funds for the business, as the investment funds must be put "at-risk" to be eligible for the E2 visa. Simply depositing the funds into the business bank account is insufficient to be considered putting the funds "at-risk." The funds must be expended on business-related expenses, such as acquiring equipment and supplies, leasing office space, financing marketing expenses, and addressing any other business demands and requirements. By spending the funds, they will be classified as "at-risk." If you are purchasing an existing business or investing in a franchise, the investment funds can be considered "at-risk" if they are placed in a bank account with an escrow agreement that is dependent on the approval of the E2 visa.
6. Apply for the E2 Visa
Once the business has been established and the investment funds have been put "at-risk," an applicant may apply for the E2 visa through visa processing, which necessitates submitting the DS-160 form with the Department of State and attending an interview at the consulate or embassy. After a successful interview, the E2 visa will be granted, and the applicant will be able to enter the US and operate the investment business. Alternatively, if an applicant is already in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant visa, they can request a change of status with USCIS to E2 status. E2 visa will be granted, and the applicant will be able to enter the US and operate the investment business.
Ready to Apply for an E2 Visa?
If you're considering applying for an E2 visa, it's important to have the right legal guidance and support to help you navigate the complex application process. SG Legal Group, a leading immigration law firm in Maryland, has a team of experienced attorneys who can assist you every step of the way. Whether you're starting a new business or investing in an existing one, our team can help you prepare and submit a strong E2 visa application that gives you the best chance of success. Don't hesitate to reach out to us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you achieve your immigration goals.