Immigration for the Foreign Entrepreneur: The E-2 Visa

Many foreign business owners looking to expand their enterprise to U.S. markets often immediately think of the elusive EB-5 with its stringent financial and business model requirements. The problem with aiming for the stars is that we sometimes overlook the moon, in this case, the E-2 visa route.

The E-2 differs from an immigration perspective from the EB-5 in that it is a nonimmigrant visa—meaning it does not confer permanent residency and must be perpetually renewed. It is purely dependent on the existence of the business upon which it was granted. However, the financial investment is considerably less strict than the EB-5.

This is not to say that there are no requirements at all—for an E-2 visa, the investment must be “substantial”. And regardless of what you hear or read elsewhere, there is no dollar amount specified as there is for the EB-5. So what is substantial? It depends on the nature of the business. Some companies only need about $30K to get up and running, while it’s obvious that some will require much greater capital.

Having a good business plan that justifies the investment is a great way to prove your case for an E-2 visa. For that matter, E-2 visa business plans are not your average cookie cutter business plans—they have to take much more into account regarding the source of funds and require a minimum of a five-year projection. These are not something to craft on your own—it’s best to have an immigration attorney with experience handling E-2 cases draft your plan or at least make modifications.