An E-1 Visa is a Visa Classification that is available to foreign nationals who wish to live in the U.S. and be involved in international trade with the U.S. and their home country. An E-2 allows the foreign national to develop and direct the operations of a business. The business can be large or small and an E Visa is a great Visa option for those who want to start a business. In order to qualify for the Visa, applicants must meet specific requirements and these requirements are outlined below.
You must have invested or be actively in the process of Investing
In order to satisfying this requirement, you must fulfill the following:
- Show legitimate possession and control of funds
- You must invest funds that you have obtained through lawful means. While dollar for dollar accounting is not required, you must provide evidence to the government that you either saved the money, were given the money as a gift, or legitimately earned the money. There are various forms of proof that will satisfy this requirement including, but not limited to, tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts and more. This can be problematic for some countries if records are not readily available or the country is subject to a high degree of corruption.
- All funds invested are “at risk” and irrevocable committed
- All of the assets invested must be personal assets subject to risk of loss ad this means that you actually have something to lose if the investment does not work out. Loans are allowable, but you must be liable if there is a loss. To satisfy this requirement you must sign contracts and/or spend money prior to the approval of the visa. At risk money does not include credit card debt or other loans as long as those debts are not secured by business assets or in the name of a limited liability business. The provision is one of the “scarier” provisions related to an E-2 visa.
- You must be close to the start of the business
- While you cannot accept money from clients or “do business” until the visa is approved, you must be close to starting your business. The idea here is that the US government will not approve visas for individuals who have an “idea” of starting a business or “may” start a business. As such, the business must be at the startup ready phase. This means you should have a signed lease, your business bank account should be set up, you should have a website, and you should have purchased the items you need to get the business up and running.
You must be in a position to “develop and direct” the business with skills
You cannot get the E-2 Visa unless you are the one that is going to direct and run the business. Also, you must have the appropriate skill set such that the Government has faith that the business will be viable. For example, you would likely not have much success getting and E-2 Visa if you wanted to open a restaurant if the only experience you had was eating in a restaurant. Normally, your educational background and experience should suggest that you will be in a position to make the business a success.
Your investment must be substantial
The U.S. Government does not have a predetermined amount that they consider substantial. As such, your investment could be as low as $15,000 or as high as millions. You should note that idle cash sitting in a business account is NOT considered an investment but the government will consider a reasonable amount of working capital as part of an investment. You should ensure that you keep records of all of your expenditures as the government will want to see them.
Your investment and business cannot be marginal
This means that the business cannot be set up so that it provides a means of living just for yourself and family. You can demonstrate a business is not marginal by putting together a business plan that shows growth over a 5-year period or by showing that you plan to hire employees in the future.
You Must Intend to Return to Your Home Country After Expiration
In recent years, the USCIS is requiring applicants to show ties to their home country to demonstrate their intent to return home once their E visa is no longer valid. Although home ownership in a foreign land is not required, it would help to show that the applicant does have the intent to return home.