The E-2 Investor Visa allows an individual to enter and work inside of the United States based on an investment he or she will be controlling, while inside the United States. This visa must be renewed every other year, but there is no limit to how many times one can renew. Investment must be substantial. An investor must contribute to the US economy. (Setting up a small shop alone is not enough). Investor visas are available only to treaty nations.
The dollar amount of cash investment normally should exceed $50,000 depending on the type of business (new or existing). This is an approximated amount and applicants should consult an immigration lawyer prior to making any offers for existing business. The dollar amount should only be money spent on the business. Any expenses not directly spent on the actual business itself will not count toward the required amount.
For new start ups, the investment must be large enough to start and operate the business. The amount of investment varies on the type of business. The $50,000 dollar amount would not be a substantial investment for a business such as the construction and management of a shopping center or office complex. The investment will not be considered substantial if it is not large enough to capitalize the venture. The USCIS will use an ‘Inverted Sliding Scale’ to determine whether the investment is substantial in proportion to the overall cost of the enterprise.
Upon conclusion of the business, investors must return to their countries of origin, or change their status. The holder of an E-2 visa may leave the United States at anytime but not over the time limit of 6 months.
An E-2 visa does not lead to a green card. For investors looking for a green card, you can consider an EB-5 visa (or stay tuned for a possible EB6 visa in late 2011 or 2012).