Immigration Options For Startups And Entrepreneurs

Are you a foreign entrepreneur who wants to own and operate a business in the US? In today’s newsletter, we’ll discuss the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa– who is eligible, the benefits, and how to obtain it.

The United States offers multiple visa options for startups and entrepreneurs outside the country who would like to work in the United States. H-1B visas, L- 1 Intracompany Transferee Visas, E-2 Treaty Investors, O-1 Extraordinary Ability Visas, B-1 Business Visitor, and EB-2 National Interest Waivers are just a few visa options for foreign nationals who want to work in the US. Each visa has its own requirements, benefits, and timeline. We’ll talk about each visa in an upcoming newsletter, but we’re starting with the E-2 Treaty Investor Visas.

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa FAQ

What is an E-2 Visa?

The  E-2 Treaty Investor Visa is a visa for entrepreneurs who would like to open and operate a business within the United States.

What are the benefits of an E-2 Visa?

Compared with an EB-5 (Investor) green card petition, the E-2 is cheaper and quicker, and requirements are considered looser. This means you are not required to create a certain amount of job opportunities in the USA.

Once you get your E-2 visa, you can extend it as many times as you want. There is no cap on the duration of this visa, but it does not provide a direct path to secure a green card as other visas can.

When you enter the United States on an E-2 visa, you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under 21. Under this visa, your dependents are allowed to work and attend school without hindrance.

E-2 visas also allow business owners and directors to bring essential employees from their home country to help with the business. However, absent certain strict conditions you must retain majority ownership in the business.

What steps do I need to take to secure an E-2 visa?

To obtain an E-2 visa, there are four primary hurdles for you to meet.

1. You must a citizen of a country that has a treaty with the United States.

E-2 Treaty Countries 

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Grenada, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Panama, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine

2. You must invest a substantial amount of money.

There is no specific or required investment amount, but you must prove that your investment substantially indicates your commitment to the success and continuation of your business.  The government adopts the “Proportionality Test,” considering the amount of investment and the cost of buying or creating an established business.

Please keep in mind two policies:

  • The more expensive a business, the less proportional the investment must be. The government uses the following scales:
    • For a business that requires an investment of less than $500,000, it is recommended that 85% to 100% of the funds are invested prior to filing;
    • For a business that requires an investment of between $500,000 and $3,000,000, a 50% investment is sufficient; and
    • For a business that requires an investment of more than $3,000,000, a 30% investment is sufficient.
  • Timing is everything. Make sure your business is close to being operational when you file your E-2 petition.

3. You will be asked to prove that your investment funds are legal and from lawful resources and that you have possession and control of the invested funds, and they are subject to loss should the business fail.

4. The business that you pursue must be bona fide, legitimate, and have a realistic chance of success.

What is the timeline for most E-2 visa consular processing?

From start to finish, there are usually four steps to complete:

1. Prepare documents and create business plans with the help of an immigration attorney (3 to 6 weeks);

2. Attorneys prepare the case, based on documentation from the client (1 to 3 weeks);

3. Submit the documents to the consulate and make an appointment for an interview (varies by country, usually no more than 90 days);

4. Entry. The border officer will grant your stay for an initial period of 2 to 5 years, depending on the treaty your country has with the United States.


Are you ready to build your business in the United States? The attorneys at Danny Grace, P.C. are ready to help! We specialize in immigration with extensive experience in:

  • Visas

  • Permanent residence (green cards)

  • Citizenship

  • Corporate immigration

  • Immigration hearings

To learn whether the E-2 visa is right for you, contact us today to set up a free case consultation.

About Danny Grace PLLC

Founded in 2012, Danny Grace PLLC is a boutique employment litigation and immigration practice located in Manhattan, New York. Trust the attorneys at Danny Grace PLLC for a successful outcome on all of your legal needs.

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Bridge Benefits Group is a financial advisory firm that specializes in assisting companies obtain Retirement Plans, Health Insurance, Deferred Compensation Packages, and Business Insurance.  We work closely with the business owners to design custom benefits packages that fit the unique needs of the them, their executives, and the company as a whole.  As independent advisors we work with all providers to ensure our clients are getting the most prudent benefit package for their company without exorbitant fees and with the utmost service.

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