An E-2 visa makes it possible for entrepreneurs to open businesses in the United States even if they don’t have US citizenship. This makes it one of the most advantageous visas offered to foreign nationals. Over the past 5 years, the US Department of State has issued more than 41,000 E-2 visas. The number of visas issued has increased 112% since 1996. Since there is no limit on the number of E-2 visas in the United States, it is a visa that can be applied for at any time by a Chicago immigration lawyer without worrying about lotteries or caps.
The E-2 visa process requires applicants to meet strict standards that demonstrate their ability to finance, open, and operate an enterprise in the United States. The applicant does not have to have sole ownership of the business, merely 50% or more.
There is no minimum investment required, and some investments of less than $100,000 may be approved. In fact, many applicants apply when they can show investments of between $100,000 and $200,000. In addition to proving the financial ability to purchase, open, and operate the business, individuals must be able to show the net number of jobs the business will generate.
Processing & Duration of Visa
The E-2 visa can be issued for periods of 2, or 5 years. In most cases, it takes 2-4 weeks to process the application prepared by a Chicago immigration lawyer. However, this can be longer depending on the consular post, the need for additional documents, etc. Individuals may renew their visas at the end of these periods provided they are still operating the business and the business generates enough revenue to support the investor and their family. Children of E-2 visa holders may remain in the US until they are 21, at which time they will need to apply for another visa status.
The E-2 visa does not provide a path to permanent residency for the business owner or their family, however, E-2 holders can apply for an EB-5 visa down the road. This requires an investment of $1 million, or $500,000 if the investment is made within a rural area, or in an area with high unemployment.
Currently, the minor children (under 21 years of age) of E-2 and EB-5 visa holders can apply for student visas when they’re ready to enter college, however, they don’t qualify for in-state tuition. However, there are legislative proposals that would change this that are worth paying attention to.