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Immigration Options for Entrepreneurs: Frequently Asked Questions About The E-2 Visa

The purpose of this post is to provide general answers to common questions I receive about the E visa as an Austin immigration lawyer.

What is an E-2 visa and how can it help me develop a business in the United States?

The E category is especially useful for managers, business owners, and employees who need to remain in the United States for extended periods of time to oversee, supervise, or work in a business that represents a major investment in the United States. Most people know about the EB-5 investor program, where a potential investor can invest a million dollars or in some instances a half a million dollars and obtain permanent residency. What many people do not know is that you do not need a million dollars or even a half a million dollars to get a visa that allows you to work and live in the United States. The E-2 visa can be used by investors who want to remain the United States for purposes of overseeing that investment. An E visa lawyer that help you determine what E visa is right for you.

What is the difference between the E-1 visa and the E-2 visa?

The E-1 visa is typically for purposes of conducting trade between the United States and a foreign country. The E-2 visa is for overseeing investment in the United States.

Can anyone apply for an E-1 or an E-2?

No. The E visa is only available if a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation or a Bilateral Investment Treaty is in existence between the United States and the foreign State (except for Australia and Sweden, which are covered without a treaty). The U.S. Department of State publishes a list of treaty counties and what categories they qualify for.

How much money do I need to invest to qualify for an E-2 visa?

It depends on the type of business you are investing in. There have been cases won with as little as a $50,000 investment, although most businesses invest an average of $100,000. The investor is required to make a commitment of funds that represents an actual, active investment. Passive investments do not count. Meet with an E visa immigration lawyer to get more details on active versus passive investment.

Is the E-1 or E-2 visa a path to citizenship?

No. The E visa does not lead to permanent residence. However, the E visa can be renewed almost indefinitely. Typically, the initial period of stay granted for E visas is 2 years.

I am already in the United States on a different visa. Can I change my status to E-2?

Yes. This is possible for certain people. However, people who have entered the United States using the Visa Waiver program, will not be able to change status within the United States to E-1 or E-2. They are however able to pursue the E status from the U.S. embassy in their home country.

I do not have a business set up in the United States, I do not have an LLC or a Corporation, but I am interested in the E visa. Can you help me set up my business?

The Lyttle Law Firm, PLLC partners up with another firm in Austin that will help you set up an LLC or any business structure of your choosing. They can also help you with drafting of by-laws, to get a Tax ID number, and even to draft a business plan. This is an advantage because both the immigration attorney and the business attorney must work together and share information to pursue the E visa.

The Lyttle Law Firm can help businesses and investors who wish to pursue an E visa. We have the resources to help you in all aspects of your business — from set up to by-laws to drafting a business plan to achieve your goals. Call us for a consultation.

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