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E-2 Visa Guide: Definition, Requirements, Application, and Process

EB5 States > E-2 Visa

Table of Contents

The E-2 visa is an investment-based nonimmigrant visa that permits a citizen of a U.S. treaty country to live and work in the USA by investing in a new or existing U.S. business. As an investor under the E-2 visa, you have the opportunity to start a business in the U.S. as a foreign entrepreneur. However, this visa is only available for investors from specific Treaty Countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Taiwan, and Ethiopia.

You can make an investment in any business in the U.S., and as an investor, you are allowed to work and live in the U.S., but you are restricted to your specific business. E-2 visa holders have the freedom to travel in and out of the U.S., and the investor’s dependents are also covered under the E-2 treaty. In addition, they may be allowed to work in the U.S. through an Employment Authorization Document.

What is an E-2 Visa?

The E-2 Visa is a nonimmigrant investor visa for foreign individuals from treaty countries seeking to operate a business in the United States. A treaty country refers to a foreign nation that maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States, maintains an international qualifying agreement, or has been designated a qualifying country by law.

The E-2 Visa is available to foreign nationals from treaty countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Argentina, and Ethiopia. However, countries such as India, China, Vietnam, Kenya, and Dubai do not have a treaty with the U.S. for the E-2 Visa.

It is important to note that the E-2 Visa is different from the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa.

What are Non-Marginal Enterprises?

Non-marginal enterprises are businesses that generate sufficient income to support the entire family on a visa. In the case of a start-up, it should be capable of generating such income within five years.

What is the Period of Stay under the E-2 Classification?

Qualified treaty investors are allowed an initial maximum stay of two years. Requests for extensions of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may receive. However, all E-2 nonimmigrants must intend to depart from the United States when their status expires or is terminated. The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Investors have a separate classification.

What are the main Terms and Conditions of E-2 Status?

A treaty investor is only permitted to work in the activity for which he or she was approved at the time the classification was granted.

Dependents, Family, and Employees

  • Treaty investors and employees may be accompanied or followed by spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. Their nationalities do not need to be the same as the treaty investor.
  • These family members may seek E-2 nonimmigrant classification as dependents and, if approved, will generally be granted the same period of stay as the investor. In addition, spouses of E-2 workers may apply for work authorization, and if approved, there are no specific restrictions on where the E-2 spouse may work.

Who can Apply for an E-2 Visa while Present in the USA? If the investor is on a legal nonimmigrant visa, they may apply for a change of status through Form I-129. Please refer to the “Change My Nonimmigrant Status” section for further information.

What are the Requirements for an E-2 Visa?

Here are the essential requirements for an E-2 Visa:


  1. Be a citizen of a country that has signed a treaty with the U.S.
  2. The investor’s investment typically needs to be over U.S. $150,000 with a minimum ownership of 50%.
  3. Move to the USA to establish and manage the business.
  4. Generate significant returns for investors and the economy by employing U.S. workers.
  5. Funds must be “at risk.” For more detailed information, please refer to the E2 Requirements.

How does this apply to your situation?

Get information on E-2 Visa Business Opportunities! Get More Information

How does this apply to your Situation?

Get info on E-2 Visa Business Opportunities!

How does an E-2 Visa Work?

The E-2 Visa requires a foreign national to invest substantial capital in a new or existing U.S. business. The E-2 Visa holder must be directly involved in managing and operating the U.S. business. The validity period of the E-2 Visa ranges from 3 months to 5 years, depending on the country of origin. The E-2 Visa can be extended indefinitely.

What are the Benefits of the E-2 Visa?

The E-2 Visa offers several benefits for foreign investors and their dependents (spouses and minor children under 21):

  1. Conduct business legally in the U.S. You can be employed by the same U.S. business that you have invested in.
  2. Travel freely in and out of the U.S. You can travel in and out of the U.S. as long as your E-2 Visa remains valid.
  3. Obtain an E-2 Visa for your dependent spouse and children below 21 years of age. Your spouse can work in the U.S. with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Your children can receive a U.S. education as dependents on the E-2 Visa.

What are the Risks of the E-2 Visa?

The E-2 Visa entails the following challenges and risks that foreign investors should consider:


  1. Investment risk: The E-2 Visa requires a substantial investment to be made before submitting the petition.
  2. Qualifying U.S. treaty: Only countries with a treaty agreement can apply for the E-2 Visa.
  3. Business operations: The foreign investor should actively run the U.S. business and ensure that it is profitable.

What is the Processing Timeline for E-2 Visa?

The processing time for an E-2 visa depends on the investor’s location. For investors present in the USA, the average processing time is five months. However, there is an option for premium processing with a 15-day turnaround time for a fee of $2,500. For investors outside of the U.S., the E-2 visa processing time through a Consulate varies from 2 weeks to 4 months.

Details on USCIS E-2 processing times:

USCIS resumes premium processing for I-129 petitions.

How much does an E-2 Visa Cost?

The minimum investment amount is typically over U.S. $150,000. For investors present in the USA, the Form I-129 fee is $460 (Form I-539 fee is $370 per dependent), with an additional $2,500 for 15-day premium processing. For investors in their home country, there is a $205 fee per DS-160 form, along with lawyer’s charges and business entity formation costs. Details of the investment should be considered.

How to Apply for an E-2 Visa?

The order and process of the E-2 Visa application may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate. It is advisable to consult the guidelines posted on the website of the embassy or consulate where you are applying.

The E-2 Visa application involves the following seven steps:

  1. Fill out the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (Form DS-160).
  2. Upload your photo when filling out Form DS-160.
  3. Pay the application fee and print out the receipt.
  4. Wait for an electronic confirmation after completing the online application. Print the confirmation sheet, as it will be needed, along with the receipt, for your interview at the consulate or U.S. embassy. The confirmation sheet has a barcode to facilitate the identification of your application by immigration officials.
  5. Schedule an interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate in your area.
  6. Complete the required documents for the E-2 Visa application.
  7. Attend the visa interview at the designated U.S. embassy or consulate.

In some instances, you may be required to print and complete the Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor Application. This form lets you describe your business plan and investment before your interview.

How Long is the Process of the E-2 Visa?

The processing time for an E-2 Visa depends on the applicant’s location. For foreign investors present in the U.S., the average processing period is five months. For foreign investors outside the U.S., the processing time can range from 2 weeks to 4 months. Optional premium processing is available, which expedites the processing time to 15 calendar days.

What are the Interview Questions for an E-2 Visa?

The interview questions for the E-2 Visa may vary based on the consulate’s internal operating protocols, the number of E-2 Visa applications, and the specific area. Here are five commonly asked questions during an E-2 Visa interview:


  1. What business do you intend to invest in?
  2. How much capital have you invested in this enterprise?
  3. How did you meet your business partners (if applicable)?
  4. How many employees do you plan to hire? How much will you pay them?
  5. Where do you anticipate the company to be in five years?


It is crucial to provide honest answers during the interview for the E-2 Visa to minimize the risk of application rejection.

What are treaty countries?

Treaty countries for the E-2 Visa are countries with which the United States maintains treaties of commerce and navigation. Nationals of treaty countries must be coming to the United States to engage in substantial trade, including trade in services or technology, in qualifying activities primarily between the U.S. and the treaty country. Alternatively, they may develop and direct the operations of a business in which the investor has invested a substantial amount of capital.

The E-2 Visa is applicable to foreign nationals from treaty countries. Examples of Treaty Countries eligible for the E-2 Visa include Taiwan, Denmark, Egypt, Mexico, and Pakistan.

Foreign investors from non-treaty countries are ineligible for the E-2 Visa. Examples of countries with no treaty agreement with the United States include the United Arab Emirates, El Salvador, Peru, Vietnam, and Nigeria.

Non-Treaty Countries List

Citizens of non-treaty countries can qualify to apply for an E-2 visa in one of two ways: either by obtaining the passport or citizenship of a treaty country or by deriving eligibility through marriage to a citizen of a treaty country.

Here is a list of countries with no treaty for the US E-2 Visa:

  • India
  • China
  • Vietnam
  • Dubai
  • Qatar
  • Kuwait
  • Nepal
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Riyadh
  • Bahrain

What are the Differences between the E-2 Visa and the EB-5 Visa?

Both the E-2 Visa and the EB-5 Visa allow foreign nationals to invest in a U.S. business. However, there are key differences between the two:

E2 Visa

  • Requires the investor to be a citizen of a nation that has a trade and navigation treaty with the United States.
  • Requires a substantial amount of capital to be invested or in the process of being invested in a legitimate enterprise in the U.S.
  • Does not have a minimum job creation requirement.

EB-5 Visa

  • Does not have a nationality requirement, allowing citizens from any country to apply for the EB-5 investor visa.
  • Requires a minimum investment of $800,000 in a new firm located in a targeted employment area.
  • Must have the capability to create at least ten full-time jobs for qualified Americans in the new business entity.

What are the Differences between the E-2 Visa and the H-1B Visa?

The E-2 Visa is a nonimmigrant investor visa intended for citizens of countries that have a treaty agreement with the United States. On the other hand, the H-1B Visa is a nonimmigrant visa based on employment for foreign workers in the United States. Here are the differences between the E-2 Visa and the H-1B Visa:

E2 Visa

  • Requires the applicant to be from a country that has a treaty agreement with the United States.
  • Requires a significant investment or being in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a legal U.S. business.
  • The purpose is to enter the United States to establish and manage the investment firm.

E2 Visa

  • Requires the applicant to have a job offer from a U.S. company for a position that requires specialized knowledge.
  • The applicant must have at least a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent.
  • Requires sponsorship from a U.S. employer.

How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. with an E-2 Visa?

The duration of stay with an E-2 Visa varies depending on the country of origin. It is valid for a period ranging from 3 months to 5 years. The E-2 Visa can be extended indefinitely as long as the investor maintains the qualifying investment.

Can I Work on an E-2 Visa?

A foreign investor or employee holding an E-2 Visa can only engage in the specific activity for which the visa was granted. In addition, there are conditions that the parent company must meet, such as establishing a relationship between organizations and requiring the employee to have executive, supervisory, or essential skills in a subsidiary capacity. Other terms and conditions of employment remain unchanged. An E-2 employee can work for the parent company or a subsidiary of the treaty organization.

Can an Immigration Lawyer Speed Up the Process of an E-2 Visa?

No, an immigration lawyer cannot expedite the E-2 Visa process. However, an immigration lawyer can provide comprehensive services and guidance on migration, citizenship, business immigration issues, and the process of obtaining work. In addition, they can help navigate the application process and ensure all necessary documentation is properly prepared, reducing the likelihood of delays in the E-2 Visa application.

Businesses for Sale to Investors

The type of business to invest in depends on the investor’s interests. Options include investing a substantial amount in multinational corporations, purchasing franchises, restaurants, consulting businesses, or buying existing businesses. As long as the investor makes a significant investment in the business, it can qualify. Popular choices include franchises, restaurants, and consulting businesses, which contribute to the U.S. economy. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Commerce website, SelectUSA.

Is E-2 a Dual Intent Visa?

Yes, the E-2 visa is a dual intent visa. This means that it allows a foreign national to have two intentions: entering the United States on a temporary, nonimmigrant basis and pursuing permanent residency through an immigrant visa category.

Can I Convert an E-2 Visa to a Green Card?

You can apply for a green card while holding an E-2 visa by changing your status to an immigrant visa. There are various paths to obtaining a green card, including:


  1. EB-5 investor visa through direct or regional center investment.
  2. Green card through your spouse’s employer.
  3. EB1A immigrant visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities.
  4. National interest waiver under the EB-2 visa for advanced degree professionals.
  5. Converting from an E-2 employee to a green card through marriage.


For more details on how to obtain a green card from an E-2 visa, refer to the provided link.

EB5 States is here to assist you in navigating the path to citizenship through investment. We have successfully guided many families through the E-2 immigration process. Schedule an appointment for a one-on-one meeting with Vivek Tandon, Esq., a U.S. lawyer and investment banker.

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FAQ for Business Investor Treaty Visa

How much investment is required for a U.S. treaty visa?

The minimum investment is not defined; however, it has to be substantial to support the investor’s expenses in the U.S., and the investor must have 50% or more ownership of the business.

Am I eligible for the E-2 business investor program?

If you are a resident of a country that has signed the E-2 treaty with the U.S. and are willing to invest in the U.S., then yes, you are eligible.

Can a spouse work under my nonimmigrant visa status?

Spouses of E-2 visa holders are able to work in the U.S. once they apply for work authorization by filling out form I-765. If approved, they are allowed to work in the U.S.

How long does it take to get the E-2 visa?

The estimated timeline is 2-4 months, but it may vary depending on the country you apply to.

Can you work in the USA with an E-2 visa?

Yes, you are eligible to work in the U.S., but only in the business you have invested in or if you are an employee at the organization that sponsored your E-2 visa.

What businesses qualify for the investment?

There is no specific list of businesses under the E-2 treaty as long as the investor has made a significant investment in a business and is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

What happens when my visa expires?

E-2 visa holders are allowed to renew their visas. The extensions are granted for two years, and there are no restrictions on the number of extensions available to E-2 investors.

What happens if the visa is denied?

If the E-2 petition is denied, the investor has two options: filing a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider. These options allow the applicant to have another chance.

How long does it take to obtain Grenada citizenship to qualify for the U.S. Business Treaty Visa?

The ideal timeline is 3-4 months after filing the petition and making the investment.