How to Get a U.S. Visa through Investment

Previously, we discussed how accredited investors who have lawfully obtained $500,000 and wish to invest that amount in a U.S. enterprise through the EB-5 program will qualify for a U.S. visa (see our article on EB-5 Strategies for more information). But what about those who are interested in coming to the U.S. through investment, but don’t have $500,000 sitting in the bank that they’re ready to invest? If you are a member of a treaty trader country, then the E-2 visa is an excellent option for you to obtain your U.S. visa through investment.

To qualify for an E-2 visa, you must have the citizenship of a treaty country. Visit the State Department’s list of treaty countries to determine whether your country is a party to a qualifying treaty. Keep in mind that if you are planning on investing in the U.S. on behalf of a partnership or a corporate entity, the entity must have the citizenship of a treaty country in order to be eligible.[1] When multiple parties are involved, the rule of thumb is that a business can solicit the E-2 visa so long as persons with the treaty country’s nationality possess at least 50 percent ownership. [2] For example, if a corporate entity is owned by one Chinese national (50%) and one Canadian national (50%), that would satisfy E-2 nationality requirements even though China is not a party to a qualifying treaty.

Exactly how much you have to invest in the U.S. to qualify for an E-2 visa really depends on the type of enterprise you invest in; there is no bright-line rule. The regulations state that the investment enterprise must be “substantial”, meaning that it should have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family. [3] If the investment is in its early stages, then the applicant will have to prove that the enterprise should have the capacity to generate such income within five years from the date that the treaty investor’s E-2 classification begins.[4]

The decision on how much to invest in any given enterprise is truly fact-dependent. The amount of money needed to establish a nail salon, which would involve purchasing of equipment, retail space, hiring full-time employees, and so forth might be higher than that needed to establish a cosmetics company that sells door-to-door. Generally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is more concerned with whether the investment funds will be sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise than with any particular amount. [5]

If you are interested in obtaining a U.S. visa through the E-2 visa program and you would like more information on the application process, contact a qualified immigration attorney for more information.

[1] “Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors” U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, available here.

[2] Id.

[3] “E-2 Treaty Investors”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Last reviewed/updated -4/14/2010, available here.

[4] 8 CFR 214.2(e)(15).

[5] “Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors” U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, available here.

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