E-2 Visa

(Treaty Investor) - Registration

The E-2 visa, which is also known as the treaty investor visa or investor visa, is a classic work and residence permit for the United States.

The E-2 visa is based on bilateral agreements that are concluded within the framework of investment projects in the U.S. Currently, there are about 80 nations that maintain such relations with the U.S.

Only nationals of each of the contracting countries, including naturalized persons, can have this status.

The E-2 visa is tied to a particular company and allows the U.S. company that submits the application to hire employees. The official applicant is always the U.S. company for the future employee/investor. It is an option for businesses who invest or have invested substantial capital into the U.S. economy.

All persons (natural or legal) who establish or manage a company in the United States can receive an E-2 status regardless of any previous business activities in their home country.

Entry Requirements

In order to obtain a treaty investor visa/investor visa, the applicant must demonstrate the following and satisfy other requirements:

  • The investor (a person or company) must be a citizen of a treaty country.
  • A company is considered to have the requisite nationality if at least 50% of the company is owned by a national of a treaty country.
  • Companies that operate as public companies have the nationality of the country in which they primarily conduct their trading business in accordance with the E-2 definition.
  • Applicants must either have already invested substantially in the U.S. or be ready to make a substantial investment: the capital for investment must be irrevocably stated!
  • The investment must include a significant or substantial amount of capital.
  • The law does not mention any concrete sums. However, we can speak from experience that a realistic minimum investment amount that is needed in order for a visa to be granted is currently approximately 100,000 U.S. dollars.
  • The U.S. company must already be in business and should optimally already employ U.S. personnel.
  • In every application the entrepreneur must submit proof that it does not intended to conduct its U.S. operation out of naked self-interest to finance its livelihood (and by extension that of the applicant’s family) and that it will operate and add value to the regional U.S. economy. The number of U.S. jobs that the applicant can create is becoming an increasingly important part of the application process.

Visa Validity

The E-2 visa is granted usually for five years. However, the consular office is also able to place time restrictions on the visa.

Theoretically, the company can request 5-year extensions of the visa an infinite number of times as long as the company continues to successfully conduct business in the U.S. and is able to satisfy all of the other entry requirements.

Residence status can be granted by immigration officers at the border for a maximum of two years at a time. These periods are reset when exiting and reentering the country until the visa has expired and must be re-applied for.

Application Process

The company must complete its initial application for E-2 registration and submit it to the relevant U.S. Consulate General of the treaty country. For example, German companies should contact the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt am Main.

The application process requires U.S. companies and company groups to submit extensive documentation about their investment activities as well as that of their employees and investors in order to obtain the visa. After the appropriate U.S. consulate reviews the documents, the applicant will receive an invitation to a personal interview. During the appointment the consular officials will ask questions about the records and decide whether to approve the application. If the applicant’s initial E-2 visa application is approved, then the U.S. company will also automatically receive "E-2 registration".

This registration allows the company to send other nationals of the treaty country to the U.S. site or to employ them according to a very simplified procedure. See also: E visa based on registration

Family Members

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age receive a derivative E-2 visa lasting the same period as the principal applicant’s E-2 visa. Once children reach the American age of majority, they must change their non-immigrant visa status or leave the country.

A spouse can apply for his or her own work permit (Employment Authorization Document EAD) that is not tied to the specific location or company of the principal applicant.

Family members who receive E-2 status can attend public/private educational institutions.

Frequently asked questions about the E-2 visa for the U.S.

Can E-2 visa holders bring their family members to the United States?

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are also granted a derived E-2 visa for the same period as the main applicant. Spouses may also apply for their own Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is not tied to a specific job or the principal applicant's company. This is usually valid for two years, but can be extended for another two years.

Family members under E-2 status can also attend public or private educational institutions. As soon as the children reach the age of majority in the United States, they must either change their nonimmigrant status or leave the country.

Can the Social Security Number be applied for directly at the U.S. consulate?

First of all, the application for a Social Security Number is initially reserved exclusively for certain visa holders. The E-2 category as a work visa allows the application for a Social Security Number or Social Security Card, but with the E-2 visa this is only possible after entry to the United States in an office of the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

However, it is true that the Social Security Administration has an office at the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt / Main. But the services of the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) are mainly reserved for American citizens. This unit is not responsible for processing Social Security Number applications from nonimmigrant visa holders. As mentioned, this can only be arranged in the United States. However, the application for a Social Security Card in the United States is very easy and quick to realize.

Find the most important information on this visa category compiled in one document (PDF) free of charge. 

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