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E-2 Small Business Visas: 20 Questions to Consider Before Applying

The E-2 visa is a great way for entrepreneurs — big and small — to start a business in the United States, provide jobs for U.S. workers, and move here with their family.

This is a very useful visa category as — depending on one’s nationality — it can be a 5-year multiple-entry visa which can be renewed indefinitely. We’ve previously explained the basics of this visa category and described how U.S. Immigration defines what is a sufficient investment amount.

Individuals considering an E-2 might also consider the twenty questions below in evaluating whether to jump in and start the process:

  1. How much do I need to invest?
  2. How will I be able to prove the source of my funds?
  3. Can my E-2 investment funds be given to me as a gift?
  4. If I purchase a home or building in the United States, is this considered part of my E-2 investment amount under U.S. immigration regulations?
  5. How many workers do I need to forecast hiring 1, 3, 5 years into the future of the business?
  6. Do I need to have significant experience in the field?
  7. Do I need to have a college degree in the field?
  8. Do I need to actually spend the funds in order to be considered “at risk” for purposes of the E-2 investment, or can I simply place them in a U.S. bank account?
  9. Can an escrow account be helpful in meeting the investment requirement amount?
  10. Can I be a remote worker, operate my business from a co-working space such as WeWork, or do I need a physical office location?
  11. What is the minimum square footage of my office lease?
  12. Do I need to be physically present in the U.S. all of the time to operate my E-2 business?
  13. Do I need to be working in the business day-to-day or can I be a passive owner?
  14. Can I hire family members to work in my business?
  15. Is it better to apply for a change of status to E-2 while in the U.S., or to apply directly at the U.S. Consulate abroad? (Additional Consideration: How are Covid-related Embassy closures affecting the scheduling of visa interviews at U.S. Embassies and U.S. Consulates?)
  16. What is the difference between an E-2 status and E-2 visa?
  17. Can I start the E-2 visa process while in the U.S., but then travel overseas for the visa interview?
  18. What happens when my children turn 21 and can no longer qualify as E-2 dependents?
  19. Is it possible to apply for a Green Card after obtaining the E-2 visa?
  20. Is there a limit on the number of times I can renew E-2 status or visa?

When consulting with an E-2 visa attorney about the above questions and any others, it is good to have a general idea of what type of business is being envisioned, the approximate operating costs and capital available. Speak with a State Bar Board Certified Immigration Attorney to discuss the various complexities of the E-2 visa, and ever-changing landscape to help accurately navigate the application process.


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