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What Is the Minimum Investment Required for an E-2 Visa?


The E-2 treaty visa is designed for foreign nationals who wish to live and work in the United States by investing in a U.S. business. This visa allows entrepreneurs to make a meaningful economic impact through investment, granting them E-2 visa status in return.

While E-2 is not an immigrant visa, which means it does not provide investors with a direct pathway to a U.S. Green Card or citizenship, it can offer a viable non-immigrant alternative to individuals who would like to set up a business in the United States.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the E-2 visa for foreign investors, while providing detailed insight into the investment requirements.

E-2 Visa at a Glance

One of the key advantages of the E-2 visa is its lack of a fixed minimum investment requirement, setting it apart from other investment-based visas that demand high initial investment amounts. This flexibility makes the E-2 visa an accessible and appealing option for many. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires the investment to be “substantial,” which is measured relative to the total value of the business.

To qualify as substantial, the investment must be able to:

  • Acquire an existing business or start a new one;
  • Demonstrate the investor’s serious financial commitment to the business;
  • Ensure the investor’s ability to effectively manage and grow the business.

Although there is no specific minimum investment amount for the E-2 visa, immigration experts often advise not to invest less than $100,000. The rationale is that a larger investment can more convincingly show the investor’s commitment to the business, potentially simplifying the application process.

Investors are required to demonstrate that their E 2 investment is substantial and committed to a legitimate enterprise, putting them at financial risk if the business fails. To meet this requirement, investors can present a variety of evidence, including:

  • Copies of money orders and checks;
  • Relevant personal and business bank account statements;
  • Detailed lists of goods and materials purchased with accompanying financial records for the investment;
  • Lease agreements;
  • Initial agreements such as term sheets, letters of intent, or memorandums of understanding;
  • Bills of sale;
  • Escrow agreement documents;
  • Documentation of loans and mortgages;
  • Tables showing how the business is capitalized;
  • Analyses assessing the value of the business’s assets;
  • Agreements for purchasing;
  • Studies valuing company shares;
  • Agreements for buying shares, along with records of meetings, stock ledgers, certificates, and proof of payment for shares.

To be eligible for the E2 treaty visa, an investor must hold citizenship in a country that has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States. The list of these E-2 treaty countries includes over 70 nations.

Once granted, the E-2 visa permits a stay of two years, which can be extended in two-year increments indefinitely, as long as the investor maintains the intention to leave the U.S. once the visa expires or is terminated.

There are no specific educational requirements for the E2 visa. However, since the treaty investor will have a significant role in managing and operating the business, they need to prove their ability to do so effectively. The investor’s skills and experience should be directly applicable to the business venture, ensuring they can execute their business strategy successfully.

Engagement in Management Activities

How much a treaty investor needs to be involved in the management of the business depends on how the investment is structured. However, the E-2 program requires treaty investors to be actively involved in business operations.

Every treaty investor must show they plan to play a hands-on role in the management and operation of the E 2 business soon after arriving in the United States. If they don’t, their investment might be seen as passive.

Filing an E-2 Visa Application

Investors Living in the U.S.

E 2 visa applicants located in the United States on a valid nonimmigrant status are required to file Form I-129 along with identification documents and proof of legal status to the USCIS. Additionally, Form I-539 is necessary for each of the investor’s dependents (namely, their spouse and any children under the age of 21) involved in the application.

Those applying from inside the United States can opt for premium processing for an additional fee, which shortens the processing time to roughly 15 days. Without premium processing, the standard timeline for processing an E-2 visa application spans several months, depending on each case.

Investors Applying From Abroad

E-2 visa applicants from outside the United States must apply through the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. The process and requirements for E-2 visa applications can significantly differ from one consulate to another, with some requiring applications to be mailed in, others accepting submissions via email, and more variations. Applicants are advised to consult the website of the relevant consulate to understand the specific instructions before beginning their application.

All applicants are required to complete Form DS-160, and most consulates also ask for Form DS-156E.

After the consulate reviews the submitted application and documents, applicants will be invited to schedule an interview. A successful interview leads to the issuance of an E-2 visa.

Application Fees for an E-2 Visa

As mentioned above, when applying from within the U.S., principal investors must file Form I-129, and their dependents need to submit Form I-539. As of March 2024, the filing fees for these forms are $460 for Form I-129 and $370 for Form I-539. With the USCIS price increase in filing fees, these will increase on April 1, 2024, to $1,015 and $420, respectively.

For those applying from outside the U.S., Form DS-160 must be completed by each applicant, with the filing fee typically around $200, although this can vary across different consulates.

While the submission of Form DS-539E is required by many consulates, it does not come with a filing fee. A nominal fee is also charged upon the issuance of the visa to the investor, which differs from consulate to consulate. It’s common for investors to retain an immigration lawyer while preparing these applications.

Throughout the E-2 visa application process, applicants may encounter various other expenses, including fees for legal services and business plan, biometrics, and business setup costs.

Key Info to Keep in Mind

  • The choice of business venture to invest in is left to the investor, as long as it meets the E-2 criteria. While investors have the liberty to select from a broad range of businesses, the E2 enterprise must not be marginal. In other words, it should generate sufficient income to sustain the investor and their family, while also making a meaningful contribution to the U.S. economy.
  • Even though the minimum investment requirement for the E-2 visa is relatively low, there’s still the risk of losing time and money if the venture doesn’t succeed.
  • Seeking a specialized immigration attorney’s help can offer significant advantages to E-2 investors. The success of an E 2 visa application heavily relies on the performance of the business, which makes strategic planning very important.
  • E-2 investors are expected to submit a detailed business plan with their application. This plan should outline the investment’s purpose, confirm its adequacy for making the business operational, and demonstrate its potential to achieve growth targets. The business plan must comply with specific E-2 guidelines. A well-constructed business plan increases the chances of application approval and minimizes the risk of receiving a request for evidence (RFE) or denial. Consulting firms can assist investors in developing a comprehensive business plan.
  • Dependents of the investor, regardless of their nationality, typically receive the same duration of stay as the treaty investor, with the option to extend their stay as needed. Children of the investor are permitted to study in the U.S., and spouses are eligible to seek employment authorization, allowing them to work outside of the E-2 business, unlike the primary investor.
  • The E-2 visa does not cap the number of times a treaty investor can renew their stay permit, offering the freedom to travel internationally without restrictions on the duration spent outside the U.S. However, E-2 visa holders should carefully monitor their visa status during travel to avoid complications that might occur if the visa expires while they are outside the United States.

How to Start the E-2 Visa Process

The E-2 visa is known for its flexible investment threshold and provides a cost-effective path to the United States, with many investors opting for an investment near the $100,000 mark.

With the help of experienced industry professionals, the E-2 visa can also serve as a step toward obtaining the EB-5 visa, which offers a direct pathway to permanent residency with a subsequent opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship.

EB5AN has helped more than 2,300 families from 60 countries relocate to the United States as lawful permanent residents. Our expert team has more than a decade of experience, and offers clients first-rate, low-risk EB-5 regional center projects with 100% USCIS project approval rate to date.

If you would like to learn more about the E-2 visa, please book a call with our team, who can assist you in successfully obtaining an investment visa in the United States.