E2 Visas for Investors and Employees

Your passport to the US market

If you plan on moving to the US to manage an entrepreneurial venture there, you may need to obtain legal permission to live and work in the country. The E2 visa enables entrepreneurs to achieve this goal. 

The E2 visa allows entrepreneurs from certain countries to be admitted to the US for the purpose of directing and developing a US company in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital.

Although the US company can be a new startup venture, the E2 visa is also valid for entrepreneurs who purchase a majority ownership of an existing profitable company in the United States.

Certain employees of the E2 company are also eligible for the E2 visa.

E2 Visa Infographics

Click image to enlarge



Who can get the E2 visa?

As of January 2020, citizens of the following countries are eligible to apply for the E2 Investor Visa: Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Can family members also receive a visa?

Spouses and dependent children can also apply for a derivative E2 visa. Unlike the nationality requirement for the primary E2 visa, there is no nationality requirement for the spouse or child. The spouse will also be eligible to receive work authorization in the US.

Can employers use the E2 visa to send employees to the US?

Employers of entrepreneurial ventures may use the E2 visa to send key employees to the US. However, employers may choose to instead use the L-1 visa to transfer their employee to the US office. Jordan Counsel can help you choose the visa option that best fits your situation.

After working in the US with an E2 visa, will I be eligible for a US green card?

Because the E2 Investor Visa is in the nonimmigrant category, E2 visa holders are NOT on the path to obtaining permanent residence or a green card. If getting a green card is a priority, Jordan Counsel can work with you to choose other options (eg, EB-5 visa or L-1 visa).


What timelines are involved?

  • The time to PROCESS the E2 visa application varies, but typically lasts one to six months.
  • The E2 visa authorizes TRAVEL to the US.
    • The VALIDITY period of the E2 visa varies based on the nationality of the visa applicant.
    • Some visas allow multiple ENTRIES to the US.
  • Upon each entry to the US, the E2 visa holder receives permission to REMAIN in the US for 24 consecutive months.
  • E2 visas can be RENEWED an unlimited number of times.

What questions will be asked during the in-person interview at the US Consulate?

Questions often follow some themes:

  • Is the business expected to generate just enough money for the applicant to live in the US?
  • Is the invested capital part of a scheme to launder dirty money, or was the money legally obtained?
  • Is that initial investment enough?
  • What skills does the E2 applicant have for successfully directing and developing the company?

Do I need to submit a business plan with my E2 visa application?

Individual investors who are starting a new business in the US must submit a business plan with their E2 visa application. Jordan Counsel can work with you to develop a business plan that is compliant with the E2 visa application requirements.

What percentage of E2 applications are approved?

Because each E2 visa application should stand on its own merits, you should not rely on historical data. Nevertheless, in 2018 25% of E-2 applications were initially refused. However, initial refusals can be overcome after the applicant submits additional material (eg, supporting references for assumptions in the business plan). In 2018, when including the number of applications which were overcome, the adjusted success rate of E2 applications was slightly higher than 90%.


How big must my investment be?

There is no magic number for the threshold of “substantial amount” of money that must be invested in the business. For example, the “substantial amount” required for a startup with low overhead costs may be lower when compared to the “substantial amount” required for a startup with significantly higher overhead costs. Nevertheless, you can see our E2 visa investment guideline below to get a rough idea of the level of investment you should expect to demonstrate in your E2 visa application.

What is included in the calculation of the 'initial investment'?

The initial investment includes:

  • Intellectual property
  • Commercial goods
  • Office or manufacturing equipment
  • Real estate purchases or leases
  • Legal fees for business formation
  • Operating cash

An E2 business cannot be "marginal." What does that mean?

Because the E2 is an “investor visa," your business should help grow the US economy. A "marginal" business--which only generates enough revenue to cover the living expenses and salary of the E2 visa holder--cannot be the basis of an E2 visa application because such a business does not grow the US economy. To demonstrate that your E2 business is not marginal, your US company should do two things:
  • Employ at least one American (or US green card holder)
  • Include other American companies in its supply chain and/or distribution channel

Isn’t it crazy that I have to invest so much money in my US business before my visa is approved?

To understand this requirement, it is important to remember two things about the E2 visa:
  • The E2 visa allows entrepreneurs to develop a company, not just develop an idea. The visa application must therefore demonstrate that the business is more than just an idea.
  • You can direct and develop a US business while living overseas and making frequent business trips to the US. But local management would be better. The E2 visa allows entrepreneurs to live in the US to direct and develop their US business locally, instead of from overseas.

Guideline for your initial investment

Your E2 visa application must demonstrate that you have already actively invested a substantial amount of money in your US company. There is no absolute or relative minimum amount required for your initial investment because every E2 visa application is evaluated by reviewing the totality of the applicant’s circumstances. Nevertheless the following scale will give you a rough idea of the amount other successful E2 visa applicants have invested in their businesses.

Total Startup Costs








$400,000 to $500,000


$600,000 to $3 million


> $3 million



Your E2 visa application must demonstrate that you have already made a substantial investment in your business. Many E2 visa applicants are naturally hesitant to invest $100,000 (or more) in their new US business if there is a risk that their visa application will not be approved. Jordan Counsel can help you lower that risk.

To mitigate the risk associated with investing a large amount of money into a new business before your E2 visa application is approved, you can use escrow accounts for the following expenditures:

  • Purchasing a franchise
  • Purchasing expensive capital equipment
  • Leasing a commercial space

To append your purchase or lease agreement, Jordan Counsel can draft an escrow agreement that stipulates that you will place funds for the transaction into an escrow account while you and the seller (or lessor) wait for approval of your E2 visa application. Once your E2 visa application is approved, your funds will be disbursed from the escrow account directly to the seller.  

In the event that your E2 visa application is not approved, two things will happen:

  1. Your purchase/lease agreement with the seller will be voided
  2. The money you have placed into the escrow account will be returned to you.

This strategy only works if the seller/lessor is willing to enter into an escrow agreement with you. Some large franchisors are already familiar with E2 visas and are willing to enter into escrow agreements with E2 applicants. Other vendors may not have much experience dealing with foreign entrepreneurs and may need to be convinced (through negotiations) to use an escrow account.









  • E2 Spouse/Dependent Application
  • Business Plan
  • Business Formation
  • Franchise Purchase
  • Shareholder Agreement
  • eCommerce Terms of Use

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