Investor visa

The E-2 Investor Visa is widely used by foreign entrepreneurs to acquire or incorporate business and operate them in the United States. It also allows the entrepreneur’s spouse to work without restriction in this country. The investor’s children under the age of 21 also benefit from this visa and are allowed to live and study in the United States.

Below you will find additional information about the E-2 investor visa. You may consult your case with Carlos Mauricio Duque, Esq. (U.S. immigration attorney) by calling one of the following telephone numbers:

• Miami, Florida +1 305 436 0155
• Bogotá, Colombia +57 1 426 3975
• México, D.F., México +52 55 4170 3632
• San Salvador, El Salvador +503 2113 3858
• Panamá, Panamá +507 836 5750
• Lima, Perú +51 1 707 5967
• Madrid, España +34 911 239 941
• Buenos Aires, Argentina +54 11 5218 4068
• Caracas, Venezuela +58 212 7715900

E-2 VISA IN GENERAL

The investor visa allows foreign entrepreneurs to enter the U.S. to develop, lead and supervise a business as the principal investor. In addition, the foreign entrepreneur may use this visa category to benefit his foreign employees who are citizens of his own country and who are important to the business operation, such as managers, executive managers or specialized employees.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE E-2 VISA

The E-2 Investor Visa requires an investment in an active enterprise in the U.S. The enterprise must produce goods or services. Passive enterprises are not eligible. An example of a passive enterprise are those made in real estate without intentions of urban or farm development.

Additionally, the investment must be at risk when the foreign entrepreneur applies for the E-2 Investor Visa. For example, money that an investor has in his or her private bank account cannot be considered as a part of the investment. Money should be invested in the enterprise and subject to gains or losses resulting from the business operation.

HOW MUCH MONEY MUST BE INVESTED TO QUALIFY FOR AN E-2 VISA?

The important question here is how much should be invested to get the investor visa. Remember that an “investment” may be: (1) buying an existent business or (2) establishing a cms business.

In both cases the investment must be enough to persuade the consular officer that the foreign entrepreneur is committed to the successful operation of the business and sufficient to execute the business plan. Thus, according to this criteria, there is no a specific amount of money that should be invested. It depends upon the type of business that you are buying or starting.

The definition of “investment” is not limited to cash. The foreign entrepreneur may include as part of the investment items such as goods, equipment, or inventory.

CONTROL IS IMPORTANT

The foreign entrepreneur must have control over the company in which he will invest or that he will create. The foreign entrepreneur has this power if he owns at least 51 percent of the company’s shares or through legal mechanisms that allow him to control the business.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Foreigns who live legally in the United States may apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to change their status to an E-2 Investor. It is very important to bear in mind that this status change may only can be requested if the applicant lives legally in the U.S.

For example, imagine that a Colombian entrepreneur has a B-2 visa that he uses to enter the U.S. The Customs officer allows him to stay for 6 months. 15 days after entering the country an American businessman offers him a excellent opportunity to purchase a company. The Colombian citizen could buy this company and use this investment to apply before USCIS to change his immigration status from B-2 Visitor to E-2 Investor.

When USCIS approves the change of status request, the entrepreneur will be given his cms status for two years. The E-2 investor status can be extended almost indefinitely if the company continues its operations in the United States.

The Immigration Service offers accelerated processing for E-2 Investors called “premium processing”. If the foreign entrepreneur requests a change of status and pays for “premium processing” USCIS will adjudicate the case in 15 days.

CHANGE OF STATUS VS. CONSULAR PROCESSING

Now comes a very important consideration and we will continue with our example of the Colombian entrepreneur to better understand it. Imagine that the Colombian entrepreneur successfully applied to USCIS to change his status from B-2 Visitor to E-2 Investor. Two months later the Colombian entrepreneur decides to temporarily travel back to Colombia. After three months in Colombia the entrepreneur decides to travel back to the United States. However, at this point the entrepreneur realizes that his passport only has a visitor visa (B-1 B-2) stamped. If he applied for admission at the border with this passport, the customs officer will not be able to admit him with any other status except for visitor status.

The conclusion is as follows: if the entrepreneur is willing to remain in the U.S. without being able to travel abroad (which is very unlikely) he may apply for a change of status in the U.S., receive the two-year approval and continue renewing that status as long as the enterprise continues to produce goods or services. However, if this foreign entrepreneur wants to travel abroad and reenter the United States as an E-2 Investor, he or she must the visa application at the corresponding U.S. Embassy.

CONSULAR PROCESSING

The foreign entrepreneur may apply for an E-2 Investor Visa at the U.S. Embassy or consulate of his or her country. When the case is approved a consular officer will stamp the E-2 Investor Visa in the entrepreneur’s passport. Processing times vary depending on the country.

Individuals who hold E-2 Investor Visas may remain in the United States for the period of authorized stay, and may travel abroad and return to the United States to their E-2 status.

If you wish to consult your case with Carlos Mauricio Duque, Esq., you may call one of the following telephone numbers:

• Miami, Florida +1 305 436 0155
• Bogotá, Colombia +57 1 426 3975
• México, D.F., México +52 55 4170 3632
• San Salvador, El Salvador +503 2113 3858
• Panamá, Panamá +507 836 5750
• Lima, Perú +51 1 707 5967
• Madrid, España +34 911 239 941
• Buenos Aires, Argentina +54 11 5218 4068
• Caracas, Venezuela +58 212 7715900

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