To set up a new business or buy a business in the US and be actively involved in it, you must apply for an E-2 Visa. The E-2 is a Non-Immigrant Visa that can be renewed as often as needed. However an E-2 holder is not allowed to apply for permanent status (a Green Card) based on he E-2 Visa .*
Spouses of E-2 Visa holders can apply for an Employment Authorization Document EAD (Work Permit). This gives the right to work for any employer in the US.
Children on E-2 visas are not allowed to work.
The E-2 visa can also be issued to employees of the business owner, if they meet requirements.
- (General overview, for information only.)
- Citizenship of a treaty country.
You must be citizen of a country that the US has a treaty with regarding commerce, navigation, and investing.**
- The amount of money that will be invested must be substantial.
The amount differs per geographic area in the US, for the type of business, etc.
- A credible business plan.
The business must generate more money than is needed to support you and if applicable family members immigrating with you. It must eventually have economic impact in the US (e.g. create or save jobs).
- A US business registration.
- Completed Treaty Trader/Investor Application Form DS-156E.***
- Completed Nom-Immigrant Visa Application DS-160.
- Citizenship of a treaty country.
- If family members immigrate with you they must complete DS-16- too.
A Visa Interview is part of the procedure (but not a Medical Examination).
Because the E-2 is a Non-Immigrant Visa, any child coming with you “ages out” when it turns 21. Aging out means there are no longer immigration rights based on the right of the parent(s). The child must then leave the US or apply for a F-1 Visa to study at a college or university. He/she cannot apply for the DACA exception.
Children that are born while you are in the US, will be US citizens. Having a US born child does not give you the right to stay permanently. A child that is a US citizen can sponsor you when he/she is 21 and has the financial means to do so.
You will be allowed a stay of 2, 3, or 5 years, depending on country of origin. The initial period can be extended for 1, 2 or 5 years. There is no limit to the number of extensions possible.
* E-2 employees can apply for a Green Card based on their E-2 status.
** Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark (excluding Greenland), Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France (including Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and Reunion), Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands (including Aruba and Netherlands Antilles), Norway (excluding Svalbard), Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Congo, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain (including all territories), Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (including Channel Islands and Gibraltar, excluding British territory outside Europe).
*** Applicants already legally residing in the US must file Form I-129.