How Buying a Business Can Help You Get a U.S. Visa

E2 Foreign Investor Visa

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How Your Fastest, Cheapest Way to Immigrate to the U.S. May Be an E-2 Investor Visa

Key Advantages

One of the fastest ways of establishing U.S. residence with perhaps the least amount of hassle and cost may be a little-known method, the E-2 Investor Visa.

Basically, all that is needed is getting a controlling interest in an investment or business, or in other words, buying a business.

For comparison, an E2 approval is typically 16 to 20 weeks in Britain, while H1B visas (for comparison) for temporary skilled workers have years-long waiting lists for countries like India. (source: workpermit.com)

This may be the cheapest way for some individuals, as there is no specified minimum investment.

While the U.S. does not set a specific investment amount, (it vaguely states that a business owner must invest a "substantial amount of capital" that generates "more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his or her family,") generally speaking, $100,000 to 150,000 invested in the US is considered enough. (Source: Hodkinson Law Group)

While the investor must technically be the source of invested funds and from a treaty country, personal loans from relatives or friends can be considered part of your investment as long as the business itself is not collateral for the loan, as well as gifts of funds. (source: RapidUSA Visas)

In fact, this visa may effectively act as a “permanent visa,” because although it must be renewed every other year, there is no limit to how many times one can renew.

Unlike other visas, there are no quota restrictions for E-2 Visas.

28,290 E2's were issued in 2005, an increase of approximately 40% since 1997.

For other examples, people from Japan attained 12,010 E2 visas in 2005, up 16 percent from 1997. UK citizens were granted 3,170 E2 visas, an increase of 47 percent from 1997. Germans were issued 3,066 visas in 2005, up 85 percent from 1997. At 2,169, the number of E2's issued to South Koreans in 2005 more than doubled from 1997.

Of course, some important considerations include: how this visa matches an individual's unique situation; how an investor "contributes" to the US economy, i.e. buying / running up a small shop alone may not be enough; investor visas are available only to listed "treaty nations"

E-2 Visa Dependents

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age, regardless of nationality, may receive derivative E-2 visas in order to accompany the principal alien.

Dependents may seek employment in the US by applying for Employment Authorization using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Children under 21 cannot apply for work, only the spouse of the E2 holder.

How to Apply

Applicants can apply for this visa at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate having jurisdiction over their place of permanent residence. An interview at the embassy consular section is required for visa applicants from age 14 through 79, as part of the visa application process. Other ages generally do not require an interview, unless requested by the local embassy or consulate.

Usually at the interview, an ink-free, digital fingerprint scan will be taken. If additional screening is need, applicants will be notified

Visa applicants should review specific requirements for their country as this process can vary from country to country.

Required Documentation

Besides a nonrefundable U.S.$100 application fee (application processing fees for nonimmigrant visas and border crossing cards increased from $100 to $131 starting January 1, 2008), these forms will need to be submitted:

  • Application Forms DS-156 and DS-156E, completed and signed.
  • Passport valid for travel to United States for at least six months beyond the applicant’s intended period of stay in the United States. If more than one person is included, each person must complete an application.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph
  • All male nonimmigrant visa applicants between ages 16 - 45, regardless of nationality and where they apply, must complete and submit form DS-157 along with Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-156E).
  • Interview at the local embassy / consular section is required for almost all visa applicants. (see below)


Disclaimer: This article is written for educational purposes only and as such should not be relied upon as legal or financial advice in any way. Immigration law is a specialized area that continues to evolve in the wake of 9-11. Readers are advised to seek professional legal or legal counsel on their own particular situation.

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Comments 5 comments

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Interesting article! Thanks for sharing. The only downfall with this is, you got to have money.


ADAM 2 years ago

I would like to apply E-2 Investor Visa by next year


hilda fernandes 2 years ago

I m illegal immigrant have buisness in usa for last 4yrs I pay my taxes for last 7yrs is there any way I could apply for the permanent recedance


jycmba profile image

jycmba 21 months ago from Los Angeles CA Author

I'd check with an immigration lawyer on this. Too many things to consider, and I'm not a legal expert.


jycmba profile image

jycmba 21 months ago from Los Angeles CA Author

Best of luck!

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