Can I Get a Visa to Open My Own Business in the United States

Yes indeed, you can apply for and obtain a visa for purposes of opening and operating your own business in the United States. It’s commonly known as an E-2 investor visa, but note that it’s a temporary visa and not an immigrant visa. You must leave the United States when his or her visa lapses, but extensions can be granted. You must be a citizen of a nation that the United States has a treaty with a nation with which the U.S has a qualifying international agreement with or a nation that has been determined to be a qualifying nation by legislation. You’ll also be required to invest a substantial sum of capital in your new U.S. business. U.S. immigration regulations allow you to start up a new business here or in the alternative, you can purchase an existing business.

What’s a Substantial Sum of Capital?

The applicable U.S. immigration regulations don’t place a dollar sign on what a substantial sum of capital is. The capital must be substantial in relation to the total cost of starting up a new business or buying an existing one. It must also be sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s commitment to operating a successful business and of such an amount that supports the likelihood of a profitable venture. In some cases, the sum of $100,000 will be sufficient, and in other cases, it won’t be, but E-2 visas have been issued for investors with less than $100,000 in capital. Here are a few other general requirements:

  • The enterprise must be a bona fide and active endeavor that produces goods or renders services for profit.
  • The ability of the enterprise cannot be marginal. It must have the ability to generate income within five years of the time the date that the E-2 visa investor’s classification began.
  • The E-2 investor must hold at least a 50% share of the ownership or control of the business.
  • The capital invested must be at risk of being lost should the enterprise fail.
  • The source of the investment funds must be disclosed. Capital derived from criminal activity is not permitted to be used for E-2 purposes.

Employees of E-2 Treaty Investors

If you’re an employee of an E-2 treaty investor, you’re also eligible for E-2 visa classification. The general qualification for the employee of an E-2 treaty investor follow:

  • You must be the same nationality as the treaty investor.
  • You’re required to meet the definition of an employee under applicable law.
  • The nature of your duties must be either executive or supervisory. The duties If you’re employed at a lesser level, there is a special qualifications aptitude requirement that make the lower-level employee essential to the efficient operation of the business. If employed as an executive or supervisor, the employee has ultimate control and responsibility for the overall operation of the business.

How Long Can I Stay in the U.S. on an E-2 Visa?

The maximum initial stay for an E-2 investor or employee is two years. Extension requests might be granted for another two years. There are no restrictions on how many extensions might be granted for an E-2 investor or an employee.

Applying for an E-2 Visa

If you’re lawfully in the United States on a non-immigrant visa, you’ll need to submit an I-129 Petition in order to change your status. If you’re in another country, you’ll need to apply for an E-2 investor visa through the U.S. embassy or consulate in that country. You’ll then apply for entry upon reaching the United States.

Whether you’re an investor or an employee, the application process for an E-2 visa can be complicated and confusing. Our attorneys at Maison Law Immigration Lawyers here in Bakersfield, CA can be of great help in reducing the chances of denial. Contact us with your questions or concerns. Upon being retained by you, our law firm will help you in gathering the appropriate documentation, confirm that all requirements are met, prepare and submit all forms and supporting documentation and communicate with all government entities, including those in your home country. We look forward to watching you, your business and employees succeed here in the United States.