Photo: E-2 visas allow immigrants looking to start a business in the U.S., a way to do it
With $50,000 and business plan, noncitizens can come to the U.S. legally under what is known as an E-2 treaty investor visa. That business owner, along with their family, can live in the country legally as long as the business does well enough.
However, the requirements can be difficult to meet, and the pressure of maintaining a flourishing business can be great.
To begin with, the applicant must make a “substantial” investment in the business that is “sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise.”
Mia Pederson, a business owner in California who is in the country on an E-2, said, “You have to have your business almost 80% ready to go before you can apply.”
It also has to be proven that the proposed business can provide some benefit to the local economy by creating jobs or by other means.
“The U.S. government is not interested in what they call marginal investments — businesses that are too small to make any meaningful contribution to the American economy,” said Bobby C. Chung, an immigration attorney who specializes in E-2 visa law.
The E-2 is available to be renewed every 2 to 5 years, but at each renewal period, the owner must be able to prove that his or her business provides benefits to the economy.
Though the E-2 is not the only visa a person can get to start a business in the U.S., it is the least expensive.
In fiscal 2010, 25,500 E-2 visas were issued, making the business owners “temporary visitors.” Children of these business owners are not permitted to stay in the country once they turn 21 unless there acquire a different kind of visas.