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E-2 Visa: Treaty Investors and Essential Employees

E-2 status is granted to nationals of a United States treaty countries when either an individual or a company invests a substantial amount of capital in the U.S. Employees of the treaty investor or a company may also be eligible for E-2 status as an Essential Employee status.

To qualify for E-2 Investor:

  1. The applicant must show that the investment is substantial. The substantial amount is related to the amount normally required to purchase or to develop a similar existing business or to establish a new business. The investment funds must be irrevocably committed.
  2. The investment must be non-marginal. The investor must demonstrate that the business will generate more than enough income to support the investor and the family, and will employ US workers
  3. The investment must be active. The business must be a fully operating and must prove that the investor will actively engage in developing and directing the enterprise.

To qualify as an Essential Employee:

In order for an investor employee to be eligible for E-2 essential employee status he/she must be a national of the same country of the investor. The employee may be a manager or supervisor or a worker in a special skills making the employee essential to the company. The employee will have ultimate control and responsibility for the company’s operations.

If the employee is not hired by an individual they must be hired by an enterprise that is a minimum of 50% owned by individuals residing in the United States and is of the same nationality of the worker. The owner of the business must maintain E-2 status. Should the owner not be in the U.S. they must be eligible for E-2 status.

Supervisory and executive duties include those which provide a major component of responsibility and control over the organization for the employee.

A special qualification is that which is required in order to efficiently operate the business. The employee is an expert in in an area of operation and is compensated high salary.

Duration of Stay

A maximum stay of two years will be granted to E-2 status holders. Extensions of up to two years may be provided upon request. There are no limits as to number of extensions obtained. However, E-2 holders must have intention to leave the U.S. once their status is terminated or expired.

If an E-2 status holder temporarily departs the U.S., they may be granted readmission rights for a period of two years upon their return to the U.S.

Conditions and Terms of E-2 Status

In order to maintain E-2 status, only work which was approved may be conducted by the employee or investor. However, an employee may work for a parent company of the treaty organization assuming:

  • The organization is related to the parent company
  • The subsidiary needs the skills provided by the employee
  • Employment conditions and terms remain unchanged

Any substantive changes in the E-2 status conditions or terms must be approved by the USCIS. The definition of a substantive change is an acquisition, merger or other fundamental changes of the organization that affects the employee or investor’s approved position within the company.

Family Members of E-2 Holder

E-2 status holders may bring their spouse and dependent children under 21 years of age. Nationality has no effect on eligibility for these family members. Upon approval of E-2 dependent status family members may be granted a duration of stay equal to that of the employee. A work authorization may be obtained by the spouse and there is no restrictions on eligible jobs for the spouse.

If the E-2 holder temporary leaves the United States family members accompanying them will be granted a readmission period of the same duration as the E-2 status holder. If the family members do not accompany the E-2 holder the readmission period will not apply to them and must apply for an extension based on their prior approval dates.

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