Immigration Lawyers

E2 visa to the US – what is it and how to get one?

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An E2 visa is a specific type of US investment visa that allows foreign nationals (including Israeli citizens) to move to the US to run a business, with their spouse, children, and key employees \ managers. In this article, a US immigration lawyer will explain the process and requirements.

Many Israelis dream of doing business in land of unlimited opportunities. From the multi-million dollar startup to the modest Dead Sea cosmetics shop, having a business in New York or selling your merchandise on Hollywood Avenue are a mark of pride and success. Currently, many Israelis are investing in the US, and many others are exploring ways to do so.

You could invest in the US remotely, buying shares in companies that do not require monitoring them closely. However, if you invest in an active business that requires personal supervision by you or by key employees, the investor gets the honor and opportunity of moving to the US, to better to control the investment and development of the business.

Until recently, the possibility of managing your investments in the US was mainly available to Israeli citizens with an additional citizenship, or “E-1 traders” in companies doing business with Israel. However, since 2019, this option was opened to all Israeli citizens, following a reciprocal agreement with the United States (which now allows Americans to obtain a B5 investment visa in Israel). E2 US investment visas made up the lion’s share of the 787 E investor visas issued to Israelis in 2023.

To exercise the right to obtain an investor visa to the US, Israelis must meet the requirements and follow procedures set by the US immigration authorities. Some of these steps include showing proof of business activity before you apply for the visa. Accordingly, it is important to plan out the E2 visa application process from the start.

What is an E2 Investor Visa to the US?

An investment visa, also known as an “E-2 visa,” is granted to Israeli citizens for the purpose of establishing a business in the USA or investing in an existing, already active business. This visa allows holders to reside in or make frequent visits to the US to operate the business. A basic requirement for obtaining the visa is foreign ownership of at least 50% of the business in which the visa holder will invest. It is important that visa applicants demonstrate that their main motivation is to make a business investment, not merely the opportunity to reside in the US. Another important condition is that the business should not be in the fields of stock market investments, shares, or real estate – at noted above, passive investments that do not require presence in the US are not eligible for this visa type.

What are the Conditions for Obtaining an E2 Investment Visa to the US?

The conditions obtaining an investor visa are flexible, meaning that the criteria do not always specify certain amounts or specific conditions to be met, beyond a “significant amount” and a contribution to US economy and employment. There is not specific no minimum amount of investment required to obtain an investment visa. Therefore, there is no simple answer to how much money needs to be invested to be eligible for the visa.

The approach to this matter is not uniform and depends on variables such as the US location where the investment is made, the specific type of business, and the projected number of US employees in the enterprise.

There is also no requirement for specific professional experience or academic degree on part of the visa holder, but it is important to show that the applicants have the required competence to supervise the specific business and ensure is thrives, to the satisfaction of US immigration authorities.

A central condition for obtaining an investment visa is presenting a detailed business plan for the next 5 years. The plan must detail the state of the business and present data such as company background, relevant financial information, and future forecasts. It is important to emphasize that it is not enough to create a business plan for obtaining the visa; it must be shown that it is being implemented. For example, proof must be provided such as rental payments for the business premises, salary payments to employees, purchase of equipment for the business (such as computers, mobile phones, office supplies, etc.), purchase of vehicles for the business, and so on.

Additionally, an accountant certified in the US must provide an official confirmation of the applicants’ ownership of the business and their percentage share in the business. These conditions are only part of the requirements for obtaining an investment visa to the United States, and for more in-depth information, it is recommended to consult a US immigration law attorney.E2 visa to the US – what is it and how to get one?

Are Family Members Eligible for a Visa to the US?

The answer is yes. Immediate family members of visa holders – unmarried children under 21, and spouses – may receive derivative visas in the US when accompanying the visa holder. Furthermore, they receive the right to live, study and kn the US. Furthermore, the spouse can work anywhere in the US Unlike the original E2 visa holder, they are not limited to working at the business the E2 visa investment is based upon.

However, only married spouses are eligible for this purpose. US does not recognize common-law relationships or other forms of formalized partnerships for this purpose. This may pose an obstacle for many Israelis who are not married for various reasons. Our office assists Israelis in handling civil marriages abroad (in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Georgia, as well as single-party civil marriages or even without the presence of the couple abroad.

What Additional Benefits Does the E-2 Visa Offer?

In addition to the various benefits mentioned above, there is a wide range of benefits and rights that holders of the investor visa to the US can receive. Firstly, obtaining this visa also grants a social security number, allowing holders and their accompanying family members to enjoy various medical and economic rights in the US. Additionally, E-2 visa holders enjoy preferential terms for loans, such as purchasing a car or a house. They can also invite Israeli employees as business managers or key workers for their business in the US.

Beyond all the above, as we mentioned earlier, the E-2 visa is initially granted for a period of 2 years, but it can be extended thereafter, for as long as the business is active. Our experience shows that many holders of this visa indeed choose to stay in the US for extended periods, allowing them to accumulate significant savings, which they can later use upon returning to Israel for purposes such as investment, purchasing a house, or even early retirement. However, it is important to emphasize that there is no obligation under the visa conditions to actually permanently reside in the US, and this is left to the visa holders’ discretion.

Can the Investor Visa to the US Serve as a Basis for Obtaining a Green Card?

Many prospective Israeli investors ask us this. Unfortunately, we also receive such questions from those who already hold an investor visa. It is important to understand that one of the central conditions for obtaining an investor visa is a declaration of no intention to settle in the US. This is because the visa is not intended for that purpose (a “nonimmigrant visa”, similar to a tourist visa).

Therefore, if obtaining a green card is your primary objective, it may be better to consider applying for a different visa that would also allow for settling in the US. For example, the EB-5 visa, while requiring a much higher investment amount (at least 900,000 USD if investing in a particularly challenging area), can allow you to issue a Green Card after 2 years of the business being active.

In rare cases, it may be possible to to apply for a Green Card while holding an E-2 visa, but this is a complex process that is highly recommended to be assisted by a lawyer specializing in US immigration law. It should also be noted that children born in the US to investor visa holders are generally entitled to US citizenship by birth. Furthermore, once they reach the age of 21, they can apply to issue a green card for their parents.

E2 US Investment Visa – Contact a US Immigration Lawyer

Above, we have provided a detailed explanation of the E2 US investor visa, the process required to issue it, and the possibility of immigrating with this visa accompanied by family members. As you may have noticed, the process and requirements may be quite complex. Prior planning and building a business plan are required to obtain this prestigious and desirable visa. Therefore, it is highly recommended to be assisted in this process by a US visa lawyer, experienced in handling such procedures.

Furthermore, if the exact criteria of the E2 investment visa are a bad fit for your condition, we may help you find an alternative, seeing whether, for example, an E-1, EB-5 or L-1 visa would be a better fit.

If you have any further questions on the subject, you can contact our office, and we will be happy to help. Our lawyers, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, specialize in US immigration law and provide comprehensive legal support to our clients throughout the entire visa application process, based on extensive professional experience.

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