E2 VISAS AND THE AMOUNT REQUIRED TO BE INVESTED IN A BUSINESS

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E2 investment visas are mainly aimed at potential investors who have sufficient capital to start up a small to medium sized business in the US, purchase an existing business or buy a part share in one. What makes the visa application process a bit unpredictable and uncertain is that there is no precise amount which an investor is required to invest, either as a minimum or a maximum. What is stated in the requirements for an E2 visa applicant is that the amount of investment should be substantial’. E2 investment visas are basically designed to attract aliens who can help to provide new jobs for American citizens by setting up a business here and bringing in the foreign sourced cash to do so.

Rather than giving precise figures to determine what is meant as ‘substantial’, the requirement is that the investor must invest a sufficient amount to maintain a reasonable life style for the investor and his or her family as well as provide jobs for at least 2 Americans.

In practice, the average successful E2 visa applicant is unlikely to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars in a business. If in fact a national of a treaty member has that sort of money to invest, then they can apply for an EB5 visa which can also get them and their dependent family a green card straight away.

So how much is sufficient for a successful visa applicant?

The amount of money has to be ‘substantial’, the meaning of which has already been outlined but it has to be enough to create 2 jobs and maintain a sufficient income for the investor and family, too. This could be anything from $75,000 upwards. Investments of between $100,000 and $200,000 are more likely to be successfully accepted than the lower figures. The consideration of the amount that any applicant has available is very much the responsibility of local officials in the embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country. There can be significant variation in what is considered ‘substantial’. It has been reliably reported that applicants from Asian treaty countries, for instance, are less likely to be successful if the amount they have available to invest is at the lower end of the range: i.e. less than $100,000.

The proportionality test

Another factor that officials will take into consideration when looking at the investment amount is how much the applicant has immediately available as a proportion of the total to be invested. This is known as the ‘proportionality test’. It will not be acceptable for an applicant to have a small proportion of the amount needed for investment as personal funds and an intention to raise the rest of the amount through a loan. The proportion available at the time of filing the application for the visa has to be relatively high.

Like other aspects of the E2 visa, there is no precise percentage stipulated. In fact, applicants should attempt to have sufficient available cash to invest the full amount or close to that figure. One is very unlikely to be considered for an E2 visa if the investor only has, say, 10% of the investment required to start or purchase a business and wishes to borrow the rest.

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