E2 VISAS FOR EMPLOYEES OF A BUSINESS
E2 treaty investment visas are designed to get foreign investors to help boost the US economy by bringing in cash sufficient to start a new business and create jobs for American citizens. The main applicant for an E2 visa is the person who is prepared to invest in a business, either through buying an existing business somewhere in the US, buying a share in one or starting up a new business altogether from scratch. That person is expected to have an active role in the business, either through managing it, directing it and/or developing it. The principal visa holder must belong to one or other of the countries that has a treaty status with the United States.
The E2 employee visa depends on a viable investment and a principal visa holder
There is another category of person who can obtain an E2 visa other than the principal investor. That is a person who will be employed by the business who is considered essential to its running. There are a number of criteria that must be met before the applicant is able to get a visa, which is also called an ‘essential employee E2 visa’.
- The employee must be of the same nationality as the principal E2 visa holder, i.e. the investor. The main visa holder must either own the business outright or own a majority share in a business with a US partner.
- The employee must not occupy a position or do a job in the business that a suitably qualified American citizen could occupy or do.
- The employee must be in a supervisory or managerial role or have such skills that make them indispensable in the running of the business.
- If the employee is to be occupied in a supervisory role, the business must be sufficiently large for the employee to be supervising a major part of the business. It is not acceptable, for instance, for the E2 employee to be supervising only lower level employees in the same business.
- If the employee is to be employed because of their ‘special skills’ these skills will be carefully examined by the visa officials. These skills must be assessed to ascertain whether the person has sufficiently unique skills or has extensive experience and qualifications in the job they will be expected to do and a suitable salary to go with it.
Benefits for E2 visa holders and their dependent families
There are a number of benefits for an E2 visa holder, whether they are the principal visa holder or an employee. E2 visa holders are able to have their spouse and children under 21 live with them as dependents. Unlike other non-immigrant visas their spouse is able to work after applying for an employment authorization card, which is a work permit in all but name. This can have important bearing on the long term possibility of gaining a green card and being able to stay permanently in the US. As an E2 visa holder, despite the limit on the number of years they have initially, the visa can be extended almost indefinitely as long as the investment continues as a viable concern.