U.S. immigration policy supports investors and foreign commerce in a variety of ways. The E-2 “treaty investor” visa is one method of ensuring healthy commerce between the U.S. and certain countries of the world.
A treaty investor is defined as a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation or Bilateral Investment Treaty or other arrangement such as NAFTA (Canada and Mexico). You should be coming to the US to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested, or are actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a legitimate enterprise. The question of how much money is considered to be “substantial” is not defined, but practice shows that the U.S. government is generally looking for at least an investment amount of US$100,000 – $150,000.
Your spouse and children may join you under the same status. Spouses are eligible for employment authorization and children are able to attend school. Also your employees, or the employees of your treaty company, may also be eligible for E-2 status.
Application for the E-2 visa is made either at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence, or with the U.S. Immigration Services if you are already in the U.S. and are seeking a change of status. If approved, you will be granted an initial stay of 2 years, and are able to extend your E-1 status indefinitely in 2 year increments.