Hasan Abdullah Esq. a E-2 Visa & Immigration Attorney here in California addresses some of the more commonly asked questions below regarding this topic about buying and selling small businesses utilizing E-2 Visas. You can reach Hasan direct 510-500-1155 - mention BizBen.com for a free consultation.
What is an E-2 Visa?
An E-2 visa is a visa which enables the holder to enter the US to manage and develop an investment which they have made or will make. The investor must be a national of an eligible E-2 treaty country.
What qualifies as an investment?
The business purchased or established must have the future capacity to generate enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and the investor's family. Future capacity means that the potential income generation will be realizable within five years from when the investor starts normal business activity of the enterprise.
How much money must be invested?
There is no minimum. Even a $10,000 investment may be sufficient. The amount invested depends on the cost to purchase the business based on fair market value or cost to obtain assets needed to run the business based on startup costs. You can show investment through receipts, invoices, money transfers, and agreements. You can also invest through escrow contingent on obtaining the E-2.
Examples of E-2 Businesses
Practically any lawful commercial enterprise qualifies. Qualifying E-2 enterprises are often small storefront businesses, which include restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, food markets, dry cleaners, hair salons, flower shops, auto repair shops, car washes, cleaning services, etc. They also include professional businesses from medical and dental offices to architectural firms and Computer/IT services.
Can I bring my family?
Yes, the E-2 investor's children under 21 and their spouse may also obtain visas to enter the US.
Can my spouse work in the US?
Yes, your spouse may apply for work authorization to work anywhere in the US. In a way, this is a shortcut to quickly gain an opportunity to work in the US. Therefore, in some cases, the spouse intending to work outside the E-2 business would choose to be the dependent instead of the primary investor.
How long does it take to get the Visa?
It typically takes weeks to prepare the application with all of the required support documents, and once filed, the visa interview takes place a few days later. Changing status to E-2 while present on a B-1/B-2 visit visa is also possible.
How long may I stay on E-2 status?
The E-2 visa is generally granted for five years, but may be renewed for additional five-year increments. When you are admitted on the visa, you are given two years of status to stay in the US, and may leave and reenter the US as you please. Upon every readmission to the US, you are granted a two-year stay.
Can I get a green card with E-2?
Possibly. If you can show you've invested enough to meet the EB-5 dollar requirements and can create ten jobs, it may be possible. Also, if your spouse works at a company that sponsors their immigration through employment, you may obtain permanent residence through such sponsorship.