How Long Can an E-2 Visa be Issued For?

An E-2 visa is an investor visa that is issued to entrepreneurs who wish to start or buy a business in the U.S.. The investor must invest a certain amount of money in the U.S. (usually much greater than $50,000) and the business must ultimately create U.S. jobs.  The investor must also be from a designated country that the U.S. has an investor treaty with.  Countries all over the globe qualify including Canada, Australia, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Spain, France, Egypt, Senegal, and many more.

An E-2 visa can be issued for up to 5 years but the actual amount of time that it is issued is based on the discretion of the consular officer that adjudicates your petition but also the reciprocity between the applicant’s country and the United States.

Where a 5 year issuance period is available (eg. for a Canadian Citizen), a consular officer has the option of issuing the visa for 5 years or for some lesser period. If the investor seeks to come to the U.S. to run the business indefinitely, the applicant may request a 5 year period (which can later be renewed) for the visa but in some cases the consular officer may issue the visa for less time (eg. 2 years).  The consular officer may issue the visa for less time as he/she may want to revalidate the business plan in a couple of years to see if the business is on track.  When the applicant comes back to renew the visa and the consular officer sees that they have hired employees and that the business is a success, they will usually issue the visa for a 5 year period at that point.

The other significant factor that determines the length of time an E-2 visa is issued for is the reciprocity schedule between the U.S. and the applicant’s country. The reciprocity means the maximum amount of time a non-immigrant visa can be issued for.  For example, many countries have B visas that can be issued for 10 years and this means that the applicant can visit the U.S. multiple times using the same visa and will not have to apply for another one during that time.  In this case though, the applicants typically only have a 6 month stay in the U.S. after which they must leave and reenter.  While reciprocity for E-2 visas for many countries is 5 years it is very low for other countries.  In fact, the reciprocity for some countries is 3 months which creates certain considerations for applicants.

It is important to understand what the 3 months means as this is a complicated area. When an E-2 visa is only valid for 3 months, the 3 months represents the time that an applicant would have to enter after he/she obtained the visa at the consulate.  It does NOT dictate how long you may stay in the U.S. and run your business.  Once the applicant enters the U.S. (once anyone enters on an E-2 even if they have a 5 year E-2 visa and they only have one day left on their visa) they are entitled to 2 years in E-2 status to run their business.  This status can be renewed with USCIS indefinitely OR if the applicant leaves the country after the 3 month period, he/she would renew the visa at a consulate.

The key point to remember in this area of reciprocity is that Visas determine your ability to enter the U.S. and Government Regulation determines how long you can stay for.  For an E-2 visa, regulation determines that when an applicant enters, they are entitled to 2 years on E-2 status as long as they continue to run the business and do not leave the country.

This concept is complicated and you should consult a qualified attorney if you are a citizen of a country that has a low reciprocity period (eg. Bangladesh, Iran, Armenia).

For more practical or legal advice contact Scott Legal, P.C.. We offer services in a number of business areas including, Immigration, New Business set up, Contract review and development and entrepreneurial support. Call 212-223-2964212-223-2964 or email iscott@legalservicesincorporated.com for a consultation.

Ian E. Scott is a Harvard Law School Graduate, lawyer and author of Law School Lowdown: Secrets of Success from the Application Process to Landing Your First Job.  Mr. Scott worked as a corporate litigator in the law firm Cleary Gottlieb and currently runs his own law firm Scott Legal Services, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up. 

 

 

 

20 Comments

  1. George Sander August 30, 2015 4:05 pm

    Hello,

    What if I am garnted a 5 year E-2 investment visa (as a German citizen) and I have to travel for business overseas every month for one week. Do I get 2 additional years every time I travel ?? I do not understand.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    GS

    Reply
    • IanScott August 31, 2015 4:12 am

      Thank you for contacting us. The visa governs your entry to the U.S. and the length of the visa means that you can enter the U.S. during that time period. Each time you enter, you have two years in E-2 status and this is governed by regulation. Even if you have a 5 year visa, and entered the U.S. you are only granted 2 years in E-2 status. If you left a week later and reentered, you would be able to do so as long as your E-2 visa was still valid and then you would be granted two years in E-2 status. Even if you entered the U.S. on the last day of your visa, you would be given 2 years in E-2 status BUT if you left after your E-2 expired, you would have to go back to the consulate to renew your visa before you reentered.

      Reply
  2. Dean February 7, 2016 11:34 pm

    Hi Scott,

    We are Canadian citizens and the wife and I are looking at buying a restaurant in Miami for about USD 70,000. Will we both be able to qualify for E2 Visas. Can one or both of us hold employment with other employers while we run this business.

    Reply
    • IanScott February 7, 2016 11:38 pm

      Thank you for contacting us. We would be happy to assist you and we have processed countless E-2 visas for Canadians. For married couples, we recommend one spouse act as the investor and then the other spouse would get an E-2 spousal visa which lets them work anywhere (including the company that is set up). We would be happy to set up a one hour consultation to go over the E-2 visa requirements.

      Kind regards,

      Reply
  3. Hitesh February 8, 2016 1:01 am

    Hello Ian,

    I am a citizen of India, My friend owns a restaurant in Florida. He is a Canadian on E2 visa in Florida. Can he sponsor me a work permit to be a supervisor at his restaurant. I am currently on work permit in Canada and I hold a US B1/B2 visa

    Reply
  4. Nadine February 17, 2016 11:35 pm

    Hello I have the E 2 visa approved for 5 years. For some reason I also have a stamp on my passport for 1,5 years. Does this require me to go back to the country ( Italy ) and come back to the United States ? My lawyer never said something about, going back before the 5 year visa expariation. I am confused.

    Reply
  5. Nadine February 18, 2016 3:27 pm

    Thank you Scott I’m am arizona the closest country what I have is Mexico or even Canada can I go there ?

    Reply
  6. saim April 5, 2016 9:35 am

    hi i am here in usa on b1b2 visa i want to change my visa to e2 how much time it will take and am i able to get e2 visa here in usa

    Reply
    • IanScott April 5, 2016 3:54 pm

      Thank you very much for contacting us and we welcome the opportunity to help you with your legal needs.

      At your earliest convenience, we would be happy to offer you a consultation with one of our lawyers. If after the consultation you decide to hire us to work on your matter and your billing is greater than $2,500, our $250 one hour consultation fee will be waived and the amount will be applied towards your future bill. (As such, the consultation would be free).

      While some legal questions appear straight forward, most do not have a yes or no answer and a proper answer requires a review of the facts and circumstances as well as an application of legal knowledge. Moreover, almost all questions require follow up and additional analysis that is best done during a consultation.

      We look forward to working with you and please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. For your ease of reference, I have included information below to set up a consultation.

      Please find attached our credit card link to make your $250 consultation payment for a one hour consultation. If you end up hiring the firm and your bill is greater than $2,500, we will apply this consultation fee to your final bill. Once we receive the payment, we can schedule and confirm your appointment. Please reach out if you have any questions.

      https://secure.lawpay.com/pages/scottlegalservices/operating

      Reply
  7. Mohamed May 7, 2016 5:49 pm

    Hello ,
    I am from Egypt and right now , I am on a B1 B2 Visa That is vaild for more 5 months. i Have only been in the US fr 1 month. I am looking to change my B1 B2 while in the Us to an E2.
    I am confused about the 3 Months Visa since i am from Egypt and also about the travel restrictions outside of the US.
    Also regarding the minimum ammount to be invisted,since my business does not require too much money . it is a consulting bsuiness
    Appreciate your advice.

    Reply
    • IanScott May 8, 2016 5:06 pm

      Thank you very much for contacting us and we welcome the opportunity to help you with your legal needs.

      At your earliest convenience, we would be happy to offer you a consultation with one of our lawyers. If after the consultation you decide to hire us to work on your matter and your billing is greater than $2,500, our $250 one hour consultation fee will be waived and the amount will be applied towards your future bill. (As such, the consultation would be free).

      While some legal questions appear straight forward, most do not have a yes or no answer and a proper answer requires a review of the facts and circumstances as well as an application of legal knowledge. Moreover, almost all questions require follow up and additional analysis that is best done during a consultation.

      We look forward to working with you and please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. For your ease of reference, I have included information below to set up a consultation.

      Please find attached our credit card link to make your $250 consultation payment for a one hour consultation. If you end up hiring the firm and your bill is greater than $2,500, we will apply this consultation fee to your final bill. Once we receive the payment, we can schedule and confirm your appointment. Please reach out if you have any questions.

      https://secure.lawpay.com/pages/scottlegalservices/operating

      Reply
  8. Vaneet Chandan August 13, 2016 9:49 am

    Dear Team,

    Plz help me to understand that how I can apply for a Working visa as one my friend has a restaurant in U.S and he required a person for work and he is ready for giving me the Sponsorship for the same,Plz let me know what can I do from India and what he has to do from America

    Plz reply.

    Thanks With Regards

    Reply
    • IanScott August 15, 2016 7:27 am

      Please contact us to set up a one hour paid consultation and we would be happy to review your immigration situation and provide legal advice to you. Kind regards,

      Reply
  9. Pedro silva September 4, 2016 3:51 am

    Ecuador is consider a 3month reciprocity visa ??? How do I know the lenght of each country?

    Reply
    • IanScott September 5, 2016 11:31 am

      Thank you for contacting us. There is a reciprocity schedule that is issued by the U.S. government that shows the validity of each visa by country. Please keep in mind that the visa is only the entry document and each time you enter the U.S. you are granted 2 years on E-2 status regardless of how long the visa has been granted for. Please contact us if you would like to set up a consultation. Kind regards,

      Reply
      • Pedro silva September 7, 2016 10:32 pm

        Thank you,
        If I enter before the 3 months(time of visa issued) and stay for example 7 months in the US and want to go back to my country for one week, I will have to go again to the consulate to get a new 3 month visa To enter again the US, right?

        Reply

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