Can I Set Up Another Business While on an E-2 visa?

By May 29, 2020October 21st, 2020E-2 Visa, Immigration, Investor Visas

As an entrepreneur, an E-2 investor business owner may come across other good business ideas or businesses that he/she may want to get involved with. For example, an E-2 business owner may want to buy a new business or invest in another business.

The question often arises: Can I purchase or start another business on an E-2 visa?

An E-2 visa holder is permitted to either partially or fully own other companies. You do not need another visa to own another company, but you cannot work at the company.  Mere ownership does not present a problem. There are some considerations though:

  • Ideally, the E-2 visa owner should not receive a salary from the new company he/she owns but instead should take distributions from the company such as dividends.
  • The owner can be involved with the business, but the activities should be limited to overall strategy.
  • The owner should not conduct day to day activities associated with the business.
  • Ideally the company should have employees so that the work that is performed can be attributed to the employees.
  • An E-2 visa holder is only permitted to work at the E-2 enterprise
  • It may be possible to get an E-2 visa for the new company. The company would have to meet the E-2 visa requirements which are outlined here.

If the new business is related to the E-2 business, the owner may provide services to the non E-2 business as long as he/she is providing those services in the capacity of working for the E-2 company.  Normally some type of written service agreement should be in place, but this can also be an oral agreement.

An E-2 visa holder cannot work for a company he/she owns without the proper visa.  As described above, the investor does not have to completely disassociate from the company they own but they should take common sense steps to avoid work. The question of whether something is work will be based on the facts and circumstances, but it is best to avoid the following:

  • Receiving W-2 salary
  • Neglecting to hire any employees
  • Daily visits to the company
  • Management of day to day operations
  • Hold yourself out to clients as working at company
  • Marketing as if you were to be an employee
  • Representations on website and/or invoices that you work at the company

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