An E-2 visa is an investor visa granted to entrepreneurs who want to start or buy a business in the United States. The investor must invest a substantial amount of money in an enterprise that must ultimately create U.S. jobs. The investor must be from a designated country, meaning a country that has an investor treaty with the United States. We have included a table of the treaty countries with the visa validity period for each country below. Please note that this a point-in-time table and applicants should check current reciprocity times for accuracy. Please also pay special attention to the country-specific footnotes.
To find out more about the E-2 visa requirements, click here.
Visa Validity Period
The amount of time an E-2 visa can be granted for varies by country and depends on the agreement (the legal term is reciprocity) between the applicant’s country and the United States. Some countries, such as Egypt and Bangladesh, have reciprocity periods of as little as 3 months while other countries allow applicants to get an E-2 visa for up to 5 years. Even in cases where the country reciprocity allows the applicant to apply for 5 years, the actual amount of time granted to the applicant is also based on the discretion of the consular officer adjudicating the application. A consular officer may issue less than the maximum period if they would like to monitor the progress of the business and see if the business is on track after a year or two. When the applicant comes back to renew the visa and the consular officer sees that they have hired employees and the business is a success, they are more likely to issue the visa for a 5-year period at that point.
The Reciprocity Period is the maximum amount of time a non-immigrant visa can be issued for. We have included a Reciprocity Table below for the designated E-2 countries. While E-2 visas may be issued for a maximum period of 5 years for most countries, for some countries, it is a very short period (e.g. 3 months).
Period of Stay
Upon entry on an E-2 visa, investors are allowed a maximum stay of two years regardless of how long the visa is valid for. For E-2 investors with multiple entry E-2 visas in their passports, they can leave the U.S. and reenter until the expiration date of their visa and each time they reenter, they are given 2 years in E-2 status. If the visa is still valid, they must then leave the U.S. and reenter.
For example, if an Investor is issued a five-year E-2 Visa, this means that the investor can enter the U.S. during a five-year period. This also means that within that 5-year period, they may travel outside the U.S. and use their E-2 visa to reenter. Each time they enter the U.S. on their E-2 visa, they should be given two years on E-2 status. (We wrote “should” because at times border officials will make an error or passport validity could impact the timing). In most cases though, even if an E-2 visa holder enters the U.S. on the last day before their visa expires, they should be given two years in E-2 status. However, once the visa expires, if they decide to leave the U.S., they will have to apply at a consulate for a new visa to reenter.
So what if an E-2 visa is issued for only 3 months?
When an E-2 visa is only valid for three months and is a single entry visa, it means that the visa holder has three months to enter the U.S. on the E-2 visa. The length of the visa does not dictate how long they may stay in the U.S. and run their business as the same 2-year rule described above applies. That is, once the applicant enters the U.S., they are entitled to two years in E-2 status to run their business. If the applicant leaves the U.S., he/she must apply for a new visa to reenter. If the applicant stays in the U.S., the E-2 status can be renewed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before the end of the 2-year period.
If the investor is already in the U.S. in another status and applies for a change of status with USCIS, they will be given two years in E-2 status. However, since they do not have a visa (which can only be obtained at a U.S. consulate abroad), they will have to apply for an E-2 visa at a U.S. consulate if they decide to travel abroad. For more on the difference between a visa and visa status, click here.
You should work with an experienced immigration attorney to see if you should consider a change of status or to apply for an E-2 visa at a consulate abroad. Click here for a helpful blog post on this issue.
The reciprocity concept is complicated and you should consult a qualified attorney if you decide to apply for an E-2 visa, especially if you are a citizen of a country that has a low reciprocity period. We have written another article – How Long an E-2 Visa can be Issued for? that you can access by clicking here. An experienced E-2 visa attorney can guide you through the process and help you plan while keeping the reciprocity period and your business needs in mind. We have successfully assisted hundreds of E-2 investors in starting their businesses in the U.S. Contact us for a consultation. We are here to help.
How Long Can An E-2 Visa Be Issued For? – E-2 Visa Reciprocity Schedule
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- The E-2 Visa Process Explained – Where Should You Apply for an E-2 Visa? Should You Apply for an E-2 Visa at a Consulate or USCIS through a Change of Status?
- How Long Can an E-2 Visa be Issued for?
- When Should an E-2 Visa Applicant Consider a Change of Status Instead of Consular Processing?
The Government of Bolivia gave notice of termination, effective June 10, 2012, for the bilateral investment treaty between the United States and Bolivia. For more information, please go to the consulate website.
Applies only to British territory in Europe (British Isles, except Republic of Ireland), the Channel Islands and Gibraltar and to “inhabitants” of such territory. This term, as used in the Convention, means “one who resides actually and permanently in a given place, and has his domicile there.” Also, in order to qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty, the alien must be a national of the United Kingdom. Individuals having the nationality of members of the Commonwealth other than the United Kingdom do not qualify for treaty trader or treaty investor status under this treaty.
*The U.S. view is that the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) has dissolved and that the successors that formerly made up the SFRY – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo a continue to be bound by the treaty in force with the SFRY and the time of dissolution.