The E-2 visa is a great visa for entrepreneurs who are nationals of treaty countries and want to come to the U.S. to develop and direct a business. The E-2 investor must make a invest a substantial amount and must show that the company is real and operating. Additionally, the investor must prove that the business will not be marginal, meaning the business must support more than just the investor and his or her family. This means that the investor must hire employees in the U.S.
Below are some common questions we receive from E-2 investors on employee issues:
Do I have to hire employees, or will it work to only hire independent contractors?
We strongly recommend hiring W-2 employees. For startups this can be demonstrated through a business plan that shows you plan to hire W-2 employees. If your industry primarily operates using independent contractors and you are paying significant amounts to these contractors (ie hundreds of thousands of dollars) then you may be able to renew your E-2 visa with this evidence, but we still recommend hiring at least one to two W-2 employees to strengthen your case. Attempting to renew your E-2 visa with only independent contractors is very risky.
Can I hire part-time employees?
Part-time employees are helpful for proving that the business is not marginal, although we also recommend having a couple full-time employees as well. See here for a detailed discussion of the relative strengths of various types of employment.
Is there a minimum salary that I need to pay my employees?
From an immigration perspective there is no requirement that you pay your employees any specific amount, but you should abide by all Federal, State and local labor and employment laws regarding minimum wages.
Do I have to hire U.S. citizens?
No, you are not required to hire U.S. citizens but you should ensure that any employee you hire is authorized to work in the U.S.
Can I hire my family members?
If your family members have authorization to work in the U.S. then they can work for your E-2 business. However, to meet the marginality requirement the government wants to see that the business supports more than just you and your family, so you should also hire employees who are not related to you.
Showing that your business has employees or will hire employees within a 5 year period is an important part of an E-2 application. Proof that you have hired employees is also extremely important if you want to keep renewing your E-2 visa.
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