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Differences Between E-2 Visa and International Entrepreneur Rule

Man considering his options

The International Entrepreneur Rule is a new visa program that allows entrepreneurs to live and work in the U.S.  This visa option gives entrepreneurs the ability to come to the U.S. for up to 5 years if they meet certain conditions.

You can find out more about the detailed International Entrepreneur Rule requirements by clicking here.

You can find see common questions and answers related to the entrepreneurial rule by clicking here for series 1 and here for series 2. 

Another popular investor visa is the E-2 visa.  An E-2 visa is only available to nationals of certain countries and can be a great option for those who want to buy or start a business in the U.S.

You can find out more about the E-2 visa by clicking here.

The International Entrepreneur Rule and the E-2 visa have some similarities, but are very different.

The table below describes some of the key features of each program:

Topic /Question E-2 Visa International Entrepreneur Rule
How long is the visa/status issued for? Maximum period of 5 years when initially granted but can be renewed indefinitely.  For some countries the maximum visa issuance time is 3 months. 30 Month initial grant with the ability to extend for another 30 months if certain criteria have been met.
Is there an investment amount requirement? Yes but no specific amount and the investment amount depends on the type of business. The investment can be as low as $50,000 in some cases. Investment amount is not specific but if qualifying based on investment, then the investment amount must be $250,000 from a qualified investor.
Does the investment have to be made by the entrepreneur? For an e-2 investor visa, the investment must be made by the entrepreneur, but this is not required for an E-2 employee visa. No. The entrepreneur does not have to invest anything.
How many jobs must be created? No set amount. Generally 3 after 5 years would be required to renew. No set amount but the business must be set up to create jobs.  One of the ways to renew is to create 5 full-time jobs.
Who must be hired? No specific requirements but the workers have to be in the U.S. No specific requirements but the workers have to be in the U.S.
Can you obtain the immigration benefit if you purchase an existing business? Yes This immigration benefit is usually obtained when the business is a start up that requires investors
Do you need a business plan? Normally yes. If you are buying a business, a business plan may not be required. Yes
Do you have to show where the money came from? Yes. An E-2 visa has a strict source of funds requirements. No
Who must own the company? Nationals of the Treaty Country must own at least 50% of the business. Entrepreneur must own at least 10% of company initially.
Is there a nationality requirement? Yes No
Does the entrepreneur have to have an active role? Yes Yes
Does the status lead to a green card? No No
How are family treated? Spouse and children under 21 can come to the U.S.  Both can go to school but only spouse can apply for work authorization. Spouse and children under 21 can come to the U.S.  Both can go to school but only spouse can apply for work authorization.
Forms filed DS-160 or I-129 I-941
Level of Complexity of the Visa Process Moderate Moderate

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We are happy to offer our IER guide that describes the visa requirements, and other advise to assist with your visa application.
For more info visit our IER service Page or schedule a consultation so we can handle your E-2 visa process. You can also sign up for a Free IER Visa Webinar here.