An E-2 Visa is a great visa option for a business or individual who wants to start a business in the U.S.. The full set of E-2 visa requirements can be found by clicking here. One E-2 visa requirement is that the investor has to invest a “substantial amount” of money in the U.S. and the actual amount depends on the type of business that is being started. If the business is one that does not have high start-up costs (e.g. a consulting company) then the investor would have to spend 100% of the amount to get the business up and running and the amount could be as low as $50,000. If the business were to be a car manufacturing plant, then a substantial amount may be 80% of the cost to start the business and could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Three questions that are regularly asked by our clients are:

  1. How much do I have to spend for my E-2 Investment?
  2. How low can my investment be?
  3. What else can I spend money on as I have already spent all that I need to?

The answer related to how much to spend really depends on a number of factors and we explore this question in an article “How Large Does My Investment Amount Have to Be for an E-2 Visa?” you can access by clicking here. One key take away from this article is that even though a service oriented business may cost less than $10,000 to start up, you will often be in a position where you have to invest significantly more than that to get the visa. The thought of spending more money is not very intuitive but it is required in order to get the E-2 visa. Accordingly, the lowest investment amount that we have ever processed is $50,000 for a consulting business where the applicant spent $15,000 and put $35,000 in a business bank account. Most applicants have a significant amount of difficulty coming up with things to spend money on so we have created a list here of some items that we regularly see that increase the investment amount. This list answers the question; “What else can I spend money on for my E-2 Investment?”

Common E-2 Visa Expenses

  • Website set up & hosting
  • Computer
  • Printer/Scanner
  • Inventory (Can be shipped from another Country and does not have to be purchased in the U.S.)
  • Furniture
  • Trademark
  • Intellectual Property purchase or development
  • Employee payroll or Independent contractor payments
  • Legal Fees
  • Lease (some prepay rent for a number of months as you can only include what you paid)
  • Business entity set up costs
  • Office supplies
  • Phones
  • Utilities
  • Training courses (restrictions apply)
  • Tablets/IPad
  • Licensing fees
  • Sponsorship or Trade show appearances
  • Purchase of real property (land building)
  • Car/Truck if exclusively used for business (e.g. a Food delivery business or a Taxi service). It would also be beneficial to license the vehicle as a commercial vehicle.
  • Software
  • Advertising

You should note that E-2 expenses do not have to be made in the United States and can be items that you purchased in the past (even before the business started) as long as you have a receipt.

Poor E-2 Expenses (These expenses are not usually included as they are disregarded and are seen as “reaching” by most Consulates.)

  • Travel Flights (unless for a very specific conference or business related activity).  Travel to and from the U.S to set up the business are usually not included in the investment amount.
  • Travel Accommodations (Hotel)
  • Meals
  • Transportation (taxis, etc.)
  • Entertainment
  • School
  • Expenses directly reimbursed by a client/customer
  • Expenses paid to related parties

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, P.C. specializing in Immigration Law & New Business set-up.

To find out more about our immigration and business services, contact Scott Legal, P.C.


Ian E. Scott, Esq. is the Founder of Scott Legal, P.C. He can be reached at 212-223-2964 or by email at

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