The E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

  • November 12, 2013
  • Richard Newman

The E-2 nonimmigrant visa classification allows a national of Japan, which has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States to be admitted to the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. Certain employees of the  company may also be eligible for E-2 classification.

Applying for Change of Status to E-2 visa classification in the United States.

If the treaty investor is in the United States in lawful nonimmigrant status, he or she may file Form I-129 to request change of status to E-2 visa. If a prospective employee is in legal nonimmigrant status, the qualifying E-2 company may file form I-129 on behalf of the employee.

How to obtain E-2 visa classification outside the United States.

An application for E-2 visa is made with the American Embassy in Tokyo.  An application includes evidence of qualifications of the U.S.  enterprise, its ownership, investment, and applicant’s background. When satisfied, the U.S. Embassy will register the U.S. enterprise as an E-2 visa company. Then the Japanese owner or employee makes a visa application and visa appointment using the new online visa application (DS 260).

General Qualifications of a Treaty Investor.

  • To qualify for E-2 visa classification, the treaty investor must:
  • Be a national of Japan, the treaty country.
  • Have invested, or be actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital in a
  • legitimate enterprise in the United States.
  • Be seeking to enter the U.S. solely to develop and direct the investment enterprise.

At least 50% of the U.S. enterprise must be owned by Japanese nationals. A Japanese corporation can qualify if it is owned by Japanese national, or the majority of its stock are traded on Japanese stock exchanges. However, a US green card holder does not qualify as a Japanese national for E visa ownership purposes.

An amount of capital is “substantial” in relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one.  Smaller investments can be considered substantial if the amount of investment is normal for that industry. The amount must also ensure the treaty investor is able to successfully develop and direct the enterprise.

A “marginal” enterprise will not qualify if it does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the treaty investor and his family.

E-2 visa employees.  To qualify the employee must be a Japanese national (same nationality as the treaty country). They must be offered a position as an executive, or manager with supervisory duties.  If the employee will hold a lesser position, they must have essential skills or proven expertise in the specific area of operations.