By Maud Poudat | US Immigration Attorney
Posted May 2, 2017
The E-2 visa is a popular investor visa that permits a foreigner to buy or create or invest in business in the United States, and to thereafter reside in the United States and work in the business in legal status. The E-2 Visa does not lead to a green card, but it permits the holder to renew the visa indefinitely, if the enterprise continues to be profitable. The E-2 visa has an important advantage when compared to the better known investor visa, the EB-5. The EB-5 requires an investment of $1,000,000.00 or $500,000.00 in a less economically developed area. This is too large of an investment for the majority of potential investors. It is possible to obtain an E-2 visa, however, with a much smaller investment. One can qualify for an E-2 visa with an investment of around $75,000, or even less, depending on your particular circumstances and the type of business that you are looking to start or purchase.
Unfortunately, only citizens of countries with a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States are eligible for this visa. Brazil is not on the list, but many Brazilians still are able to come to the United States with E-2 visas. The key is dual nationality. Brazil, like the United States, is a country comprised mostly of immigrations and the descendants of immigrations. Many Brazilians have double citizenship that can be used to qualify for an E-2 visa. People with citizenship of almost any of the countries of Western Europe can qualify for an E-2 visa, including but not limited to people with German, Italian, French, Spanish or Dutch citizenship. The E-2 eligible countries are not only found in Europe. Japanese citizens, for example, can also qualify for E-2 visas. This applies even if the holder of the citizenship has never been to the E-2 eligible country, or even speaks the language. It is only necessary to legally hold the passport.
If you do not have the citizenship required for the visa, but you are the descendant of someone who came from or had citizenship from a country that is eligible for E-2 visas, you may be able to obtain citizenship from that country. If you had parents or grandparents from an E-2 eligible country, it may be wise to consult with an immigration attorney from the country of origin of your parents or grandparents because some countries give the children or grandchildren of their citizens the right to obtain citizenship, even if the parent or grandparent is deceased.
For those who do not have citizenship of an E-2 treaty country and cannot readily obtain it though their parents or grandparents, there is also the option to acquire citizenship in a third country through investment, and to subsequently use the third country citizenship to qualify for an E-2 visa. The process of obtaining citizenship through investment in this fashion has sometimes been colloquially referred to as “buying citizenship.”
Grenada, for example, is a country whose citizens are eligible for E-2 visas and which itself allows citizenship through investment. In exchange for an investment of approximately $250,000 (there are variances for family size, type of investment and related fees), an individual can obtain Grenadian citizenship through investment. Using his or her newly acquired Grenadian citizenship, an individual may at that point apply for an E-2 visa.
Information regarding citizenship through investment in Grenada can be found here: http://www.cbi.gov.gd/
As should now be clear, the process of obtaining an E-2 visa can be complicated and there may be one or multiple viable routes to doing so.
Though it is one of the most popular visas, the E-2 visa is by no means the only business visa. If you have between $500,000 to $1,000,000 to invest, the EB-5 may be the better option. If you already have a business in another country which does not have the necessary treaty to allow for E-2 visas, the L1A be an option.