E2 Visa Process for Startup Companies: Step-by-Step Guide

E2 Visa Process for Startup Companies - Step-by-Step Guide

The E2 visa is a great option for investors and entrepreneurs looking to found a startup company. With an E2 visa, you can start a business in the USA and work for that business. As a startup founder, there are multiple steps that must be carefully followed to get an E2 visa.

 

In this guide, I’m going to discuss the E2 visa process for startup companies and the steps you need to take to get an E2 visa.

 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I would be happy to answer your questions.

 

Overview:

 

  • Introduction to the E2 Visa

 

  • Step 1 – Consult with an Immigration Lawyer

 

  • Step 2 – Set Up Your E2 Company

 

  • Step 3 – Transfer Investment Funds into the Bank Account of the E2 Company

 

  • Step 4 – Begin Spending the E2 Investment Funds

 

  • Step 5 – Submit E2 Petition (Either Change of Status or Visa Processing)

 

  • Conclusion

 

Introduction to the E2 Visa

 

The E2 visa is non-immigrant visa for investors. The basic concept of the E2 visa is that it allows an investor to invest a substantial amount of capital into a US business and run that business.

 

With an E2 visa, you can come to the United States, start a business or purchase an existing business, and work for that business.

 

In order to get an E2 visa, you must be a national of a country that has an E2 treaty with the United States. In addition, you must make a substantial investment in a US company.

 

Here’s a Breakdown of the E2 Visa Requirements:

 

  1. You must be a national of a country that has an E2 treat with the United States.
  2. You must make a substantial investment in a US business.
  3. The business must be an active, bona-fide enterprise.
  4. Your business cannot be considered a marginal enterprise.
  5. Your investment funds must be put “at-risk.”
  6. You must have obtained your investment funds lawfully.
  7. You must direct and develop the E2 business.
  8. You must have the intent to depart the United States once your E2 status ends.

 

Important Note:

 

To get an E2 visa, your E2 petition must be approvable when filed. This means that you must satisfy the requirements of the E2 visa before you file your petition.

 

Now that we’ve discussed the E2 visa requirements, lets discuss the E2 visa process and the steps to get an E2 visa.

 

Step 1 of the E2 Visa Process – Consult with an Immigration Lawyer

 

The first step you should take when beginning the E2 visa process is to consult with an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer can review your particular situation to determine the best course of action to take. By consulting with an immigration lawyer first, you may learn that there is a far easier and better option for you to obtain your desired immigration benefits.

 

Step 2 of the E2 Visa Process– Set Up Your E2 Company

 

Once you speak to a qualified immigration lawyer, and you determine that an E2 visa is the best option, the next step is to set up your E2 company.

 

By setting up the E2 company, I’m referring to 2 major steps:

 

  • Form the Company

 

  • Open a Bank Account for the E2 Company

 

Form the Company

 

  • You can choose to set up your E2 business as an LLC, corporation, or other business formation.

 

  • Make sure that you own at least 50% of the E2 business. To get an E2 visa, one of the requirements is that you direct and develop the E2 business. To satisfy this requirement, you should show that you have operational control of the business by showing at least 50% ownership.

 

Open a Bank Account for the E2 Company

 

  • Once you’ve formed your company, the next step is to open a bank account for your E2 company.

 

  • You will need a business bank account to operate the E2 company.

 

  • Additionally, bank records for your business bank account will form an essential component of the evidence needed for your E2 visa application.

 

Am I Allowed to Set-Up a Company Before my E2 Visa is Approved?

 

  • One of the most common questions I get asked by E2 applicants, is if they are allowed to set-up the company and open the business bank account for their E2 company before the visa is approved.

 

  • To give a brief answer to this question: You are allowed to set-up a company in the USA. This means that you can form the LLC or corporation and open the business bank account.

 

  • These initial actions are considered “setting-up” the business and are not considered work.

 

  • However, you are not allowed to work in the USA without work authorization.

 

  • Unless you have work authorization, you are not allowed to operate your business, work for your business, or manage your US business. These actions must wait until your E2 visa is approved and you are granted work authorization.

 

Step 3 of the E2 Visa Process – Transfer Investment Funds into the Bank Account of the E2 Company

 

  • Once you’ve set up the business bank account, the next step is to transfer your investment funds into the business bank account.

 

  • To qualify for an E2 visa, you must make a substantial investment in a US business.

 

  • Proving that you’ve made a substantial investment begins with actually depositing the investment funds into the business account.

 

  • While there is no set minimum amount required by the regulations, you should aim to invest at least $100,000.

Step 4 of the E2 Visa Process – Begin Spending the E2 Investment Funds

 

  • Now that your funds are deposited into the E2 business bank account, you should begin to spend the funds on inventory, equipment, supplies, marketing, and any other business expenses.

 

  • One of the requirements to get an E2 visa is that your funds must be “at-risk” and “irrevocably committed” to the E2 enterprise. To satisfy this requirement, you should actually spend the investment funds.

 

  • It is not sufficient to just deposit the funds into the business bank account. You must actually spend the funds.

 

  • If the funds are kept in the business bank account at the time of filing, the E2 petition will likely be denied for failure of putting the funds at risk.

 

Important Note:

 

Most entrepreneurs find it extremely difficult to spend funds on the E2 business before the E2 visa is approved. They wonder what they would do in the event that the E2 visa is not approved, and they are stuck with equipment, inventory, and furniture that they cannot use. While this is a legitimate concern, it is precisely how the E2 visa process works.

 

The “at-risk” requirement for getting an E2 visa was put in place to ensure an investor’s commitment to the success of the E2 business.

 

The immigration officer that reviews your case is looking to see that your investment funds are truly at risk, meaning that your funds are subject to total loss. In reviewing your E2 visa application, the immigration officer will ask themselves, “if this business were to fail, would the investor’s funds be lost?” If your funds are sitting in the operating account of the E2 business, it is clear that your funds would not be lost, indicating that your investment funds are not sufficiently at risk.

 

Per the E2 guidelines “mere intent to invest, or possession of uncommitted funds in a bank account, or even prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment, will not suffice.” [9 FAM 402.9]

 

Step 5 of the E2 Visa Process – Submit E2 Petition (Either Change of Status or Visa Processing)

 

Once your business is set-up and your investment funds are spent, you are now in position to file your E2 petition.

 

There are 2 options to consider:

 

  • Change of Status Through USCIS

 

  • Visa Processing at US Consulate

 

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between these 2 options:

 

Change of Status Through USCIS

 

  • A change of status is the process of going from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status.

 

  • In order to do a change of status, you must be lawfully present in the United States in a valid non-immigrant status.

 

  • Certain non-immigrant statuses are not eligible for a change of status such as the ESTA.

 

  • A change of status is filed with USCIS through the Form I-129.

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will prepare and file the Form I-129 along with all your supporting documents (company documents, bank statements, etc.)

 

  • The entire process is handled within the United States. You are not required to travel abroad.

 

  • There is no interview when doing a change of status.

 

  • By doing a change of status, you do not get an E2 visa. Instead, you get E2 status.

 

  • Your E2 status is only valid in the United States.

 

  • E2 status does not give you the ability to travel in and out of the United States. If you travel outside of the US, you will lose your E2 status.

 

  • There are limited exceptions which allow for travel to Mexico and Canada for less than 30 days.

 

  • If you want to travel in and out of the USA and maintain your E2 status, you will need an E2 visa.

Visa Processing at US Consulate

 

  • If you are outside of the United States when filing your E2 petition, you will need to do visa processing.

 

  • Visa processing is the process of applying for a US visa at a US Embassy abroad.

 

  • To do visa processing, you will prepare and file a Form DS-160.

 

  • Your immigration lawyer will organize and submit all of your supporting documents to the US Embassy of your home country.

 

  • The embassy will review your documentation and then schedule a visa interview.

 

  • At the interview, the consular officer may ask various questions regarding your investment, source of funds, etc.

 

  • Upon successful completion of the visa interview, you should be issued an E2 visa within about a week.

 

  • With an E2 visa, you can travel in and out of the United States for the period of the visas validity.

 

Conclusion

 

At this point, you should have a much better idea of the overall process to get an E2 visa as the founder of a startup company.

 

  • Step 1 is to consult with an Immigration Lawyer

 

  • Step 2 is to set Up Your E2 Company

 

  • Step 3 is to transfer Investment Funds into the Bank Account of the E2 Company

 

  • Step 4 is to begin Spending the E2 Investment Funds

 

  • Step 5 is to submit the E2 Petition (Either Change of Status or Visa Processing)

 

This is quite a lot of information to cover. If you have questions about anything in this post, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and would be happy to help you with your E2 visa.

 

Resources:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23:08 29 Dec 20
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Art E
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ujjwal luthra
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Rohit S was very responsive!
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05:02 29 Oct 20
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19:10 23 Oct 20
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Vincent Morrow
05:57 19 Oct 20
First of all, let me tell you why you should take my review seriously. I've lived in the US for almost 14 years, and I've always kept my visa status current. So, in the past 14 years, I worked with 4 immigration law firms. I've also met, exchanged... emails, and/or talked with countless other immigration attorneys and lawyers. So, I have A LOT of experience with immigration attorneys (by the way, you should also know that there is a difference between an attorney and a lawyer. You'd want an attorney if possible). And 3 out of the 4 firms who actually worked on my case(s) were excellent (that's why my visa status is still current… obviously haha). I don't want to talk about the one (out of the 4 firms) because that one was bad (thank god, he didn't end up working on my case). I only want to talk about the good ones, and in this case, it's Ashoori Law firm. And I'd like to tell you that, if you're looking for an immigration attorney and/or an immigration law firm, look no further! You have found it! You don't even need to read the rest of my review. Just go, sign the contract, and start working with them now, period!Okay, so you've decided to read further down the line? Fine. Here is why you should choose Ashoori Law. I'm a small business owner, so I know a thing or two about how a group of people get things going and get things done. And in order for something to go right, a lot of other things have to work right as well. Your dinner tastes good? The person(s) who cooked it must have done it right. And so does the farmer who helped grow the veggies you’re having now. Similarly, Ashoori Law must be doing a lot of things right because they just got my visa extended in 14 days! How great is that!?In addition, I’d really like to talk about the one attorney at Ashoori Law who worked on my case and got my visa extended. Her name is Lahaina Araneta (I also want to mention her paralegal, Daniel Chausow, who also did a great job on my visa extension. Moreover, there may be other people at Ashoori Law who helped with my case that I don’t know about). In short, Lahaina is one of the best immigration attorneys I have ever met. She is smart, thorough, resourceful, and positive. She is a genuinely good person who actually cares about immigrants and understands the hardships immigrants go through (let’s face it. The system is stacked against immigrants in every possible way, so having an excellent immigration attorney who truly cares about immigrants is crucial). She always answers my emails within 24 hours if not immediately. She is resourceful, and she has ideas. She knows how to present a case and get positive results (I mean… you may have a good case, but you still need to present it in a good way to get the result(s) you want). And like I said, if something works right, a lot of other things must be working right as well.Okay, I’ll stop here for now (I’ll update my review and write even more as time goes on). In short, just go and work with Ashoori Law. You’ll be glad that you did. Thank you!read more
eddie lavian
21:58 16 Oct 20
MR Ashoori was amazing!!help a lot with the case. Thank you
highland cell24connect
18:45 12 Oct 20
I give an excellent 5 star review to Michael Ashoori law firm and his team especially Lahaina Araneta for their excellent service for E-2 approval. The whole team is very professional and detail oriented and they provide response very promptly.... Along with being compassionate towards their clients, they provide amazing legal advice on immigration matters which helps clients get approval in quickest time possible. Hats off and highly recommend to others !!read more
Life Mizrahi
19:30 08 Oct 20
I would like to thank Michael Ashoori and his wonderful team!We had a very complicated immigration situation that he and his team were able to clear up and accomplish our goals.The price was very reasonable and The timing was excellent.Thank... you for all of the wonderful work.read more
chaya mizrahi
19:17 08 Oct 20
We had a very difficult situation with our legal immigration status and thanks to Michael and his Wonderful team they were able to fix everything within a reasonable amount of time and for a decent price.We highly recommend this team of attorneys... for all of your Immigration needs and beyond.read more
Bhavna G
21:10 29 Sep 20
Phenomenal service! Rapid response and attention to detail. The team were extremely diligent with the entire process and kept me up to date through the process! We had lots of hiccups with USCIS and CoVid causing multiple delays. I was extremely... impressed by Lahaina and her team. Right until the very end they messaged me, shared updates and provided guidance on next steps. Phenomenal service and. I’ll definitely be using them again. Thank you to the entire team at Ashoori law! I couldn’t have gotten through this process without you!!I highly recommend for all your immigration legal needs!!! Thank you so much!read more
Gene Boekhoudt
02:22 29 Sep 20
Lahaina Araneta of ASHOORI LAW was instrumental in assisting me to get my E2 Visa. The service was always on point and result driven. I was always well informed and prepared for my Interview.I highly recommend using the service of ASHOORI LAW.
Umesh Joshi
20:49 26 Sep 20
It was very nice experience and really helpful for all kind of services
Dmitry Bak
23:46 13 Sep 20
Michael helped us a lot preparing and sending all the needed documents to USCIS. We were very squeezed in time, and I even had to drive from SF to LA to deliver the originals in person, quicker than USPS or Fedex could do, to save one day. Michael... met me in his office at night time, so kind! During the entire period, Michael's team kept us informed about every single step they did, and finally we got all the needed approvals from USCIS. I highly recommend Michael, his company is a great example of how an ideal lawyer/attorney should work.read more
Freuet Solutions LLC
22:49 08 Sep 20
Mike reached out to me personally and gave a good and detail explanation of possible options to take in my case.I recommend you reach out to him with your immigration matters.
Ha Ka
17:48 02 Sep 20
I can only recommend Michael Ashoori for all your immigration needs and inquiries . Very proffessional. Thanks to Michael Ashoori and all his team. I will be back soon again!
Tarek
11:57 02 Sep 20
Started working with Michael Ashoori firm around march this year during the pandemic, but despite these difficult times they guided me step by step and they were always there when ever i had a question or clarification.Lahaina was great, very... professional immigration attorney and of very help through out all the process.She guided me all the way till i got my L1 visa approved.They have this portal system while they post in details every single document needed to ensure the success of the petition. I just had to collect all these documents, upload them on the portal and then they take it from there, they prepared everything and filled up the petition. Their job doesn’t stop here since most of the petitions gets an RFE from USCIS, so they continue by preparing whats needed and resubmit again till i got the reply that my petition was approved.Over all, Michael and his team are very professional and they really know what they are doing and they stay updated with all the recent laws and regulations going on. Highly recommendedread more
Ahmed Gaber
21:44 03 Aug 20
Good office because he offer free consultation
Vj M
03:58 14 Jul 20
Mike and his team helped me with E2. They were very patient and professional throughout the process which got significantly delayed due to Covid. The attorney assigned to me was very knowledgeable and available to advise even at a short notice.... Overall, I had a very pleasant experience and would highly recommend Ashoori Law. Looking forward to working together again in the near future.read more
Gustavo Mas
18:03 07 Jul 20
My experience with Michael is remarkable, he is very professional and has profound knowledge in immigration laws, he made me feel like I was with the right lawyer, so rest assure, if you decide to work with him, you are very likely to be successful... at your case.read more
Allen Pourkhomami
18:58 25 Jun 20
Great institutions like Ashoori law firm are made by great people, and there are no finer individuals than those who dedicated themselves to assist clients with different cases like mine. “HONEST & EMPATHETIC” are the words that come to mind when I... think of Lahaina and the rest of her amazing team! Highly professional and experienced immigration attorney who provided excellent service, demonstrating personal attention to all details of your cases. They show compassion by studying clients' stories.They certainly know the immigration process and help you fully prepare for the case and interview. They are always making sure that the whole process goes very smooth. I especially want to thank “Lahaina Araneta” attorney & Michael Ashoori. If you are a really nervous client like me, these people are always super patient and kind with you. If anyone is looking for immigration help, “Ashoori law firm” should be your very first choice for sure because they can really get things done!Working with Lahaina Araneta was absolutely great. She helped me through my entire journey without any hesitations. I always got answers whenever I had questions. I will definitely work with “HER” again on my next journey. She helped me a lot from the beginning of my case (naturalization case). She is attentive to details and very informative. She also quickly responded to my questions about my status. I can't say enough about her. I was completely dazzled by her communication skills and courage in communications with the USCIS office. I am blown away by her integrity and all the hard work she has done on my behalf. I will always be grateful for all of her efforts. Lahaina I just want to thank you for the excellent work you did as my immigration attorney. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for all the cares and concerns you have shown me, and for working tirelessly. if it weren’t for your analytical skills and knowledge, the matter wouldn’t have been settled by now. I knew you have a lot of clients, so your prompt responses and attention to detail really meant a lot to me. Having an experienced attorney like you on my side was a good sign that I was walking into the right path to win the case. Thank you Lahaina for your support during my N-400 application process, and for helping me to get the desired outcome. You don't know how much your passion impacts the lives of others.read more
Sandie Galloway
18:41 10 Jun 20
Lahaina was one of 4 lawyers that I had an Initial consult with. She was the only one who took the time to truly understand my case. She was patient with me and very responsive. The most important thing is she was the only lawyer who believed in me.... She has world class professionalism. We successfully got my visa and I couldn’t have done it without her. Will never use another law firm. Highly recommend. She truly cares about her clients and goes the extra mile.read more
Rw Right
17:39 06 Jun 20
Look no further. There are solid reasons why they get straight 5 stars in this review.They work as a (great) team and everyone is very knowledgeable and reliable. Micheal posts timely insightful topics on Youtube, in addition to answering all of... your personal questions quickly and responsively.read more
Morne Begemann
09:10 03 Jun 20
We recently needed the assistance of a law firm and due to the fact that we had limited time available to submit our application, many of the law firms that we contacted were not able to assist us. We then came in contact with Michael from Ashoori... Law. Not only did they assist us with our application, they also provided us with efficient, professional service. They really went out of their way to make sure that we meet the deadline and provided us with regular updates on the process. What a wonderful and stress free experience! I would definitely recommend Ashoori Law’s services to any potential clients.read more
larajnjkn essatrtc
00:03 16 May 20
Very helpful expert in immigration he help me out in temporary passporthighly recommended
Jackson Lee
02:08 15 May 20
Ashoori and Lahaina are very professional and detail. They responded to my questions with terms that I can understand without any hidden agenda.I wish I hired them when I first applying my E2. They are the lowest in fees and most professional... immigration lawyer that I had encounter. We go through all the process through phone and email without meeting in person and I got my E2 renewal approved.Way better then any immigration lawyer that I had meet in person in NYC.Will definitely stick with them and recommend them to all my friends and family.read more
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Michael Ashoori Headshot

Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.