E2 Visa Form & Application Process

The E-2 visa application involves a number of stages. Issues or errors with your application can result in delays or even refusal of your petition – a scenario best avoided with the E-2 visa where the requirement is to have already made an upfront investment regardless of whether your application is granted. Take advice before you embark on your E-2 application, including completing the E2 visa form, to ensure you are meeting the required steps.

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Which E2 visa form?

To submit your E2 application, the following will be necessary to submit your application:

E2 Investors:

  • Completed forms DS 160 and DS 156E
  • Statement of intent to leave the US on visa expiry
  • E2 visa documentation package

E2 Employees:

  • Completed forms DS 160 and DS 156E
  • Statement of intent to leave the US on visa expiry
  • Detailed resume or CV and documentation of your professional qualification (such as copies of education degrees, job training certificates and/or letters from previous employers)
  • Letter of support from your prospective U.S. employer containing a detailed position description
  • Evidence that you are an essential employee and that your skills are generally unavailable in the U.S
  • Proof the enterprise is real and operational e.g. latest US tax return

You will also have to pay the relevant visa application fee(s) e.g. MPV.

The next step, once your application has been reviewed initially by the US Consulate, will be to book your visa appointment. Expect this to be around three weeks after submitting.

E2 company registration

In addition to applying for an individual E2 visa, the enterprise that forms the basis of any E2 application will also need to be vetted. E2 company registration documents are to be submitted along with the individual E2 visa application.

Note that company registrations cannot be made without an individual E2 visa applicant. This means in the event the individual E2 visa application(s) is refused, the enterprise registration will be denied. A new application will be needed.

To be eligible for company registration, the following key requirements, among others, must be met and evidenced by applying to a US consular post in your home country:

  • The company must be owned and controlled at least 50% by individual nationals of a treaty country.
  • The company must be investing in a new or existing enterprise in the US.
  • The company cannot be an ‘idle investment’ for potential appreciation.
  • You must demonstrate that risk capital has already been committed by the applicant investor, and that the invested capital is subject to partial or total loss in the event that the entity fails.
  • The foreign company must demonstrate that the capital invested is irrevocably committed to the enterprise and primarily derives from corporate earnings.
  • The invested funds must be ‘substantial’ in relation to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or creating the relevant type of enterprise.
  • The foreign company must be in possession of the funds it will invest and the funds must be fully committed to the business.

E2 company registration requires extensive supporting documentation to be provided in a prescribed format. Given the comprehensive nature of the documents and that issues can result in delays or application refusals, take advice to ensure you are present the correct materials to support your case.

E visa company registration is completed only when the individual applicant (or first applicant where there are multiple for the same E2 business) has been granted their E2 visa.

E2 supporting documents

You will need to provide the following as part of your application:

Covering letter

The purpose of the cover letter is to present in a concise format how you satisfy all of the E2 visa criteria. By way of summary:

  • You are a national of a Treaty country
  • You have or are in the process of making the required investment
  • The investment qualifies as ‘substantial’
  • The enterprise is legitimate and operational
  • The enterprise is more than ‘marginal’
  • You have the capability to direct and develope the business
  • If an employee, you will be undertaking an executive or supervisory role in the US company and have the skills to perform this
  • You plan to leave the US on expiry of your E2 visa or completion of the E2 assignment

The covering letter accompanies your documentation in support of each of the E2 criteria:

  • Applicant
  • Ownership
  • Investment
  • Real and operating
  • Marginality

Form DS 160

The form you will need to complete for an E-2 visa is the standard online nonimmigration visa application form, DS-160. Importantly, each visa applicant will need to complete their own separate DS 160.

DS-160 is extensive and covers extensive ground. It can be helpful to have to hand as much information as possible when you come to complete the form, such as:

  • Passport
  • Planned itinerary, where you have already made travel plans
  • Employment history / résumé with information about your current and previous education and work history
  • Digital photograph, compliant to Embassy specification
  • Contact information when in the US – this could be your employer in the US, or an individual who can verify your identity or the hotel you plan to stay at
  • Travel history – notably dates of your last five visits to the US where applicable, and your international travel history for the past five years.
  • Criminal history and previous immigration violations
  • Form I-129 and I-797 Approval Notice if you’re a temporary worker (H-1B, H-2, H-3, CW1, L, O, P, R, E2C)

Answer all questions as fully as possible, and be honest. Providing false information can result in a refused visa, and allegations of visa fraud can lead to issues with future US visa applications.

When you start, make a note of your DS 160 number. You will need to use this should you come back to complete further sections.

You will be asked to select your region. This is the country where you will be submitting your application – not where you are completing the form. It is not possible to transfer your DS 160 between Embassies. In this instance, you would need to complete a new DS 160 form and pay the fee again.

You will be asked to provide details of your travel plans, but you are not required to have booked or finalized these plans or itinerary. In fact, you are encouraged to hold off on booking travel until you have received your stamped passport.

Save your form regularly to avoid lost work. Time-outs will lose the information you have entered but not saved. This is a common issue as applicants come out of the form to find information or paperwork.

Making changes to your form once completed is not always straightforward or possible. Minor changes should be addressed at the interview, for example, if your travel plans have changed. More substantial changes may require you to edit your form or resubmit your application entirely. Take advice on your specific query to ensure you are following the correct procedure.

Once the form has been completed, print out the confirmation page and bring this with you to your visa interview.

E-2 Business Plan

Your application for an E-2 visa also requires submission of a formal business plan, detailing your projections for the business, and how your E-2 investment is going to be utilized to make the business operational and successful in meeting your growth targets. Useful areas to include would be:

Financial strategy

With no threshold or arbitrary minimum amount, the size of your investment must be considered ‘substantial’ in relation to the total cost of the business. We explain in more detail here about the E-2 investment amount, but put simply – it is a relative test with no defined minimum threshold. It will be for you to make your case and explain why your investment amount qualifies as ‘substantial’ relative to your enterprise and its specific needs.

In the business plan, you will also need to show you have control and possession of your investment funds. This requires documentary evidence of the source of funds, with a clear paper trail, for example, sale of property or assets, savings, employment income.

The plan should provide financial projections and elaborate on how the business will achieve sufficient success and profitability to support you (the investor), your dependents and employees, and create new jobs within the duration of the E-2 visa (maximum 5 years).

Operational strategy

The Embassy will want to understand how your business will actually function in the US.

There are a multitude of corporate structures permissible for securing the E-2 visa. You will need to decide which you will operate under.

The management specifics of the business will also require detail. The E-2 visa holder is authorized on the basis of directing and developing the business – what does this mean in practical terms given your corporate structure and personnel strategy?

You will also be required to evidence that at least 50 percent of the business is owned by you as a citizen of a treaty country.

Personnel strategy

The management structure should allow you as the E-2 visa holder to develop and direct the company, with other individuals performing the skilled or unskilled labor demands of the business.

You must be able to demonstrate that you will create jobs within your company for resident workers. How many US jobs will result from your enterprise, what roles will they be and when do you expect they will be created?

Interestingly, the E-2 visa also allows the business to petition for other foreign employees with the same nationality as the treaty employer. By leveraging this advantage the enterprise could petition for executives, supervisors, or other essential employees with special qualifications.

Marketing strategy

How will you approach marketing within the US? Document your plans including budget and personnel requirements for marketing activity.

Do you have contacts to tap into, or meetings lined up? Perhaps you already have contracts in place, or signed letters of intent? Clearly, the more solid these lines of activity, the better for your case.

Your skills & experience

A further requirement is that the nature of the business is, in some logical sense, related, connected or relevant to the professional experience, skills or qualifications of the E-2 applicant.

The Embassy will be seeking assurance of your credibility and capability, as well as the viability of the enterprise, and are likely to question at interview where there is a perceived lack of synergy between your capabilities and the company’s line of work.

E2 visa interview

If you are aged between 14 and 79, the next stage in your E2 visa application will be an interview to assess your eligibility.

It will be your responsibility to arrange the interview at the Embassy or Consulate. This is usually at the Embassy or Consulate in the country where you hold permanent residence status. While it is possible to arrange an interview at a country outside where you live, it may make the process more difficult and protracted.

To book your interview, once you have filed form DS 160, create a Visa Appointment Service account online, pay the fee and provide details for the return of your passport should your visa be approved.

During the interview, you will be asked questions about the information you have provided in the application form and business plan. The Consular Officer will be looking to assess the viability of your enterprise, your ability and capacity to make the enterprise a success and to be certain that you intend to leave the US at the end of your visa by demonstrating sufficient ties to your home country. As such, you will be expected to bring with you documentation that supports and evidences your visa application and your intention to leave the US.

The type of documents required will depend on your circumstances and the nature of your business.

  • Passport with at least 6 months left after the proposed visa expiry
  • DS-160 confirmation page, signed
  • Proof of application fee payment
  • Photograph – in addition to the digital photograph supplied with your E2 visa form, you may be asked for a photograph for the consular officer to review

Need help?

With so much at stake when applying for your E-2 visa, it is critical to ensure your application is built to evidence your eligibility under the E category. As US immigration specialists, NNU can advise and guide on completing the E-2 visa form, collating relevant documentation and supporting you through the interview process. For specialist advice and support with your E-2 visa application, contact us.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.