Why the E-2 Visa is the Best Choice for German Investors and Entrepreneurs in America

german investors

Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, trade between the United States and Germany toped over $80 billion this year. As Germany’s top export market and third biggest destination of foreign direct investment, America has the economic resilience and dynamism to ensure lucrative opportunities to German Investors—and the E2 Visa is the key to unlocking that potential.

What is the E2 Visa?

The E2 Treaty Investor Visa allows citizens of certain countries to reside in the U.S. to develop and direct a “bona fide” business in which they have invested, or will be investing, a “substantial amount” of capital. In the simplest terms, it is designed to facilitate commercial investment in the U.S. by making it easier for investors to enter and live in America while they oversee and manage their business operations

What are the Requirements to Qualify for an E2 Visa?

The E2 Visa is available only to citizens of countries that have a treaty of commerce or navigation with the United States. Germany is one of those select nations whose citizens qualify for this highly coveted visa—but having the citizenship of a qualifying country is just one of several requirements that must be met:

  • At least 51 percent of the business must be owned by you or other German citizens.
  • The investment must be substantial, which is not defined in dollar terms but is related to the amount normally required to purchase, establish, or develop a similar existing business. Typically, $100,000 to $150,000 is considered substantial for most enterprises. 
  • The invested capital must either be yours or otherwise under your control. Thus, personal loans or gifts from relatives or friends can be considered part of the investment as long as you have control over those funds (such as through a bank account) and the business is not collateral.
  • Even if the investment funds are a high dollar amount, you must prove that they sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the enterprise. 
  • The business must be “bona fide,” meaning it is fully operating and profit generating. Therefore, passive investments such as real estate will not count, nor will an investment in an inactive or nonprofit entity. 
  • The business cannot be marginal, i.e., it must generate more than enough income to employ workers other than you or your family within five years of receiving the E2.

How Long is an E2 Visa Good for?

Once you are approved as an E2 investor, you will initially be allowed a maximum stay of up to two years. However, the E2 Visa can be extended in two-year increments without limit, provided you prove you are remaining to continue your investment activities and affirm that you eventually plan to depart the U.S.

However, while the E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa—meaning it is intended only for temporary residence—you have the option of filing an “adjustment of status” application so that you can obtain legal permanent residence, a.k.a. a green card.

Can an E2 Visa Holder Bring their Family?

Fortunately, an E2 Visa does not require that you leave your loved ones back in Germany. Your spouse and unmarried children aged 21 may also obtain legal status as “E2 dependents,” meaning they can live in the U.S. for as long as your visa is current. Moreover, they need not be German citizens nor even citizens of an E2 treaty country.

However, spouses of E2 Investors cannot work without receiving “employment authorization” from the government, for which you must file a separate application. You children will not be eligible for work but will be able to attend school.

What is the Process of Obtaining the E2 Visa?

Whether you are still thinking about the E2 Visa or are ready to move forward, it is imperative to hire the experienced immigration attorneys at Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. The E2 Visa requires many forms, documents, and detailed business plans to ensure success. You cannot afford to have your investment opportunity delayed by the complexities of the E2 Visa regulation. Call (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.