Why French Investors in America Should Seek the E-2 Visa

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France was the first country to sign a treaty of commerce with the United States, and over two centuries later, those ties are still going strong: bilateral trade totaled $200 billion even through the pandemic, and each country is the other’s top source of foreign investment. Another legacy of this relationship is the E-2 Visa, which allows French investors to reside in the U.S. while establishing or expanding your business. Citizens of France are among the select few worldwide who are eligible for this great opportunity, so learn how you can make the most of it and how our firm can help. 

The Basics of the E-2 Visa

In its simplest terms, the E-2 Visa is designed to enhance commercial investment in the U.S. by allowing investors from certain countries to reside in the country while they manage their business operations. It is also known as the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa because it is available only to citizens of countries with a treaty of commerce or navigation with the U.S. 

Thus, as a citizen of France, you already meet the baseline requirement for applying to the E-2 Visa. However, this is only one hurdle to qualifying for this amazing gateway to a prosperous investment. 

What Else do I Need to be Eligible for the E-2 Visa? 

The E-2 Visa has several other requirements related to both your business and the nature of your investment. Each of these must be met to both acquire and maintain E-2 status. 

  • Business Ownership. Most of the business must be owned by you or other citizens of France. The minimum amount is 51 percent.
  • Investment Amount. Unlike other investment visas, the E-2 Visa does not require a specific dollar amount. Instead, the funds must reflect what is normally required to purchase, establish, or develop a similar existing business. Most applicants will usually need between $100,000 and $150,000 to meet this threshold, but lower amounts can qualify if it is reasonably enough for the business.
  • Sufficient Funds for the Business. Having a large dollar amount of investment capital does not mean you are in the clear: you must prove the investment is high enough to ensure the successful operation of the specific enterprise. In theory, even funds in the $100,000-$150,000 range could fail to make the cut if it does not conform to the requirements of the specific business—hence the next crucial requirement: 
  • Detailed business plan. While not an explicit requirement, you will have to prove to the government that your proposed commercial investment meets the above-mentioned criteria. The easiest way to do that is to draft a business plan that sets out, in great detail, what your enterprise will entail and how the funds will be spent towards that goal.
  • Control over the Investment Funds.  The capital for the business must be your own or be under your control, such as a bank account in your name. Personal loans or gifts can be used to fund the business so long as they are first under your control. Furthermore, you cannot use the business itself collateral.
  • The business must be “bona fide.” In other words, the enterprise must actually be active and generating a profit. This means nonprofits, inactive businesses, or passive investments (such as real estate) will not count.
  • The business cannot be marginal. It is not enough for the business to make a profit: It must generate enough income to eventually employ U.S. workers. Typically this must be achieved no later than five years of receiving the E2 Visa.

Duration of the E2 Visa

The initial maximum stay is up to two years but can be extended in two-year increments without limit—so long as you prove that this is necessary to continue your commercial investment and that you plan to eventually leave the United States: As a nonimmigrant visa, the E2 is designed only for temporary residence. Nevertheless, you have the option to apply for an “adjustment of status” to obtain a green card and reside permanently.

Bringing Family Members

E2 visa holders have the option to bring “E2 dependents,” namely their spouse and unmarried children aged no older than 21. Your loved ones do not have to be French citizens nor even citizens of an E2 treaty country. They can live in the U.S. for as long as your visa is current, but take note: Spouses cannot work without applying separately from “employment authorization,” while children cannot get work authorization but can go to school.

Obtaining the E2 Visa

If you are ready to get your investment going, or have any further questions, the experienced immigration attorneys at Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. are ready to help in any capacity. Like most visas, the E2 involves a lot of paperwork and attention to detail. Rather than risk delaying your lucrative investment, call (305) 921-0976 or email Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.