Italian Investors Take Note: The E2 Visa is Your Ticket to a Lucrative Investment
Italian direct investment in the United States totals nearly $40 billion, spanning industries as diverse as textiles, auto manufacturing, and renewable energy. Adding to the prosperous relationship between the two nations, Italian Investors are among the select few in the world who can obtain the E2 Visa, a form of legal status that allows them to enter and reside in the U.S. in pursuit of a commercial investment. Get the basics on the E2 Visa and how my firm can help.
Obtaining the E2 Visa
Also known as the “Treaty Investor Visa,” the E2 Visa is available only to citizens of countries with an active treaty of commerce or navigation with the U.S. Fewer than half the world’s nations have such a treaty, including Italy, giving you an incredible opportunity by virtue of your citizenship.
In addition to providing proof of Italian citizenship, which can be as easy as presenting a valid passport or national I.D., you must also provide documentation and other evidence to meet the following requirements.
- Proof that your business is majority-owned by Italian citizens. The citizenship requirement of the E2 Visa extends to the business as well as the investor. Thus, you must show that you own at least a 51 percent of the new or existing business in which you are investing. In lieu of that, you may also co-own the business with other Italian citizens, provided that only a minority of the business is owned by non-Italians. Note that even if the business is majority owned by another E2 treaty country, that would still not meet this requirement.
- Proof that the enterprise is “bona fide” and not “marginal.” These statutory terms concern the nature of the business itself—namely that it must be an active commercial enterprise that makes enough money to support more than you and your family. The goal is to create a profit-making entity that will eventually create enough jobs for U.S. workers. This rules out investments in passive sources of revenue (such as rental properties) and nonprofit entities.
- The investment must be “substantial.” The E2 Visa is unique in not requiring a specific dollar amount to qualify. Instead, all it requires is that the investment funds are sufficient to support the establishment, operation, and/or expansion of the business. Hence, the amount will be relative to the needs, size, or specialty of the business. Investing as relatively little as $50,000 can work if you can prove it is substantial for the needs of the business. However, the general rule is that a minimum of $100,000 to $150,000 is enough to meet this requirement on its face.
- The investment funds must be your own. You cannot rely on a loan or someone else’s funds to invest in the business, nor can you raise capital through using the business itself as collateral. Rather, the investment must be in the form of money or assets that you “control,” such as in a financial account in your name. This means you can use loaned or gifted money provided it is in your account.
- You must show an intent to eventually leave the country. As a nonimmigrant visa, the E2 Visa is meant to be used temporarily—namely for as long as necessary to continue managing or directing the enterprise. Even if you apply for an extension—of which you have an unlimited number of two-year increments—you must always state that this is for the purpose of the investment and that you will ultimately leave the U.S.
Other Important Facts About the E2 Visa
Even if your commercial investment meets the E2 Visa regulations, you may have other concerns on your mind: What about your loved ones? Do you have to leave your spouse or children behind in Italy for two or more years while you pursue your commercial dreams? What if you want to stay in the U.S. indefinitely, or even become a U.S. citizen? Fortunately, the E2 Visa can accommodate all these considerations.
Your spouse and any unmarried children up to 21 years old may receive E2 status as “dependents,” meaning they can live in the U.S. for as long as your E2 Visa is active. Once in the U.S., your spouse—but not your children—may apply for a work permit, which is a separate application process. Fortunately, your children can still attend school as E2 Visa dependents.
As for becoming a U.S. citizen, while the E2 Visa, as a nonimmigrant visa, does not offer a direct path to permanent legal status (a.k.a. a green card), it does allow you to apply for an “adjustment of status” to legal permanent residence while you currently reside in the U.S. on E2 status. This is also a separate application process that has its own requirements and challenges.
Obtaining the E2 Visa
You may be reading all this and wondering where to begin. How do I acquire an enterprise? How do I make sure my investment meets the legal requirements? How do the applications for work authorization or a green card work? All these questions and more can be answered by myself and my team at Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. We have helped hundreds of clients worldwide fulfill their investment goals with the E2 Visa. Not only can we ensure you meet every requirement, but we will go the extra mile to improve your chances of success, like drafting a detailed business plan to strengthen your application. Simply call (305) 921-0440 or email Romy@jflawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.