An E2 visa is a US visa that allows Canadian citizens to buy or start businesses in the United States. It allows Canadian citizens who are executives, supervisors, or specially skilled employees of those businesses to work in the US. It is imperative to note that this visa does not lead to permanent immigration status; it is primarily for short-term or fixed-term purposes only.
With an E2 visa, you are allowed to stay in the US for as long as five years, and you also get the opportunity to renew and extend your stay on the basis that your situation has not changed, your business continues to flourish, and you remain in the US.
Howbeit, upon the conclusion of the business (such as if the business closes or is sold), investors will have to return to Canada, unless they have obtained other legal US immigration status. According to reports, to qualify for the E2 visa, you are expected to be a citizen of one of the 78 different countries that have the Treaty of Commerce agreement with the US, of which Canada remains a very formidable partner.
You are also expected to either fully or partially own and/or be invested in a US-based business to enjoy the dividends of being able to live in the US on a long-term basis, allowing you to manage and grow the business. While there are no stipulated or allocated minimum amount of funds required for this type of visa, your investment capital in the said business will have to be substantial enough to be considered.
Most often, investments are usually from $100,000 and above. Some businesses may not need such a huge amount owing to the products or services offered, therefore some small investments may be accepted, although more challenging to obtain.
Have it in mind that the US government reserves the right to set a precedent for investment, depending on the nature of your business. Howbeit, you will still be expected to show that the business or investment is feasible enough, that it can have an impact on the local economy, as opposed to just providing support to you and your family.
Just as with all visa applications, the process can take quite some time, therefore it is recommended you get into the process as soon as possible. It may take around 45 days to review the original application for your E2 Visa.
These applications are handled on a first-come, first-serve basis, therefore the faster you send in your application and gather your documentation, the faster your application will be processed. Also, note that this visa is perfectly suited for either large companies wishing to invest in the U.S. or families who wish to either buy an existing business or create a new business in the U.S.
Basic E2 Visa Requirements for Canadian Citizens
E2 visa applicants are tasked with ensuring that they apply under the appropriate visa classification and also present the necessary documentation that pertains to their applications. The E2 visa requirements for Canadian citizens are as follows:
- The investor is expected to be a Canadian citizen
- The investor is expected to have invested or be actively in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a bona fide (legitimate) business or enterprise in the USA.
- The investor should be seeking to enter the USA primarily to develop and direct the investment enterprise.
- E2 visa treaty investors with the required nationality must generally own and control at least fifty percent of the US business.
- The business is expected to be or become operational. Note that to be ‘Directing and Developing’ their business, the E2 Treaty Investor should be involved in managing the business.
- The applicant must have provided substantial capital to the business
- While there is no specific amount of investment required, the amount will have to be suitable for the nature of the business the investor is starting. Some businesses, for instance in the IT sector, may need $1,050,000 to begin, while a franchise business may only require $250,000.
- The investment is expected to be ‘at-risk’. This simply means there is a possibility of gains or a loss and the money can’t be guaranteed.
- The E2 business should not be considered to be “on the side”. US workers will have to currently or in the future be employed in the business. The treaties aim to be more than just a job creation platform for the principal investor; however, there is no legal requirement to employ a specific number of US citizens or residents. Have in mind that you can meet the requirements by employing only a small number of employees. Showing that you will also employ a few employees in the coming years should be enough.
- The investor is expected to have a concise and well-detailed business plan. The plan should buttress goals and milestones for the business and its operations in the US including the hiring of staff in the US.
- Details of the skills, qualifications, and experience should be provided for any prospective employees of the E2 Treaty Investor, and if applicable, for the investor themselves as well.
- The principal investor, and any E2 visa staff, should be willing to leave the US upon the termination of their E2 visa status, especially since the E2 is a non-immigrant visa category. Howbeit, the E2 Treaty Investor visa can still be extended indefinitely upon meeting certain criteria.
- Certain funds are not permitted as business investments for an E2 Visa application. For instance, loans that are obtained against the business’s assets are not considered investments that qualify but may work if it is a personal mortgage or equity line.
How to Apply for the E2 Visa as a Canadian Citizen
To successfully apply for the E2 visa as a Canadian citizen, you are expected to first register your company with the E-Visa Unit. Note that to ensure your company gets reviewed by the E-Visa Unit; you will have to complete the following process:
- Fill out and complete the DS-160 Visa application form online
- Create an account on the Visa Appointment Service website. Have it in mind that this is when you will be expected to pay an application fee and arrange a delivery for your password after you have attended the visa interview.
- Present all the necessary documents for the application via email. Note there will be a list of all the documentation necessary and how to achieve this on the website.
- After your application must have been submitted and reviewed, you will get a date for your visa interview. While you are allowed to reschedule due to other commitments, you must make time to attend this interview within 90 days of the offer being made, because once this time lapses, your application will be voided and you will be expected to start the process from the beginning.
However, if your company is already registered with the E-Visa Unit, you only have to reach out and fix an appointment for your visa interview via the US Visa Appointment Service. You will not be expected to present any documentation in advance, but you may be mandated to come with some documents at the time of your visa interview.
Canadian citizens who are looking to start or develop their business in the United States may qualify to apply for an E2 Visa (Treaty Investor). Just as it was noted above, this visa allows international investors to temporarily live and work in the United States while managing a viable business. Therefore, whether you intend on investing in an existing business in the US, starting a new enterprise, or have stakes in a new business, you should be eligible to apply for an E2 Visa.