Many prospective investors wonder how much money must be invested to obtain an E2 visa. However, there is no set amount that the U.S. Government considers sufficient. Investors have been granted E2 visas with investments as low as $25,000. In theory, anything is possible as long as you meet all the E2 visa requirements.
The E2 Investment Must Be “Substantial”
“How much to invest?” is certainly one of the most crucial question to ask before launching or acquiring a US business. Yet, ironically there is no minimum investment amount that would guarantee you an E2 visa. The reason is that the sufficient amount depends precisely on (1) the type of business you will be running and (2) the cost it will take for the E2 business to become operational.
The U.S. government uses an elaborate series of test to evaluate whether the investment is “substantial”. One of these is the proportionality test:
For a new business, An E2 investment is substantial when it is sufficient to ensure the successful operation of the business. The E2 investment must include all costs needed to establish the business to the point of being operational.
For an acquisition, the substantiality test is simpler. If the acquisition was made at fair market value, the substantiality test is likely met.
The substantiality analysis is fact-dependent and varies widely depending on the nature of your business.
Low Start-up Amount: A Common Problem with Startups
From a business perspective, service businesses require lower upfront investments than product businesses (which require purchasing inventory and leasing a store or warehouse). However, for purposes of obtaining an E2 visa low startup expenses hurt your odds of success. This is because only actual expenses of the E2 company count towards the investment. Although a shoestring budget can go a long way for many startup founders, it probably won’t suffice to obtain an E2 visa.
Smaller investments are consistently subject to more scrutiny. When the investment is low, it is difficult to prove the E2 business is ready to operate.
The more money invested, the better your odds of E2 approval.
It is often a good idea to:
(1) Prepay your lease and a number of suppliers,
(2) Onboard employees/co-founders early; and
(3) Include intellectual property assets in the calculation of the E2 investment, where appropriate.
It is also helpful to utilize chamber of commerce or trade associations statistics to demonstrate that your financials are in line with those of your industry.
The US Consulate Abroad or USCIS Ultimately Decides Substantiality
The reality is that consular officers and the USCIS have a lot of leeway in approving or denying E2 visa. And, some consulates are known to be more stringent than others in deciding whether your investment is substantial.
Although investors have been granted E-2 visas with investments as low as $25,000, a small investment is significantly riskier and may well be out of the question depending on the strictness of the US consulate of your home country.