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Is the E2 Visa a Pathway to Citizenship?


The E2 visa allows foriegn nationals who invest (“Treaty traders/investors' ') in a U.S. business to enter and work in the United States.The authority for an E2 visa derives from development and commerce treatises that the United States are involved in. Thus, only citizens of a treaty country qualify for the E2 visa; however, the list of qualifying countries is quite extensive. The first step one should take before applying for an E2 visa, is making sure they meet the general requirements:

E-2 Treaty Investor Classification Requirements

  • MUST be a national of a country that the U.S. has a treaty of commerce with

  • MUST have invested, or in the process or investing, a *substantial amount of capital in the enterprise (real, active, and operating commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking) in the U.S.

  • MUST be seeking to enter the U.S. to develop and direct the enterprise

  • Treaty investor must show that the funds have not been obtained, directly or indirectly from criminal activity

E-2 Employee General Classification Requirements

If principal alien employer is an individual:

  • Be the same nationality as the main alien employer (must have nationality of the treaty country)

  • Meet the definition of “employee” under relevant law;

  • Engage in duties of an executive or supervisory position, or if lesser capacity, have special qualifications (i.e., degree of expertise)

If principal alien employer is NOT an individual:

  • MUST be an enterprise of organization at least 50% owned by persons in U.S. who have nationality of treaty country

  • Owners must either:

  • Maintain nonimmigrant treaty investor status, or

  • If the owners are not in the U.S. and sought admission, would be classified as nonimmigrant treaty investors

The treaty countries are Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan,Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Taiwan), Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France,Georgia, Germany,Grenada, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yugoslavia.

Unlike other employment based visas, such as the EB-5, there is no specific amount of capital that must be met in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. The substantial amount of capital requirement is satisfied when any of the following conditions are shown by the investor applicant:

  • Substantial in a relationship to the total cost of either purchasing an established enterprise or establishing a new one

  • Sufficient to ensure the treaty investor’s financial commitment to the successful operation of the enterprise

  • Of a magnitude to support the likelihood that the treaty investor will successfully develop and direct the enterprise

After these initial steps are taken and the investor/ employee has met the requirements needed for the E-2 classification, they may begin the application process.

How to File

  • Complete and sign Form I-129 after reading instructions

  • Pay filing fees (if applicable)

  • Provide required evidence and supporting documents

  • *cannot apply for E-2 status form outside the U.S.

After Filing I-129 FormApplication will be processed and nonimmigrant will receive:

  • Receipt notice confirming petition

  • Biometric services notice (if applicable)

  • Notice to appear for interview (if required)

  • Notice of decision

After Petition Approval

  • Must apply & receive E-2 visa from U.S. consulate or embassy before entering the U.S.

Citizenship Pathway

By obtaining an E2 visa, a treaty trader is not guaranteed the opportunity to stay long-term; however, it does allow the treaty-trader and their family into the United States rather quickly. Furthermore, the spouse of the treaty investor may apply for work authorization through the I-765 form. Qualified treaty-traders and employees are allowed initially up to a two-year stay period, which can be extended indefinitely as long as the business successfully continues in the United States.

An important caveat to understand is that all E2 non-immigrants must maintain an intention to depart when their status expires or is terminated. Considering this, the E2 visa itself is not a pathway to citizenship or permanent residence.

The dual-intention doctrine, however, provides someone to maintain an intent to depart while also having an intent to seek permanent residence in the United States. Thus, an E2 visa does preclude an E2 visa holder from exploring other avenues to obtain permanent residence in the United States.

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