What is permitted activity to be undertaken on a B-1 visa when establishing the E-2 business?
You may enter the U.S. in B-1 (temporary business) visa status in order to set up – but not run – your business. You may not be paid by an American entity while in B-1 status. If required you may hire individuals (who are properly documented to work in the U.S.) to manage and run daily operations prior to receiving your visa. Once you have the initial commitments completed you may apply for your E visa.
Can an Israeli national process an E-2 visa anywhere in the world?
Yes, Israelis can apply for an E-2 at any U.S. embassy or consulate that processes E-2 visas. In many countries it may be consolidated at one location. In Israel, E-2 visas are currently only processed at Embassy Branch Office Tel Aviv.
If you change status to E-2 in the US with USCIS can you reapply at the Embassy as a renewal application?
No. Traders/investors who have changed status in the United States with USCIS must follow the steps for all first-time investors. Such a change of status remains valid only while the applicant remains in the United States. Once the applicant has left the United States, he or she requires an E visa to return and resume the running of his or her business. Change of status does not guarantee the issuance of a visa nor does it exempt the investor from the normal process of filing documents in advance with the US Embassy Jerusalem Branch Office Tel Aviv.
Does the E-2 petitioner need to address whether the work can be done by a U.S. citizen?
“Essential employees” – may remain only as long as their skills are required to operate the business, and only as long as the owner can show either that U.S. workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train U.S. workers as replacements.
Do I need to have the money invested before I apply for a visa?
Yes. The E-2 visa regulations state that the funds or assets must be committed to the enterprise and the commitments must be real and irrevocable. Funds can be considered “irrevocably committed” if they are held in an escrow account for release of transfer contingent on the issuance of an E visa. Mere intent to invest or possession of uncommitted funds in a bank account, or even prospective investment arrangements entailing no present commitment will not suffice.
I own a house in the United States. Does this qualify as an investment and entitle me to an E2 visa?
No. Owning property in the United States does not entitle you to a visa. To qualify for an E-2 visa, the investment must be a real active and commercial or entrepreneurial undertaking, producing some service or commodity. It must involve funds and assets for which the investor is personally at risk.
What happens if there is a change in ownership once the E-2 is issued?
If change in ownership is such that the E2 visa holder no longer owns at least 50% of the business, s/he would be required to depart the U.S. Note that joint ventures are also permitted, provided that the individual investor applying for the visa is in a position to “develop and direct” the enterprise. The applicant is in such a position by controlling the enterprise through ownership of at least 50% of the business, possessing operational control through a marginal position or other corporate device, or by other means showing the applicant controls the enterprise.
What are you looking for when filing an E2 renewal?
Consular officers are looking to see that the company remains viable, with significant investment at risk by the visa applicant. The business should now be well-established. We also verify that the visa holder is still eligible and qualified for the visa.
How do you prove the intent to return to Israel?
E2 visa applicants do not actually have to prove their intent to return to Israel, but rather their intent to depart the U.S. So if they had subsequent plans to relocate to a third country, it would still meet the visa requirements. Basically, we look at extended family and other social and economic ties maintained abroad. We might consider whether the applicant has visited Israel or another country to maintain ties there while in E2 status in the United States.
How long may the investor and essential employees stay in the U.S?
The applicant must have the intention of departing the U.S. upon conclusion of the commercial activities. Nevertheless, holders of E visas may reside in the U.S. as long as they continue to meet E visa qualifications. As mentioned previously, “Essential employees” may remain only as long as their skills are required to operate the business, and only as long as the owner can show either that U.S. workers cannot be trained to duplicate the skills or that the owner is making reasonable efforts to train U.S. workers as replacements.
Can my family members work in the U.S?
Family members may work on derivative E visas if permission has been obtained in advance from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The spouse may, upon admission to the United States, apply with the USCIS for an employment authorization document. Children may attend school.
Are dependents of a different nationality entitled to the same classification as the principal alien?
The nationality of the spouse and children of an E visa applicant is not material. The spouse and children of an E visa alien receive the same visa validity and number of entries.The investor should demonstrate he has taken possession and control of the moneys that were transferred to the company.