One of the questions I get asked the most is, “What is the E2 Investor Visa Minimum Investment Amount?”
It is a good question because everyone seems to be aware that the investment for E2 visa purposes must be substantial, but the question then becomes, “What is considered substantial?”
With my 17+ years of experience writing E-2 visa business plans, I am going to explain everything and provide examples for you.
Under the E-2 visa regulations, the E2 Treaty Investor applicant must demonstrate that a substantial investment of personal funds has been invested in the E2 Enterprise and that the investment must be “at risk” and dedicated to the development and growth of the U.S. enterprise.
A substantial investment is determined by the proportion of funds being invested compared to the total cost to develop the business to the point of being operational. Therefore, no minimum investment amount is specified in the regulations.
E2 Investor Visa Minimum Investment Amount
Since the regulations do not specify a minimum investment amount, you must take each investor’s case on its own merits. The E2 visa investment amount is not a one-size-fits-all number that applies to all E2 visa applicants, and it depends on the type of business (or franchise) the foreign entrepreneur is starting or purchasing.
What I have noticed is that many sources on the internet indicate that it is generally difficult to obtain an E2 visa if the overall investment is below $100,000 or even below $150,000.
Some immigration lawyers I work with tend not to take on cases where the E2 investment level is below $100,000, and I totally understand this. However, there are also many cases where E2 visas are approved for less than $100,000, and I have written numerous E2 visa business plans where success has been achieved for less than $100,000.
E2 Visa Minimum Investment Requirements
I write E2 visa business plans for many different industries and types of companies and have been involved in the successful approval of E2 visa cases where the investment was only $50,000. I also work with many clients that invest in the $50,000 – $90,000 range, and these cases have been successful too.
I am not suggesting or advocating for you to invest as little as possible, or to test what minimum investment you can get by with, because the reality is that an investment of $100,000+ will often stand a much better chance than E2 cases that are less than $100,000.
What I have noticed, particularly over the past five or so years, is that there has been a higher E2 acceptance rate for investments in the $75,000 – $150,000 range, whereas 5+ years ago, it was more of a challenge to obtain an E2 visa approval for an investment that was less than $150,000.
It is also important to note that depending on the type of business or franchise you invest in, the amount of investment considered “substantial” may vary greatly.
What E2 Visa Businesses are Successful?
E2 visas are granted for a wide variety of businesses with varying levels of investment required for each of these businesses or franchises. Some examples of companies I have written E2 visa business plans for that have been successful include daycare centers, hair salons, restaurants, gas stations/c-stores, construction and remodeling, hotels, coffee shops/bakeries, nail and beauty salons, pizzerias, scrap metal processing and exporting, real estate flipping and property management, trucking and transportation, architectural and design firms, mobile application developers, whitewater rafting/outdoor sports, auto repair and servicing facilities, smartphone and tablet repair stores, oil and gas exploration, travel/tour operators, digital marketing and branding agencies, custom software designers, motorcycle/ATV sales, Boost Mobile stores, digital printing and sign manufacturing, subscription-based products, import/export, and many more.
Based on the sampling of companies I have written E2 visa business plans for, the level of investment required for each varies greatly. What I have noticed over the years is that if you are starting a business in consulting or similar, the investment level can often be lower than if you are starting a restaurant, fast-food franchise, coffee shop, retail store, or gas station.
Naturally, the investment amount required between these types of companies is completely different, and a consulting company can be started, launched, and grown for much less than a restaurant, gas station, hair salon, fast food franchise, or retail store. Likewise, a digital marketing and advertising agency or software firm can be started for much less than a real estate flipping and investment company.
Summary of E2 Visa Minimum Investment Requirements
The level of investment depends on the type of company you are investing in. Most restaurants, for example, require a minimum of $150,000, and this is based on a small restaurant with minimal seating, with its focus mostly on take-out rather than dine-in.
I have written E2 visa business plans for restaurants at this investment level, and they have been successful, but most investments in a restaurant (independent or franchised) for E2 visa purposes range in the $150,000 – $750,000+ range. A coffee shop/bakery business is still quite capital-intensive to set up, but I have written E2 business plans for these types of companies in the $95,000 – $135,000 range, and they have been approved.
For non-retail/restaurant-related businesses, such as mobile app companies, software design firms, employment agencies, asset management firms, medical billing companies, interior designers, web/graphic design/marketing firms, and specialist consulting firms, it is accepted that these types of companies do not require such a large investment to set up and launch.
I have written E2 visa business plans for these types of firms that have been successful in the $50,000 – $100,000+ range, but the higher the investment amount, the better, although you don’t want to over-invest in these types of companies and have too much working capital left over.
E2 Visa – Irrevocably Committed Funds
What tends to happen in E2 cases where a business is being started that does not require a lot of capital, is the E2 treaty investor must demonstrate a significant amount of irrevocably committed funds to the E2 enterprise. This might mean having to make financial commitments above and beyond what you would do in the ordinary course of business if an E2 visa were not a part of the process.
Some examples of this might be paying office rent 12 months in advance. If you rent space for $1,500 per month (for example), an $18,000 irrevocably committed investment for office space is going to look much better than your first and last month’s payment of $3,000.
Similarly, you might engage a marketing and public relations firm before filing your E2 visa to help launch and grow your business and create awareness in the marketplace. Instead of paying them a deposit, you might pay them a retainer for the next six months of $12,000 ($2,000 per month). This will look better than just an agreement for services where no money has changed hands or if just a $2,000 payment has been made.
In summary, I am not advocating for the E2 visa investment amount to be less than $100,000 or even close to the $50,000-$75,000 range that I have talked about above.
I want to make you aware that E2 investments below $100,000 can work, but you must meet specific criteria and ensure that a high percentage of your overall investment has been irrevocably committed prior to filing for the E2 treaty investor visa rather than just sitting in a business bank account as working capital.
You must also make sure you are a national of one of these E2 Treaty Countries.
Successful Businesses Approved for the E2 Visa
The graphic below that I created gives you an idea of the types of companies I have written E2 visa business plans for that have been successfully approved.
I have noted the type of business/industry and the total investment made. These are real examples of actual clients of mine.
As you can see, the E2 investment amounts range between $68,000 – $176,000. This represents just a small summary of my client’s businesses that were recently approved for their E2 visa, and I will be adding more examples to this page.