The article discusses the particularities of E-2 visa for Canadians. The E-2 Treaty Investor visa program was not created specifically for Canadian citizens, and is available to citizens of other treaty countries that maintain a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the US. However, the E-2 visa is especially popular with Canadians who are looking to invest and do business in the US.
Before we dive into the details of E-2 visa for Canadians, we need to answer some important questions about the E-2 visa in general.
What is an E-2 visa?
The E2 Visa is a nonimmigrant visa for investors and entrepreneurs who are looking to run a business in the United States. To qualify for an E2 visa, individuals can start a new business in the US, purchase an existing business or franchise or otherwise invest in an existing US business.
In addition, the E2 Visa allows foreign investors to bring essential employees to the US on an E2 Visa to help them run the business in the US.
With an E2 visa you do not become a permanent resident of the United States or in other words a green card holder, but you can apply for a green card provided that you meet the specific requirements. However, keep in mind that the E2 visa does not automatically lead to a green card and you need to apply for the green card separately.
The E2 Visa allows the investor to come to the United States temporarily together with their spouse and children to live and work. The E2 visa is available only to people who are citizens of certain countries that have an E2 treaty with the United States. Canada is one of these E-2 Visa treaty countries.
Who is eligible for E-2 visa for Canadians?
To be eligible for E-2 Visa for Canadians you must be a citizen of Canada, naturalized or otherwise. Permanent residents of Canada do not qualify for E-2 Visa but may qualify under their country of citizenship if it has an E-2 Treaty with the US. The full list of E-2 countries can be found here.
What are the requirements to apply for E-2 visa for Canadians?
Canadian citizens must meet the following requirements to apply for E-2 visa for Canadians:
- The investor has invested or is in the process of investing in a US business. For Canadian investors who choose to purchase a US business or a franchise, the purchase price paid for it qualifies as an irrevocable investment. For an investor who chooses to start a new business, any investment in premises, technology, personnel, equipment, marketing, inventory and professional services count as an investment. The investment must be placed at risk, meaning if the investor does not receive an E-2 visa the he or she stands to lose all or part of the funds invested.
- The business is real and operating. This means that the business must be active, producing goods or services, and not a passive investment in land, stocks, bonds or real estate.
- The investment is substantial. There is no set amount of money that a Canadian investor must spend in order to obtain an E2 Visa. The amount invested must be enough to give the business a good chance of success to employ US personnel. For example, $80,000 could be enough for a consulting business that does not require much equipment, aside from office and laptops, but $1 million might not be enough to start a factory. Typically, investments of around $100,000 can be sufficient for Canadian investors but this is not a requirement or a guarantee that the E2 Investor Visa will be approved.
- The business is not marginal. The business must have the potential to produce enough income not to merely support a living investor but to generate substantial revenue, employ US staff and contribute to the US economy. For a startup, an E2 business plan is required to show that the US business is not marginal.
- The applicant is in a position to develop and direct the business. The investor must own minimum 50% of the US business they invest in or otherwise have a position in the business that allows him or her to actively participate in developing and directing the business.
- The applicant intends to depart the United States when the E2 status ends. The Canadian investor must intend to leave the United States when the E2 status ends and not stay in the US illegally. That does not preclude the investor from renewing the visa as many times as they wish, as long as the business is working and employing US workers.
Can Canadian employees get an E-2 visa?
The E-2 visa is also available to employees from the same E-2 country as the owner or owners of the company. In other words, E-2 visa is available for Canadian employees.
In this case if a US company has a Canadian owner (individual or business), regardless if the owner has obtained an E-2 visa or not, the company can bring a manager, executive or essential knowledge employee to work in the United States under E-2 visa.
How much money do I need for E-2 visa for Canadians?
As discussed above, the size of the E-2 investment for Canadian citizens must be sufficient to give the business a decent chance of success. Therefore, the capital required for the E-2 visa will vary based on the type of business.
Additionally, the location of the US business matters. To open a restaurant in rural Louisiana, an investor might need less than $70,000, while to open a restaurant in a popular Miami neighborhood can cost more than half a million USD.
How to get an E-2 visa for Canadians?
We recommend investors and entrepreneurs seeking an E-2 visa for Canadians engage an attorney at the onset of the E-2 visa process. An experienced E2 Visa lawyer advises the applicant on best businesses for E-2 visa, how to structure the transfer of funds and prove the legal origin of the investment funds, addresses ongoing questions related to the investment for E-2 purposes, prepares the application and E-2 interview questions and represents you before the US Consulate in Canada.
Canadian citizens seeking an E-2 visa must first decide if they want to purchase an already established business, purchase a franchise, invest in an existing business with a partner, or build a new business from the ground up.
As part of the E2 visa application, a Canadian investor may need assistance with business formation, business licenses and permits, asset purchase agreements, joint venture agreements, franchise agreement, franchise disclosure documents, E2 business plan and others.
After the process of investing is complete, the E2 Visa lawyer prepares the E-2 visa application with all accompanying documents and evidence and submits it to the US Consulate in Canada. The US Consulate in Toronto handles E-2 visa applications.
Then the E-2 visa applicant attends an interview at the US Consulate in Toronto where he or she might be questioned about the US business, the investment, the business plan and the origin of the funds used to make the investment. The main E-2 applicant can also bring their dependents, spouse and/or children under 21, to the interview. If the main applicant is approved, usually the spouse and children also get E-2 dependent visas.
Canadian citizens who are in the United States can alternatively apply for E-2 visa via a request for change of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How long can a Canadian on an E-2 visa stay in the United States?
E-2 visa for Canadians citizens is granted with a validity of up to 5-years. In rare cases the consular officer can choose to grant a Canadian citizen E-2 visa for less than 5 years.
During its validity period the E-2 visa can be used to exit and enter the United States as many times as the holder wishes. Upon each entry to the United States, the Canadian investor and family members are admitted in E-2 status for 2 years.
This means that Canadian E-2 visa holders can stay for up to 2 years in the United States in one stay without leaving the country. To renew the E-2 status, the investor and family members can simply travel abroad during the validity of the E-2 visa. On every return to the US from a trip abroad (with the exception of trips from certain Caribbean Islands), the CBP officer gives the E-2 visa holder a new 2-year status.
How can a Canadian renew an E-2 visa?
An E-2 visa can be renewed by applying at the US consulate in Toronto. The process is similar to that used to apply for the initial E-2 visa. If the business is successful, meaning it has hired US employees, provides goods or services, and generates revenue, the US consulates generally renew the E2 visa for the maximum amount of time which is 5-years.
Alternatively, if the Canadian investor and family members are in the United States and cannot travel to the US Consulate Toronto to renew the E-2 visa, then they can renew the E-2 status by requestion an extension with USCIS.
Can a Canadian on an E-2 visa apply for a green card?
Yes, a Canadian citizen on an E-2 visa can apply for green card. However, Canadian citizens cannot automatically qualify to apply for a green card by simply having an E-2 visa. To apply for green card, a Canadian on an E-2 visa needs to find the best green card option for their particular situation. Some of the most popular self-sponsor green card options for Canadian E-2 visa holders are:
- EB-5 Investor Green Card – requires an investment of $1,050,000 or $800,000 if the business is in rural or high unemployment area. The business must create 10 full-time jobs for US workers.
- EB-2 NIW – Green card for people with an advanced degree (or Bachelor’s degree and 5 years of progressive experience) or exceptional ability in arts, science or business.
- EB-1 – Green card program for extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, professors and researchers or multinational executives or managers.
Malescu Law can assist with E-2 visa for Canadians
If you are a Canadian citizen seeking to apply for an E-2 visa, you can contact us or book a consultation with our experienced E2 visa immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA to get the process started. We serve investors, businesses and entrepreneurs across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers