The article discussed the particularities of E-2 visa for Chileans. Nationals of Chile who want to do business in the United States and manage their own company can apply for E-2 visa.
Chilean citizens have a unique advantage in exploring business opportunities in the United States, as they are now able to travel to the US without a visa. This visa waiver makes it easier for Chilean entrepreneurs and investors to visit the US, meet with potential partners and customers, and assess market conditions. As a result, Chilean investment in the US has been increasing steadily, reaching $5.1 billion in 2022, up 45.8% from 2021.
What is E-2 visa?
The E2 Visa for USA is a nonimmigrant visa that allows foreign investors or entrepreneurs from Chile to come to the United States to develop and direct the operations of a US business in which they have invested a substantial amount of capital.
To qualify for an E2 visa, you can:
- Start a new business in the US,
- Purchase an entire existing business or franchise, or
- Invest in an existing US business.
E2 Visa allows Chilean investors to bring Chilean essential employees to the United States on E-2 Visas to assist them in running the business.
Additionally, E-2 visa allows investors to bring their spouse and children under 21 to the United States on E-2 visas. The E-2 visas can be renewed indefinitely as long as the business remains successful. E-2 investors and their spouses can obtain Social Security Numbers (SSN), but children of E-2 visa holders are not eligible for SSNs because they are not authorized to work in the United States.
Who is eligible for E-2 visa for Chile?
Citizens and nationals of Chile are eligible for E-2 visa, regardless of whether they have obtained the citizenship by birth or naturalizations.
Permanent residents of Chile are not eligible to apply for E-2 visa. Permanent residents may qualify for E-2 visa under their country of citizenship only if that country has an E-2 treaty with the United States. You can check the complete list of E-2 treaty countries here.
What are the requirements for E-2 visa for Chileans?
Chileans must meet the following requirements to apply for E-2 visa:
- Investor has invested or is in the process of investing in a US business. For Chilean investors, the purchase price of a US business or franchise qualifies as investment for the E-2 visa. Investors who choose to start a new business can invest in premises, technology, personnel, equipment, marketing, inventory and professional services.
- Business is real and operating. This means that the business is active, producing goods or services, and is not a passive investment in land, stocks, bonds or real estate.
- Investment is substantial. There is no set amount of capital that investors from Chile must spend in order to obtain an E2 Visa. The amount invested must be sufficient to give the business a good chance of success to employ US personnel and can range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more, depending on the type of business and location.
- Business is not marginal. The business must be viable, meaning that it has the potential to generate enough income to support the investor, employ US staff and contribute to the US economy.
- Chilean investor is in a position to develop and direct the business. The Chilean investor must own at least 50% of the US business they invest in and hold a position that allows them to actively participate in the business.
- Chilean applicant intends to depart the United States when the E2 status ends. This does not preclude the investor from renewing the E-2 visa or applying for a green card.
E-2 visa is also available to employees in managerial, executive or specialized knowledge positions who are nationals of Chile.
Processing time for E-2 visa for Chile
The E-2 visa processing time for Chile at US Embassy Santiago is up to 8 months.
For the Chileans who are in the United States on another valid visa and want to change status to E-2 at US. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the processing time is 15 days for premium processing. Regular processing at USCIS for E-2 applications for Chileans is 2 months.
What is the E-2 visa process for Chile?
You can apply for E-2 visa for Chile with the U.S. Embassy in Santiago. The application process to obtain an E-2 visa typically takes several months. After the Embassy receives the E-2 visa application and reviews it for completeness notifies the applicant of interview appointment availability. It is not possible to expedite the E-2 visa application at the US Embassy in Santiago.
The maximum length for which E-2 visa can be issued to a citizen of Chile is 12 months (1 year). However, the consular officer decides whether to issue the E-2 visa for 1 year or less.
Applicants with approved E-2 visas must pay a reciprocal fee of $155.
However, if you as a Chilean citizen are in the United States on another visa, you may be able to apply for change of status to E-2. To change status to E-2, you must file an E-2 application on form I-129 and supporting documents with USCIS. If USCIS approves the application, you receive a new I-94 record indicating E-2 status. Please note that E-2 status obtained through USCIS is NOT a visa and if you travel abroad, you need to obtain an E-2 visa to return to the United States to manage your business.
If you have any questions about applying for E-2 visa in USA as a citizen of Chile, you can contact us to consult with our experienced E2 visa lawyer.
How long can a Chilean stay in the US on an E-2 visa?
E-2 visa for Chile can be granted for maximum 12 months (1 year). On your first entry into the United State on an E-2 visa, you are admitted in E-2 status for 2 years. This means you can stay continuously in the United States in E-2 status for up to 2 years without leaving the country.
During the validity of your E-2 visa, you can travel abroad to renew the E-2 status. Upon each entry, citizens of Chile are typically admitted in E-2 status for two years.
If your visa is no longer valid, then before the expiration of your 2 years of E-2 status, you renew your E-2 visa at the US Embassy in Santiago or remain in the United States and file an extension of status with USCIS.
Extensions of E-2 status for Chileans are generally available for as long as you and your family maintain your E-2 visa status.
Once the E-2 visa expires, the investor and family members can apply for renewal. There is no limit on E-2 visa renewals for citizens of Chile, provided that the applicant continues to meet the eligibility requirements.
How to renew an E-2 visa for Chile?
You can renew your E-2 visa at the US Embassy in Santiago or by filing an extension of status with USCIS.
The renewal process is similar to the application process for the initial E-2 visa. The E-2 visa for Chilean citizens can be renewed for maximum 12 months (1 year).
Extension of status requests at USCIS can be granted in increments of up to two years each, with no maximum limit.
Other USA visa options for Chileans
In addition to the E-2 visa, as a citizen of Chile you are eligible for other USA visas including:
- E-1 Visa – It is a nonimmigrant visa for Chileans who wish to enter the United States to carry on substantial trade between the United States and Chile.
- L-1 Visa – It is a nonimmigrant visa that allows US employers to transfer executive, manager or specialized knowledge employees from their Chile office or other foreign office to work in the United States temporarily. The L-1 visa is also an option for Chilean entrepreneurs who seek to establish or expand their business presence in the United States. If you have any questions about applying for L-1 visa in USA, you can contact us to consult with our experienced immigration lawyer.
- O-1 Visa – It is a nonimmigrant visa for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. The O-1 visa is also an option for Chilean entrepreneurs as long as they meet the criteria for O-1.
- H-1B Visa – It is a nonimmigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire Chilean workers in specialty occupations. A specialty occupation is one that requires at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.
Can a Chilean on an E-2 visa apply for a green card?
Yes, a Chilean citizen on an E2 visa can apply for any of the green card options available to them. Some of the most popular green card options are:
- EB-5 Investor Green Card – A Chilean can qualify with 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 citizens of Chile with an advanced degree or exceptional ability in arts, science or business. The proposed endeavor must be in national interest of the United States.
- EB-1 – Green card for citizens of Chile with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, professors and researchers or multinational executives or managers.
- PERM employment-based visa – A Chilean on an E-2 visa may be eligible for employment-based green card from a US employer. This type of green card requires a job offer from a US employer and a PERM labor certification.
- Family-based immigrant visa – A Chilean on an E-2 visa may be eligible for family sponsorship if they have a spouse, child, or parent who is a US citizen or permanent resident.
If you are a citizen of Chile on an E-2 visa who is interested in applying for a green card, you should consult with our experienced immigration lawyer to determine the best option for your particular situation.
Malescu Law can assist with E-2 visa for Chile
Malescu Law P.A. – Business & Immigration Lawyers