Are you a UK national looking to start a business in the United States? If so, you may be eligible for an E2 visa. In this article, we will discuss the E2 visa for UK nationals, its requirements, and how to apply for it.
What is an E2 Visa?
An E2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows foreign nationals to enter and work in the United States based on a substantial investment in a US business. This visa is only available to citizens of countries that have a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States, and the United Kingdom is one of them.
Benefits of an E2 Visa
The E2 visa offers several benefits to UK nationals looking to start a business in the US. These include:
- The ability to come in and out of the U.S. on the valid E-2 visa for 5 years to develop and direct your E-2 company.
- The ability live and work in the US for a full two-year period for every entry on the valid visa, with the option to renew the visa indefinitely.
- The ability to bring dependents, including spouses and unmarried children under 21, to the US.
- No minimum education or language requirements.
- No annual quota or cap on the number of E2 visas issued, which means that there is no significant wait time to obtain the E-2 visa as compared to other visa classifications.
Requirements for UK Nationals
To be eligible for an E2 visa, UK nationals must meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen AND an ongoing resident* of the United Kingdom
- Have invested or be in the process of investing a substantial amount of capital in a US business
- Have at least 50% ownership of the US business
- Be seeking to enter the US solely to develop and direct the US business
- The investment must be in an active and operating business, not a passive investment such as real estate or stocks
- The investment must be at risk, meaning there is a risk of losing the investment if the business fails
- The investment must be substantial, meaning it must be enough to ensure the success of the business
- The business must have the potential to create job opportunities for US workers
- The business must be a legitimate enterprise, not a marginal one
*The treaty with the UK specifically requires the principal applicant to prove ongoing residency in the U.K. Examples of the appropriate evidence which must be issued within the last 6 months maximum are a recent copy of a pay slips/stubs or proof of payment for Inland Revenue taxes in the UK. Other examples are proof ofpayment of local utilities bills such as gas, water, electric, local council taxes; a current lease or mortgage payment should be accompanied by other proof such as bank statements for a current account reflecting local direct debit charges or transactions are all acceptable proof of domicile.
The investment amount required for an E2 visa varies depending on the type of business and its location. However, the investment must be substantial and sufficient to ensure the success of the business. Generally, the investment amount should be at least $100,000, but it can be lower for certain businesses. The investment can be made in a start-up company, an existing/operating company or a franchise.
To qualify for an E2 visa, UK nationals must have at least 50% ownership of the US business. This means that they must have a controlling interest in the business and have the power to make decisions and direct the operations of the business.
Developing and Directing the Business
UK nationals must be seeking to enter the US solely to develop and direct the US business. This means that they must have a key role in the business and be actively involved in its day-to-day operations. They must also have the necessary skills and experience to successfully run the business.
One of the requirements for an E2 visa is that the business must have the potential to create job opportunities for US workers. While there is no specific number of jobs that must be created, the business must have the capacity to generate enough revenue to support the creation of jobs.
A marginal enterprise is one that does not have the present or future capacity to generate more than enough income to provide a minimal living for the investor and their family. To qualify for an E2 visa, the business must not be a marginal one.
How to Apply for an E2 Visa
To apply for an E2 visa, UK nationals must follow these steps:
1. Complete the online non-immigrant visa application (Form DS-160)
2. Pay the visa application fee
3. Gather the required documents and submit the application package based on the Embassy guidelines. Some required documents are the following:
- A valid passport
- A business plan outlining the investment and business operations
- Proof of investment, such as bank statements or loan agreements
- Proof of ownership, such as stock certificates or partnership agreements
- Evidence of the business’s potential to create jobs, such as a business plan or financial projections
- Evidence of the business’s legitimacy, such as business licenses or tax returns
- Evidence of the investor’s qualifications and experience, such as resumes or educational certificates
4. Schedule an interview at the US Embassy in London
5. Attend the visa interview and answer the questions from the visa officer
6. If approved, the visa will be issued and the investor can enter the US to develop and direct the business
The E2 visa is an excellent option for UK nationals looking to start a business in the United States. It should be noted that you may also buy an operating business or acquire a franchise. It offers several benefits, making it accessible to a wide range of investors. By meeting the requirements and following the application process, UK nationals can successfully obtain an E2 visa and start their business in the US.
This article has been written by Alex Jovy, Head of Business Development Davies & Associates, London Office.
Alex Jovy heads sales & business development in the UK and Europe. Alex has a long history of senior management roles in a wide range of sectors, from sustainability to film and has worked in a variety of sales, marketing and business development roles in a range of law and professional services firms. Alex has a passion for film and was nominated for an Academy Award. He is a published author with a successful historical fiction book about Cyrus the Great.